The world of service has become more complex as each new technology advancement is identified and each opportunity is leveraged to speed issue resolution. But the end goal for most businesses remains the same in just about every industry and for every service organisation – keep customers happy.
Aberdeen’s research on the State of Service Management (January 2013) highlighted that one of top pressures facing businesses was reduced customer spending (48% of respondents, n = 138). In order to retain valuable customers, service organisations must ensure that these customers have assets and pieces of equipment that are productive as often as is physically possible without incurring additional operational costs that will bankrupt the business. Top performing organisations have been able to navigate this complex equation by maintaining the right balance of available service resources to meet fluctuating customer demand.
First time fix
One of the toughest aspects of the service operation to predict is in field service; when will a customer asset break, which tech has the right skills to fix that asset, how many techs should be available to handle peaks in demand? These are just a few questions that arise for the service business on a daily if not hourly basis. Recent Aberdeen research on Field Service showed that the #1 reason why customers were unhappy with service was that the tech did not resolve the issue.
This should come as no surprise, but first-time fix, or worse yet second and third time fix continue to be major challenges for the field service organisation. And the ability to resolve this issue has a direct impact on what differentiates an organisation that will succeed and those organisations that have unsatisfied customers and ultimately fail.
Improving field service performance
But how can organisations improve their performance in field service and thus improve a key metric such as first-time fix? There are a couple of best practices that have helped top performing organisations improve this KPI and not only resolve issues more efficiently but also satisfy this customer priority:
Triage, don’t just schedule the closest tech. Customers want the service organisation to fix problems quickly. But a mistake which can be made by the service organisation is relying on just routing the closest tech to the next job. Too often in this case a technician which is closest to a customer site doesn’t actually have the skill set to resolve an issue.
Nearly six out of ten organisations (58% of respondents) sampled in Aberdeen’s Fixing First-time Fix: Repairing Field Service Efficiency to Enhance Customer Returns report (March 2013) stated that the top way to improve first time fix rates would be to triage or have better diagnosis at the dispatch level to ensure that the problem could be solved by the tech that was being assigned as opposed to just sending a tech to get on the customer site.
Find the right part for the right job. The field service operation isn’t solely tied to techs turning more wrenches in a given day. A very critical aspect of field service often gets neglected in this equation. What happens if a tech shows up on a customer site but they do not have the right part to resolve the issue? Aberdeen’s research on Field Service showed that the top reason issues could not be resolved the first time was that the tech did not have the right part when on site (51% of respondents, n = 156). Technicians must have the visibility of which parts are needed on a given piece of equipment prior to arriving at a customer location because even the best intentioned (and skilled) technician will not be able to fix a down asset without the right part.
Service is simple, keep assets from failing but if they do, ensure that they can be back up and running as quickly as possible. The service promise to the customer isn’t that equipment will never fail, it is that the service organisation will do everything in its power to efficiently resolve these issues in a timely manner. Organisations that cannot keep this promise will quickly find themselves out of business.