With mobile field service software, waiting is no longer the hardest part
In late November, Comcast started testing a mobile application intended to shrink the insanely long windows many telecommunications companies specify for on-site service visits. Customers now get an alert about 30 minutes ahead of time.
Comcast’s (CMCSA) embattled customer support organization certainly has plenty of ground to make up so offering something like this is smart. Then again, my first thought when hearing about this technology was, “Why isn’t every other field service organization doing something like this?”
That’s a question that Boston-based software startup Dispatch would love the chance to debate with large home improvement retailers. Co-founder and CEO Avi Goldberg has been focused on this issue since the day his washing-machine broke and the company managing his warranty service couldn’t connect him with a local service contact. After several phone calls, Goldberg got an appointment—two weeks later. Hours later, he was the owner of a new washer.
Last month, Goldberg’s 13-person team got $3.1 million in seed funding from the backers including Salesforce Ventures and former Oracle exec and venture capitalist Ray Lane to refine software that streamlines scheduling, billing, and communications associated with service appointments.
“Customers want a seamless experience that enables them to book immediately, know exactly when their service professional is going to arrive and then pay with ease,” Goldberg said.
They receive that information in the form of a text, which estimates the wait time. They can even see what the person looks like, so they know whether or not to open the door. After the visit, Dispatch can help gather feedback about the visit.
Dispatch’s technology connects with existing workflow management and invoicing systems. Goldberg said that integration takes two to four weeks to set up, compared with the six-month timeframe often required to create this sort of application from scratch. Dispatch charges a transaction fee based on how many visits it orchestrates, ranging from “pennies” per job to close to a dollar, he said.
Dispatch’s customers are businesses (both large and small) that need to organize service teams. Its primary target right now is the $450 billion home improvements and services sector. Another software company addressing the mobile field management opportunity is ServiceMax, although its mission is broader and tackles internal workforce automation.
Goldberg is cagey about customer names, although Dispatch is working with one of the largest warranty service companies in the United States. Its technology is also used by Handyman Connection, which manages about 1,000 technicians across 50 franchise locations. “Dispatch’s service will help us create a much better customer experience,” said Handyman Connection CEO Jeff Wall.
This item first appeared in the Dec. 10 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.