Field communications are critical to operational efficiency and customer service, but the technology provided to frontline workers has often lagged behind what is available to their colleagues at corporate headquarters.
Verizon’s transformative Push to Talk Plus service — combined with rugged smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro — provides seamless communication and collaboration between all team members, whether they’re in the field, at the office or working from home.
LMR vs. smartphone-based PTT
Traditional two-way land mobile radios (LMRs) are sturdy, but they constrain communications to a fixed geography, becoming unreliable beyond a certain radius. LMR’s narrowband operations also limit communications to voice only; sharing large documents or videos is virtually impossible. And the significant services cost expenditure to build and maintain an LMR network presents another stumbling block.
“Verizon Push to Talk Plus offers the advantages of group communication like a radio, but with wider geographical coverage through the 4G LTE network,” explains Linda Jackson, product management and development manager at Verizon. “It also incorporates multimedia messaging, including text, photos, documents, videos, location sharing and audio messages.”
Verizon Push to Talk Plus is compatible with many existing LMR systems, so it can be phased in as a complementary communications platform. Customers don’t need to worry about replacing their existing LMR system because Push to Talk Plus allows them to integrate your LMRs into an interoperable Push to Talk Plus system.
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What’s holding back adoption of smartphones for LMR users?
In developing the Push to Talk Plus service, the Verizon team looked closely at what enterprises and field workers liked most about existing LMR and what was holding back the adoption of smartphones. In particular, what customers like about LMR is the performance and reliability of using ruggedized devices in a managed environment.
It was critical, therefore, that Verizon Push to Talk Plus was paired with devices that were built for field use, with a rugged form-factor and instant access to voice communications.
That’s where Verizon’s collaboration with Samsung on the rugged Galaxy XCover Pro entered the equation. Preloaded with Verizon Push to Talk Plus, the XCover Pro features a dedicated push-to-talk (PTT) button for fast communications, a rugged design that has stood up to 22 MIL-STD-810 tests, a long-lasting, field-replaceable battery, and a vivid 6.3-inch screen with enhanced touch for use when wearing gloves.
With a quick press of the XCover key, field service workers can instantly access Verizon Push to Talk Plus and connect with a talk group, just as they would with a two-way radio.
But the combination of Verizon Push to Talk Plus and the XCover Pro does far more than replicate the two-way radio experience. “Verizon continues to invest in push-to-talk communications for both enterprise and public safety. And with the Push to Talk Plus app, our customers get functionality that extends beyond voice, providing the flexibility to securely communicate more quickly and with more people at once,” says Daniel Falkner, Director of Product Management, Verizon Business Products.
Here are five ways organizations can use this smartphone-based PTT solution to elevate their field communications:
1. Communicate reliably and efficiently
Historically, reaching field workers has been challenging. Radio communications only worked within a limited radius. Dispatchers had to call and, if the field worker had their hands full at the time, it could easily turn into a game of phone tag. Other workers who couldn’t directly communicate with their colleagues in the field had to route questions back through dispatch.
Verizon Push to Talk Plus brings everyone together. Organizations can quickly create talk groups with all the relevant team members, whether field-based or office-based, allowing them to communicate instantly. A dispatcher looking to contact a group of workers in one specific area, for example, can quickly locate them on the map view and initiate a new voice call or chat. These capabilities help significantly improve collaboration, field worker productivity and operational decision-making.
2. Resolve a service problem quickly
At the customer job site, field workers are limited to their own experience and technical expertise. So when they encounter a challenging situation, they have to either call in for help — and risk inadequately describing the problem at hand — or reschedule the service appointment, assigning the task to more experienced service personnel.
Verizon Push to Talk Plus offers other options. Field service workers can create a group of fellow professionals they can lean on for help. On the XCover Pro, the worker can capture a short video and share that with the support talk group or an individual, requesting feedback on a technical issue. Dispatch can also send a PDF or other technical documentation to the worker to help them work through the issue. All this is handled on one device using a single app.
3. Find the closest available worker
In the event that multiple field service workers need to attend to an urgent customer callout, dispatchers can use location data in Verizon Push to Talk Plus to identify and alert nearby team members to the need for extra hands or assign a job to the closest person available. Dispatch might initiate a group call with four workers in the area to see who’s free and assign the task to the first worker who responds. Geolocation data also helps dispatch to route work crews effectively. Field service workers looking for a certain piece of equipment or spare part can similarly reach out to all nearby personnel. This leads to more satisfied customers and more efficient service delivery.
4. Know which workers are on site
A team leader who wants to know which field workers are on the job can quickly create a geo-fence that encircles the job site. The talk group supervisor uses Verizon Push to Talk Plus location services to keep track of group members, and they can opt in to receive alerts when a group member enters or leaves the area. This tracking also helps log contractor work hours more accurately.
5. Broadcast company announcements
Dispersed organizations need to ensure all team members are aligned on a specific goal for a day, or kept informed of other company announcements. Verizon Push to Talk Plus allows the organization to reach 500 users with a single broadcast. It’s easy to get the message out to everyone in the field, whether by voice, message or an instant personal alert. By relaying a morning announcement to all employees, wherever they are, everyone is kept in the loop.