The Difference Between a CSR and a Dispatcher
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22 November 2019 - 21:57, by Trevor Flannigan, in Culture

You know it as well as I do: Right now, every call counts. Your CSRs should be booking calls like crazy people. They need to follow through on every lead. They need to kill it.

But let’s not kid ourselves. There has been days when you don’t really push for that kind of intensity, right? Heck, there’s probably been weeks. Months? But here’s the thing. That shouldn’t be the SOP for just the slow times. If you want your business to quit spinning its wheels and finally take off, you need this mindset at all times. And believe me, if you do, it’ll skyrocket your growth. But what about the Dispatcher? Same deal? I want to talk about The CSR and the Dispatcher. It’s vital to your business (especially in the early days) to make a crystal clear distinction between those roles. How? Glad you asked.


A CSR’s job is to outbound and inbound to book same-day with inbound until a manager or owner tells them not to book and outbound call to fill a the three/five/thirty day call board.

Here’s What Their Easiest Day Looks Like:

  • Calls are totally filled up.
  • The manager says we can’t take anymore as a company.
  • We’re booked for 3 months with service agreement customers.

From here, calls are fast because they have to tell people “sorry, we’re booked.” That’s no bueno. Never let your business get here.

And Here’s Their Hardest Day:

  • No calls on the board for the day and they have to crush their inbound conversion rate to get every call booked.
  • There’s techs in the break-room desperately hoping for a job and they’re outbound calling like crazy just to get something setup for tomorrow.

So there it is. That’s what the CSR’s job looks like. Now let’s take a look at the Dispatcher.

The Dispatcher

A Dispatcher’s job is to take all the calls in any given day and turn it into as much money as possible.

Easiest Day:

  • No calls to a single call per tech on the board.
  • Little or nothing to dispatch.

Sit back and eat a bon-bon because there is literally nothing to do. Never, never-ever let your business get here.

Hardest Day:

  • The CSRs have the board filled. Max capacity.
  • There’s service agreement customers to reschedule to make room for broken equipment.
  • There’s tons of great calls on the board with broken equipment, and they have to call and check in with all these customers so no call gets left behind.

At this point you can probably see how these positions create “opposing metrics” to each other. The hardest day for a CSR is the easiest day for a dispatcher, and vice-versa for the dispatcher. What you may see in your shop, if you have these roles combined, is that they’ve found a sweet spot… They limit the number of calls because they ultimately control the booking process and have kind of an easy job as a CSR and a dispatcher.

But (and this a big but), this is not maximizing your day. You may not even see it happening. Especially in small business, where we have to be a jack of all trades. But if you combine these roles, you’ll have a hard time ever knowing if part of the system is broken. Because these roles have opposing KPIs, they hold each other accountable. If a CSR is being held accountable for the number of calls booked, and the Dispatcher is held accountable for revenue per day or average revenue per call, you’ll naturally see both the number booked and the amount of money made as a company increase, if two people do those two different roles. Why? Because if the CSR doesn’t book enough calls, the dispatcher will say, “Hey, I can’t hit my revenue numbers because I don’t have enough calls to dispatch,” And if there isn’t enough calls on the board, CSR will say “I need to outbound and get some customers on the board or I’m not going to hit my budget of 3 calls per tech per day.”

The Costs

Now, for some of the smaller shops, what does it cost to have 2 people do these roles?

Great question. One CSR at $12/hour is about $2,600 a month after burden – you already have that. One more means another $2,600 a month. To cover both positions you need to generate an additional $5,200 a month. (Assumes 50% gross margin) That means the company needs what?

Let’s figure the average ticket per BOOKED CALL (not sold) is $350. Either a CSR needs to book 16 more calls a month, and I would argue if they aren’t having to dispatch they’ll have plenty of time to outbound, and I would argue, you’d probably see more like 30 calls a month with a solid out-bounding process. Or, let’s figure an average sold call of $800. Your dispatcher needs to get the right technician to the right call and be incentivized to get 4 more calls run per month. If you incentivize them with $100 per day and they hit their revenue goal, you can bet your butt that they’ll find a way to hit it. They’ll get techs to take more calls, and make sure the best tech is suited for each call they dispatch. Whatever they need to do, they’ll get it done. Hopefully you’re onboard with separating the positions into two different roles. It’s worth it.

Gotta Keep ‘em Separated

Next, I want to talk about actually physically moving the positions to different parts of your building.

I know. You’re thinking “this guy is a nut,” and I am, but trust me. This is important. If you already split your two roles into two positions, but you still have them in the same room, this is what’s going to happen. You’ll get The Mean Girls Effect in your office. That’s where the CSRs sole job is to book the call for the same day, and they get REALLY good at it.

But because they’re good at it, they get really good at making the Dispatcher’s day SUPER DIFFICULT. To that end, if they’re in the same room with all the people whose day they’re messing up, it’s just a matter of time before the “STOP BOOKING” screams. Ultimately, the CSRs don’t want to get yelled at. (they just doing their job).

The best way to combat The Mean Girl Effect is to put them in different rooms. Out of sight. Out of mind. It may seem silly, but we even prevented them from calling back and forth. Technicians just called the dispatch phones instead of the main line. And guess what. It worked.

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