Businesses today need maximum productivity and real returns on their investments. One way: giving your customers the best in service.That’s where wireless communications has taken a great leap forward, says Laura McCallum, director of Real Estate at Reston, VA-based Nextel Communications Inc. “A top-notch work order dispatch system optimizes customer response time – as well as the allocation of facilities staff. We’re moving from a transaction-oriented real estate industry to a relationship-oriented industry, where tenant expectations and satisfaction require a new level of customer service. By using effective mobile communications, facilities professionals can expedite technicians faster and more effectively [externally], and better quantify and manage staffing issues [internally].” The result is clearly a win-win.Today, the options in mobile communications can run from simple to extensive: voice capabilities, through two-way radios and cellular phones; enhanced data applications; text messaging; interactive data applications; and more. Whereas many companies want to sell a specific product or service, the Nextel philosophy, notes McCallum, is geared to providing business solutions. “We are a B-to-B company,” she explains, “and for that reason we have a broad portfolio of business solutions. Because we focus on business, we feel we provide a much more focused value proposition to a business customer.“We want to be your partner in planning what’s the best way to meet your communications needs and satisfy your tenants, while keeping costs down and increasing efficiency. We want to understand your business need. What are you using now? With wireless number portability, now is a great time to examine what you’re using, examine those costs, analyze the way you’re using it, and see if a broader portfolio of business solutions can provide more value to you.”Among a few of the Nextel offerings: Direct Connect® coast-to-coast digital walkie-talkie service. “There’s still a lot of use of two-way radios in the industry,” explains McCallum. “Nextel’s Direct Connect is an identical application but used over a broader area,” which means facilities departments can provide – literally – instant voice communication across their entire portfolio from a centralized location. Plus, if something happens to telephone lines during an emergency/disaster, personnel are still able to communicate using the Direct Connect system.GPS-enabled handsets. Save time and money when dispatchers are easily able to locate – and then communicate via voice or data capabilities – the technician closest to a facilities-related problem or emergency. Eliminate guesswork and time in the dispatch process.Barcode and other scanning capabilities. Reduce time and errors in paperwork with barcode scanning capabilities; now, tenants can be easily charged back for work that is completed over and above their contract. Barcode scanning can authorize access and egress to certain facilities or areas in a facility. Another example: Facilities personnel that must ensure their security guards are walking a specific route can incorporate a barcode marking and scanning capability along that route.Text messaging and other data capabilities. Preventive maintenance schedules/delivery and materials/parts ordering can be accomplished on-site by technicians, preventing many of the delays and/or errors that can occur in a paper-based system.Linda K. Monroe (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.