When DISH completed its first major deployment of mobile technology — specialized PC-based mobile computers and telematics equipment, including ruggedized touchscreen laptops — it took 3½ months to equip all of its internal technicians at more than 170 field offices across the United States.
“A team of specialists touched every single vehicle at every field office nationwide,” said Nick Rossetti, DISH’s senior vice president of In-Home Services. “Our installation partners worked through the night to install the RAM Mounts mounting systems and wire the docking platforms that would secure our technicians’ laptops inside their vehicles.”
Specialists installed DISH’s custom RAM Mounts mounting system from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at each location to minimize disruption to the company’s day-to-day operations.
Colorado-based DISH operates a fleet of 4,700 vehicles from its 170 field offices. About 85 percent of these vehicles are cargo vans and 15 percent are pickup trucks — mainly heavy-duty pickups used in off-road or heavy snow conditions. Some vehicles are also assigned to technicians living and working in remote areas.
But when it came time to replace the PC-based laptops with Samsung Galaxy Note tablets in all of the vehicles in the company’s fleet, instead of taking 14 weeks to deploy the Notes, it took only six– a whopping 57 percent reduction. Rossetti said that many reasons accounted for the shorter deployment.
The technicians required far less training time to use the new devices, and the devices required less programming. In many cases, the technicians could program the devices themselves by downloading and installing the necessary apps. But it was RAM Mounts mobile mounting system’s modular design that contributed significantly to the shorter deployment, allowing DISH the flexibility to quickly transform its nationwide vehicle fleet.
“The RAM Mounts modular design allows users to create a system of any mounting base, arm and device holder that enables any device to be used in almost any scenario,” said Jacob Parker, RAM Mounts director of business development.
This interchangeability allowed DISH’s field technicians and warehouse personnel to switch out the PC-based laptop computers and replace them with the “phablets” at the end of their work days rather than overnight. And since they were able to reuse the base mounting hardware, each vehicle installation took anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, on average.
RAM Mounts, a corporate brand of Seattle-based National Products Inc., offers mounting systems with a unique rubber ball and socket design that mounts to the vehicle, Parker said. In-house product design, development and manufacturing allow the company to quickly manufacture cradles for the mounting system that can be easily adapted to fit the latest mobile devices. Since the mounting system is modular, customers don’t have to replace the entire mounting system, just the cradles.
“Precision design and manufacturing also contribute to the RAM Mounts superior performance, holding mobile devices securely with vibration dampening for demanding environments,” added Parker.
Rossetti recalls that during the mounting system’s original installation, work had to be completed at night so that DISH’s warehouse personnel could prepare the vehicles by early the next morning for its technicians to respond to customer calls. But that work had to be done so that the technicians’ mobile devices remained securely fastened, protecting DISH’s investment from damage.
In 2014, DISH deployed the next generation of mobile technology, the smaller Samsung Galaxy Note, and more recently, the Galaxy S5. The company moved away from specialized ruggedized devices and adopted devices familiar to its technicians, who use consumer-based mobile technology every day.
“The Samsung devices combine the functionality of laptops with the mobility and portability of cellphones,” Rossetti said. “We’ve given technicians a single, consumer-friendly device that delivers an efficient, seamless experience from the time an appointment is scheduled to the final electronic paperwork with customers.”
These devices are enabled to assist with every step of the technician’s service process, allowing technicians to dynamically check appointments, electronically execute customer service forms and communicate with dispatchers and field office managers.
“Transitioning the in-vehicle experience was simple since we’d originally installed the ruggedized laptops using RAM Mounts,” Rossetti said. “Rather than starting from square one, we were able to build on our existing mounting system when we switched to the Notes.”
Rossetti said that while RAM Mounts’ modular design saves DISH a considerable amount of time and resources in deployment, it also allows the company to complete a much more important task: providing technicians the tools they need to enhance the quality and efficiency of the customer’s experience.
DISH and its regional service providers visit around 20,000 homes and businesses daily, or about 7.3 million per year. These visits include installation for new satellite TV customers, equipment upgrades for existing customers and whole home entertainment solutions by DISH Smart Home Services, which executes TV, audio and in-home wireless network installation, as well as smartphone repair for broken screens and battery replacements.
“We’ve helped our approximately 14 million DISH customers with the nuts and bolts of TV, audio and in-home wireless network installation,” said Rossetti. “Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, brick or drywall, we know that every home is unique, and we specialize in creating the best entertainment setup to fit each customer’s home.”
Each visit ranges in time and scope. Upgrading a customer to the latest TV technology may take 30 minutes or less, while the creation of a customer’s home theater system may take several hours.
“Our technicians are highly-skilled in their field, and they are dedicated to providing the best experience to every single customer,” Rossetti said. “We’ve reviewed every aspect of our process – the uniform, their tools and technology – to enhance the quality of our technicians’ work and ultimately improve the customer’s experience.”
That’s one of the main reasons why DISH’s internal technician workforce moved away from a complicated PC-based management system with productivity-killing firewalls and special programs that required extensive employee training.
“RAM Mounts mounting system can easily adapt to many different devices, allowing DISH to lead the industry in field innovation and remain ready for our next transformation,” Rossetti said. “Today, with partners such as RAM Mounts, our technicians are more responsive, organized and adept at what they do than ever before.”
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