Emergency services firm Homeserve is improving customer response times and cutting back on paperwork as it moves into the second phase of a Windows Mobile 5.0 application roll-out to fully automate job scheduling for engineers in the field.
The warranties division, which provides repairs for white goods, boilers and furniture, introduced the mobile job-scheduling system in November. But in the first phase it could only send out information to engineers' Orange SPV M500 smartphones, meaning information logged on paper still needed to be loaded into the system. In the next phase, data collected in the field can also be transmitted back.
The mobile system takes information from the company's claims and job scheduling applications. Each night, data is transferred to a back-end database connected via a gateway server using a virtual private network linked to a hosted service connected to the Orange network.
The system uses the MobileOne platform from developer Pervasic, licensed on a pay-per-use basis. The platform is linked to Homeserve's Oracle 10g database running on SuSE Linux Enterprise 9, which holds all of the firm's claims data.
Once claims data has been downloaded onto the smartphone, a wireless connection is no longer needed, but the engineer can update information using a job scheduling application customised by Pervasic for Homeserve.
The touchscreen on the SPV M500 can also be used to capture a customer's signature and confirm that a job has been completed.
Steve Herbert, operations director for Homeserve's warranties division, said, "The previous system we operated with faxes was inefficient. Not only did the engineers have to fill in the job forms by hand, but documents had to be scanned back into the claims system."
Nicky Pennells, IT manager at Homeserve, said 13 engineers had worked alongside Pervasic in phase one of the roll-out. She said phase two would go live later this month to complete the data circle and provide full automation of job allocation and tracking.
Alongside the Pervasic client software, Homeserve has installed TomTom's GPS software on the smartphones to help engineers find the fastest route to their next job.
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