For companies relying on field service teams, there is a balancing act. How do you reduce costs and boost revenue while maintaining, or hopefully, improving customer service levels? The answer often comes down to one simple metric. How often does your field service team successfully complete a call to a client site the first time they visit the site?

Research by the Aberdeen Group found that the biggest source of customer service complaints was because the technician couldn’t resolve the issue they were called about. Its research found that the best companies managed to resolve almost nine out every ten calls the first time, ahead of the industry average of 80%. Companies identified as “laggards” hit the mark fewer than two-thirds of the time. Incredibly, 17% don’t even track their first-time fix rate.

When a problem is not fixed the first time, the costs for the service providers mount up quickly. From the fuel cost to send a technician back, to the administrative overhead of having to reschedule the task, the cost of not fixing a problem the first time can more than double the cost for a business. And that second visit to the customer will not deliver revenue as the customer is unlikely to foot the bill for subsequent callouts.

For service-focussed businesses, fixing problems on the first visit allows them to generate more revenue. When each service call generates fees, the more successfully completed calls means more revenue. If service teams are returning to a site to complete a job, your revenue is directly impacted as they can’t complete as many jobs.

If a service call is not resolved when the technician attends the site the first time, there is a direct cost and an impact on ongoing revenue. But the impacts can be even more substantial. Repeat customers are the lifeblood of all businesses and perceived poor service can be the difference between retaining a customer and losing them.

The Aberdeen Group’s research also found that the most common customer complaint about field services is unfinished jobs – outranking late arrivals as their main concern. Unhappy customers waste their time chasing up unfinished work and can choose to take their business elsewhere.

The most important things a field service organisation can do to ensure its first-time fix rate is as high as possible is to ensure all the relevant information is collected and that it is made available to the right field service technician. Field service management software (FSMS) is a powerful tool to help you improve your first-time fix rate.

The right FSMS solution captures information about the customer’s site and enables operators to provide technicians with the information they need when they arrive on site. Further, when armed with the right data, the FSMS can assign jobs to the best person to complete a job. This ensures that the task can be completed on the first visit without having to send a second technician.

Measuring your first-time fix rate is critical to understanding where you can make cost saving, increase revenue and improve customer service.