How to Increase First-Time Fix Rates to Boost Customer Satisfaction and Revenue
In Field Service Management (FSM), the smallest of mistakes can be the difference between great customer experience and losing business. One of the ‘mistakes’ that greatly affects customer satisfaction is the inability to resolve field service requests on the first fix.
Given an environment rife with competition and the evolution of customer expectations, showing up isn’t good enough. Field Service Organizations (FSOs) need to ensure that the field service agent who gets on the site has the spare parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem, on that first visit. Failure isn’t an option! Return visits of field service agents increase costs and the unintended result of a lost customer.
FSOs are facing increased pressure to maximize efficiency, minimize costs, all the while ensuring good customer experience. Though enhancing brand visibility, offering competitive prices, or enlisting best-in-class field service agents are alternatives to positive customer experience, nothing delights a customer as much as a first-time fix.
What is first-time fix rate (FTFR)
FTFR is to the operation center what first call resolution (FCR) is to the contact center. In definition, first-time fix rate (FTFR) is the percentage of service tickets resolved in the first visit.
FTFR is a measure of how effectively your operation team conducts its business which includes factors such as the complexity and types of service tasks handled, the experience and skills of your field service agents, and the quality of tools and resources available to the agents.
FTFR is one of the top metrics that FSOs are focusing on this year and for good reason — it reduces costs, improves operational efficiency, enhances workforce productivity, and most importantly increases customer satisfaction.
Note: Though FTFR is an indicator of high-quality service, it might not necessarily be the case when:
- It’s a repeat issue or the product is towards the end of its warranty period and thus requires frequent servicing
- FTFR is high but the time taken to respond to the issue is low
In such cases, it is necessary to gauge service quality using FTFR in combination with other relevant metrics.
Why is FTFR important?
According to the findings of independent research done by Aberdeen Group, FTFR is closely related to the success of your service business. 20% of the top-performing companies have a first-time fix rate of 88% while 30% of the poorly performing companies have a first-time fix rate of 63%. There are two key benefits associated with good FTFR.
Improved customer satisfaction
First-time fix rate is a metric that customers truly care about. More than the metric itself, it is the one-visit-one-resolution that matters the most to them. Additionally, it isn’t just current customer relationships that are dependent on FTFR but also future business opportunities are highly influenced by how your FSO solves the customers’ problems today. First-time fix rates are important to set up the next sale, both in the form of renewed contracts as well as referral business.
When a field service agent can find a solution to the problem on the first visit and resolve the customer’s issue, a number of puzzle pieces fall into place. An important driving factor for the long term viability of an FSO is how the field service agents manage their time and service tasks.
FTFR nudges field service agents to manage their workflows better, schedule, and accomplish more tasks in less time. Companies with an FTFR of over 70% experienced 86% customer retention rate and those at the upper end of the FTFR scale saw a 4% growth in annual revenue.
Additionally, if you want your service organization to stay profitable, it is critical to use resources efficiently. By improving FTFR, you can allocate resources judiciously and invest them in the next task without repeated service visits.
How to achieve high FTFR?
Though FTFR is a crucial metric that influences business profitability and customer experience, it is common knowledge that FTFR isn’t an easy-to-achieve metric because it is difficult to define the scope of the problem based on the details in the service ticket or in a single visit. However, here are three steps you can take to increase first-time fix rates.
Provide the necessary resources
Customers tend to retrofit the products with configurations and customizations of their choice. There is a good chance that the field service agent might not be familiar with these changes, making it difficult for the agent to achieve an FTF. Hence, you need to invest in the right technology and equip your field service agents with access to the resources and insights necessary to solve customer issues on the first visit.
Freshdesk FSM’s powerful dispatch solution enables instant access to necessary data, improves service workflows, and enables better collaboration. The FSM tool also solves the hard scheduling problem by quickly routing service tasks to the right agents thereby increasing the chances of FTFR.
Pro tip: Integrate your helpdesk and FSM tool. Information required to determine the scope of the problem is captured in the helpdesk ticket. This can be accessed through the FSM tool. Equipped with all the necessary information, spare parts, and skills required for the job, the field service agent is in a better position to achieve an FTF.
Redefine service success
Customer delight is a moving target. Too often, the field service agents are incentivized to close more requests and turn more wrenches than to ensure perfect resolution to the customer’s problem. Hence it is important to empower your team with more than just tools for the job — encourage them to stay with the customer until the job is done right. Consider measuring the service team on the success of the customer instead of their ability to meet SLAs.
Pro tip: If your FTFR does not resonate with your customer satisfaction scores, consider how you’re defining FTFR and fix it.
Invest in continuous improvement
Achieving success and business growth is a continuous team effort. FSM requires a coordinated effort from all the FSM team members including those responsible for scheduling, workflows, communication methods, and technology use. Such a seamless process is not achieved overnight. It requires time, effort, and the right FSM tools for an FSO to achieve competitive levels of field service performance and efficiency.
First-time fix rate is a great metric to keep track of your service team’s performance, improve customer service, and profitability. But remember not to take it at face value. Think about how you are measuring FTFR. For a more holistic view of your team’s efficiency and to identify gaps in your service process consider other metrics that you can track in addition to FTFR. This way you can get a more accurate measurement that can help identify areas of improvement.