We live in the golden age of data when information flows in from a myriad of sources. Now more than ever before, customer data can provide increased value to field service organizations (FSOs) and likewise help companies establish better service KPIs. But deriving real-time insights from all the information available can be overwhelming.

Author Radiana Pit | Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

It is all the more daunting considering that field service technicians lacking access to real-time, actionable insights can create an expensive disadvantage for most FSOs. This is reflected in Aquant’s 2022 Service Intelligence Benchmark Report, which shows that the bottom quarter of the workforce costs organizations 84% more than the top quarter—4% more than last year when the industry was still tackling pandemic-related restrictions. 

And in today’s inflationary environment, when service costs have gone up by 7% compared to last year according to Aquant’s latest research data, both customers and FSOs are looking to save as many resources as possible without compromising value and service excellence. 

As we prepare to discuss the new report data, how to slash parts costs, and how to improve KPIs in 2023 at the Field Service Forum US Virtual Seminar with Aquant and Haemonetics, we explore the importance of service intelligence in delivering customer value at a lower cost without compromising the customer experience (CX).

Direct correlation between the first-time-fix rate and cost

At the Aftermarket Physical Summit hosted in Sweden in October 2022, Aquant’s Service Principal Sidney Lara explained that “if all FSOs had service technicians that executed service excellently on the first visit, it would massively reduce the noise and increase the first-time-fix (FTF) rate at a minimal cost.”

According to the company’s Intelligence Benchmark Report, the average FTF rate remains at 75%, although many FSOs are aiming for at least 85% or higher. The 20% of FSOs at the bottom have an FTF rate of 37% while the 20% of FSOs at the top have an FTF rate of 94%.

FSOs that fall very low at a 37% FTF rate usually visit customer sites multiple times. The repeat visits incur costs around dispatch, labor hours, parts, and downtime, to name a few. The more a technician has to return to a customer site, the more company resources are leaked, unnecessary parts are being applied, and the customer experience is also compromised in the process. Very simply, both FSOs and their customers are paying a high cost in downtime, labor hours, and other expenses due to repeat visits. And so it becomes quite apparent that the way FSOs measure the FTF rate can either widen or close the customer experience gap.

Most FSOs measure the FTF rate per incident, closing the invoice after the first seemingly successful customer visit, but doing so might offer a false understanding of not only service performance but also customer experience. And so Aquant recommends that FSOs measure their FTF rate over a period of 30 days. And the reason is customer-centric. 

Between the first customer visit when the technician might have successfully replaced a part and the end of the 30 days thereafter, the customer may call again to request services because their equipment might still be faulty. Although unrelated at the first glance, the reported malfunctions could very well be symptoms of the same root problem, which begs the question: does alleviating one symptom count as a successful first-time repair?

Logically, it does not. And so when looking at invoice data over a period of time from this perspective, Aquant noticed a 20% deaggregation in FTF rates. This further enforced the importance of measuring the FTF rate over a period of time because if the customer has to request services again despite a successful part replacement or repair on the first visit, their experience is not optimal. 

A more calculated incident response enhances satisfaction

The service sector is a highly orchestrated environment, where everything from talent shortage to customer escalations is interconnected and often mutually dependent. Such an intricate system requires strategic thinking and focus. But where should an FSO focus more? With the customer at the heart of any service business, the focus should be on the customer, of course.

Typically, if a customer requests service for a product that is not working, the technician often addresses the issue by replacing a part or fixing it without an initial or further inquiry. And when the problem persists and the customer calls again, things escalate and the costs paid by both the company and the customer tend to increase.

Aquant’s vision of a superior customer service experience involves a more calculated, data-driven response that is not merely reactive to customer incidents and escalations. When the customer makes the first call, the technician should be able to record the symptoms and ask the right questions to identify the cause of the incident. Instead of reacting to the symptoms, the technician can instead understand the issue and correlate it with the appropriate solution, thus creating immediate and cost-effective advantages that drive up satisfaction and margins on both sides.

To help FSOs deliver excellent customer service experiences, Aquant’s service intelligence solution involves language processing that draws data from chat logs, technician notes, and machine logs. Technician notes often get bypassed but they contain distinctive observations for specific failure modes and fixes. The solution created by Aquant illustrates symptoms and solutions on a heat map to draw correlations between the actual failure mode and the best way to address it. 

It likewise provides FSOs and technicians with behavioral insights, and analogies to solve issues, and it also enables them to see how parts are misused. When technicians are not entirely sure how to solve certain incidents, they oftentimes end up allocating too many parts without fixing the issue, negatively impacting margins and the customer experience due to constant disruption.

To solve the right problems with the right solutions, FSOs can leverage high-impact observations that specify where more training is needed and what type of training is needed; this enables them to be more prescriptive in order to elevate the workforce and lower the costs of recurring visits and parts misuse.

Slashing costs and enhancing CX in 2023

Delivering exceptional value at a lower cost is undoubtedly challenging considering that the industry is simultaneously tackling a myriad of obstacles such as economic uncertainty, talent shortage, and increasing customer expectations. So how can FSOs achieve service excellence in these challenging circumstances? 

Find out on the 17th of November 2022 at the Field Service Forum US Virtual Seminar. Aquant will be joined by Juan Cruz, Director of Service Operations NA at Haemonetics, for an informative session that will show you how top-performing organizations are boosting service while controlling costs after having reevaluated how they measure success and invested in the right tools to manage workforce performance.

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