Donald B. Stephens is a 30-year senior customer service engineer with the Xerox Corporation. Here, he makes a case for why simple music streaming apps like Pandora and Spotify can pay dividends for service organizations. His advice? Don’t stress the mobile data that technicians use to stream their favorite tunes.

shutterstock_262741700The explosion of smartphones in the field has created a new threat to the bottom line: excessive data charges. Streaming music, video and online games can chew through data allowances, turning a manageable wireless expense into an accounting nightmare.

But managers are left in a tricky spot: Should you demand that all non-business data usage end immediately? It seems reasonable. You didn’t give technicians smartphones so they could listen to music, after all. But don’t unplug your technicians’ data before considering how music streaming apps might help reduce stress, a major inhibitor of workplace productivity.

Music to Mellow Out and Concentrate

A University of Nevada (Reno) study found that stress relief is one of the many benefits of listening to music at work. The study suggests that music, depending on type, can also increase concentration, alertness and optimism. Music just might be give technicians relief from stress-inducing work (think: angry customers or emergency repairs).

Traditional Vs. Streaming Radio

Why can’t they just listen to the radio? It’s a legitimate question. My own experience with Spotify versus the only modern rock station in the area will clue you in on why I’m a true streaming believer.

When I moved to central Pennsylvania several years ago, I gave up on the radio as an option for music. I’ve always liked cutting-edge music, but the local rock station played so many moldy oldies I soon found myself switching to talk radio. But with my smartphone, connected via Bluetooth to the radio, I can choose from a multitude of genre-based radio stations or even create my own playlist. I can skip any song that I don’t like, and there’s no annoying DJ. Plus, even the free version of Spotify serves fewer commercials than traditional radio.

Technology Training Tool

If your service reps are new to field service dispatching software, they could possibly resent technology being thrust upon them. Companies have tried to ease employees’ discomfort and instill a sense of ownership by encouraging them to play games on new laptops or tablets. Letting your techs use some data to listen to a few tunes might make them enjoy, or care for, the devices a bit more, too.

Beware the Real Data Thieves

Volume11_Kainet_flickrStreaming music apps aren’t the true data hogs. The real culprits are apps that stream video (YouTube, anyone?) or turn a phone’s data connection into a WiFi hotspot. That said, employees who use streaming music services still need to be careful. Left running in the background, most music apps will continue to chip away at your company’s data limit. Spotify also has a feature that allows users to adjust the sound quality. The higher the quality, the more data that’s consumed.

Nobody can force employees to listen to music in the field or while driving to the next service call. But once your techs discover the beauty of song skipping, zero annoying radio personalities and fewer commercials, they might just choose music again. Pretty soon, they’ll be whistling all the way to work — and while they work, too.