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Empower your field service agents by giving them the tools, information and resources they need to complete their jobs the first time.

Field service agents can be your superheroes. Often they’re called on short notice, without necessarily getting a full briefing, and are always expected to be able to jump into any catastrophe and fix it.

However, even superheroes don’t always get it right the first time – their movies would be pretty short if there weren’t extenuating circumstances (a kidnapped family, a fan who thinks they can help too or – our least favourite superhero movie trope - the damsel in distress) ruining their shot at first-call resolution.

Your superheroes, your field service agents will often make two or three repeat visits before the problem is fixed.

While most people appreciate a feature-length film, customers expect their problems to be solved quickly, the first time. For this reason, many consider the ‘first-time fix rate’ the holy grail of field service.

Currently, the top 20% of companies for customer satisfaction achieve an average ‘first-time fix rate’ of 88%, with their next best competitors managing just 63%.

Clearly, this is something your customers notice and value, and providing a rapid, productive, and connected experience can help you stand out from the crowd. Here are 3 ways you can improve your first-time fix rate.

 

1. Be prepared

 

One of the biggest challenges for field service agents is having the right tools and information at the right time, and it can often mean service agents will have to come back to complete the job at a later time.

In ServiceMax’s State of Field Service survey of 2015, 76% of customers expressed dissatisfaction with field technicians for being unable to resolve a problem on the first visit.

And the pain is shared, as underprepared service agents are needlessly exposed to disgruntled customers and wasted time.

So, how can you help your agents to be better prepared when they arrive? One option is a connected field service system, which connects them over a unified platform in the cloud, for painless job management, scheduling and dispatch.

That means you can communicate with, inform, and monitor agents from any mobile device, and ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to prepare for every job, every time.

 

2. Keep in touch

 

Communication is vital for a successful working environment – and that counts for double in field service.

For example: a customer requires an urgent fix within three hours of contact, so you assign the nearest technician to the job – only they can’t make it in time, as their last job took longer than expected. If they fail to inform their peers, a frantic panic ensues to find a closer technician, leading to a missed deadline or a repeat visit due to a lack of time to prepare.

Having open lines of communication means you and your agents are aware of each other’s whereabouts, workloads and timelines, allowing you to develop strategies to meet your customers’ needs and expectations on the first visit.

Yet, as of 2016, 52% of service agents still used manual methods to handle their field agents, despite their lack of accessibility.

Companies need technology that allows them to see and talk to their entire service landscape and monitor their agents’ movements in real-time, so that they can easily direct and communicate with all technicians for a more efficient, empowered and unified workforce.

 

3. Embrace field service data

 

If you see analysis of your service data as 'something you might get around to one day', you are not alone. Eight in 10 service providers say they “proactively use less than half of their available data”. That’s a huge missed opportunity to make each call more efficient and effective, and to impress customers by solving potential problems before they happen.

For example: the same customer keeps phoning in, and your technician repeatedly ‘fixes it’ – but in reality, they are doing so incorrectly, leading to yet another problem. If your service data was being monitored properly, this trend would be flagged and a different technician could be sent to investigate – hopefully resolving the problem.

Similarly, taking a closer look at service data can help you identify underlying issues at the customer’s site – perhaps incorrect use, or a wrong specification. Spotting these causes enables you to move proactively, saving the customer – and yourself – time, money and stress.

Service agents would also benefit from the data, gaining key insights that could help them fix thing faster. Currently, 38% of service agents say they don’t have access to all the information they need on the job.

Tools can help you get the most out of your data to improve both the customer and service agent experience. Monitoring and managing agent performance in real time lets you refine your service – while agents get the easily accessible (and plainly presented) information they need to prepare for the job ahead, and recognise underlying issues before they even arrive.

Likewise, if a product is showing signs of repeat failure, both you and your agents will know about it, allowing them to gear up and resolve it, fast.

 

Let them be heroes

 

Connecting your service agents not only helps minimise communication frustrations (yours and theirs), but it can have a significant knock-on effect on your overall first-time fix rate.

Agents will have all the information they need to prepare for a job in their pocket, and if they do run into a sticky situation, they can easily update their peers and call for help. They’re empowered to provide the quality of service that both you and your customers expect – and which they want to give.

You’ll see the results in your customer satisfaction scores – and your team will be happier, too.

For more insights into how you can boost your field service performance, take a look at our free Field Service Lightening demo.