How Does a First-Time Fix in Field Services Affect Customer Experience?

Every field services company wants to provide a good customer experience, so you're likely to schedule appointments quickly and make sure your tech arrives on time. And while you hope that the matter is resolved on your first visit, you may expect a service call to take a second trip before it's fixed. After all, the tech has to figure out what's going on, assess the problem and see if the parts are on the truck, etc.

If that describes your approach, I've got bad news. You're emphasizing the wrong standards. Customers care more about getting the job done right the first time than anything else.

In fact, a report from the Aberdeen Group suggests that the biggest complaints customers have is that the repair didn't get fixed the first time (61 percent), with fewer complaining about waiting to get an appointment (51 percent) or the technician showing up on time (41 percent).

In other words, your customer experience will stand out from the competition more if you get the job done right the first time.

The Aberdeen Group has been tracking the data on first-time fix rates over the past few years and say that service companies definitely are getting better at this metric.

In 2013, the average-performing service organization had a first-time fix rate of 75 percent. By 2015, that average rate had increased by 5 percentage points, up to 80 percent. The best-in-class service organizations were able to fix a problem on the first visit 88 percent of the time.

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How a strong first-time fix rate helps your company

Obviously, it costs a company to send a tech back for a second visit—averaging something like $250 per truck roll. More importantly, the companies that fix an issue on the first visit not only avoid the extra costs of a second trip, they also:

  • Improve customer experience
  • Increase customer retention rates
  • Improve chances of making cross-sells or upsells
  • Enhance overall revenue and referrals

Steps to take to bump up first-time fix rates

The obvious first step is to monitor how frequently your company gets it right the first time, and chances are you're tracking this already. Most service companies do.

Next is to make sure the tech has the needed parts for the job, which is the most frequent reason why companies need to do a second visit (51 percent of the time, Aberdeen says). Remedying this issue often involved a complete review of the servicing process to see where weak points might occur. But often the answers are tactical. For example:

  • If the dispatch unit can tell the technician what parts seem to be needed, the tech can ensure those parts are already on the truck or can be retrieved from a warehouse before the visit.
  • Service history records can also help anticipate issues by letting the tech know what's been fixed in the past.
  • A well-trained technician who can readily see relevant information from the field through a mobile device can likely zero in on what is required, either by looking at the service history or other information on likely part failures for the unit being serviced.

Experts do not recommend emphasizing speed at the expense of first-time fix rate. Customers are less likely to be satisfied that a tech shows up in 20 minutes and can't make the repair on that first visit than if the tech promises to be on site in two hours and gets the job done.

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