Suggest functionality for better customer service

Excellent customer service and customer intimacy is for many companies the next frontier after having mastered building and selling a great product or reaching operational excellence. Obviously, we would all like to deliver a perfect service but there is a limit to the resources we have available. In the context of field service and last-mile delivery, the challenge is not different. How do you combine outstanding performance for the customer, with operational efficiency?

Bert Van Wassenhove

You may already know that optimizing routes and schedules typically delivers a 30% efficiency improvement, but what with the many changes that occur in practice? Think of customers visiting your portal to make an appointment, or planners trying to fit it in a last-minute request. There too solvers can deliver an optimal solution. However, you do not want to re-run the full optimization process every time a new order comes in. That would be complex, inefficient and time-consuming. Our solution has been to add a ‘suggest function’ to our OnRoute API, allowing software developers to build excellent customer experience in no time.

The ‘suggest function’ gives visibility on the impact for operations of a suggested schedule change. So  every time a new order is to be added, the user gets up to five scheduling suggestions, each time indicating the impact: e.g. the extra driving time that will be added to the operation.

What the ‘suggest functionality’ basically does is a mini exhaustive search solve with that difference that we keep up the best n solutions found. As it is only for suggesting 1 extra Job into the solution, the search effort is quite limited fortunately. The result will list the possible time slots the new job can be assigned to, with its attributing score.

How you use the ‘suggest functionality’ in your application is of course completely up to your own creativity and your customers’ needs. You can discover all possibilities of live scheduling here, but to get you started we have defined three sample use cases:

  1. Customer portal upgrade
    Customer self-service is a much-appreciated option that benefits both the company and the end customer. Having customers pick their own delivery or service date is ideal, if only you could limit the options to those moments that are feasible and efficient for the delivery or service team. With the ‘suggest functionality’ you can build a user interface with an agenda that highlights the ideal days and hours only. As a result, the customers are not faced with choice overload and operations are organized efficiently.
self service customer portal upgrade

  1. Contact center empowerment
    Giving contact center agents the best information in real-time has a series of positive effects. End customers can be helped faster, agents can work more efficiently and operations keep running smoothly. By integrating the ‘suggest functionality’ into a CRM or contact center solution, agents can get suggestions for the most optimal timing to schedule an intervention.
Contact center empowerment with suggested appointment timing

  1. Real-time scheduling for planners
    Not all scheduling is done in batch mode. Often extra orders are added last-minute, changes need to be made or slots open up. Rather than rerunning the complete scheduling process, with the ‘suggest functionality’ you can offer planners an interface that shows the best moments to integrate a change or new order.
Suggested spots in real-time scheduling

Power up your scheduling tools with the real-time power of the OnRoute ‘Suggest Functionality’ and offer your customers a better experience, improved customer service and efficient operations.

Interested to learn more about our optimization APIs? Contact us today and we will get you going within days.

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