First-Time Fix is one of the most frequently measured key performance indicators (KPI) used by Field Service Organizations (FSOs). It is a very powerful metric to track. This KPI measures the percentage of times field service engineers (FSEs) are dispatched to a customer site and have the skills and parts with them to resolve the issue on the first visit. It is a powerful metric because it provides an indication of the FSO’s financial and operational health. In this sense, it is like the DNA of field service.
Why is this so? First, FTF is a measure of service quality and customer satisfaction. Resolving an issue the first time demonstrates to the customer that they are dealing with a quality organization. As a result, FSOs that deliver quality service will typically have higher customer satisfaction ratings than those that do not. Second, FTF impacts revenue because customers are less likely to renew service contracts or purchase additional services if they are unhappy with the quality of service they are already receiving.
Third, FTF provides a measurement of field service productivity. FSOs that experience high FTF are by definition more productive. This is because they are able to resolve more service calls per day. If FSEs are more productive, the FSO essentially can do more with less. In other words, the FSO does not have to hire as many new FSEs to handle additional work if service demand increases. Assuming the additional work brings with it additional revenue, revenue per FSE also increases. As this metric improves, so do gross margins and operating income.
Finally, companies with a high FTF experience lower operating costs than those with a low FTF. This is because if a call is not completed on the first visit, a second dispatch is required. Sometimes the call is not completed on the first visit due to lack of a spare part, in which case the FSE must travel to pick up the part or return when the part is delivered to the customer by courier. In a recent survey conducted by our firm, we found that Best-in-Class companies experience an FTF rate of 98.3% compared to the industry average of 77.8%. With service calls ranging in cost from $150 to $1,000 per event, the expenses for making repeat visits can be astronomical. Assume, for example, an average cost per call of $150 and total service visits of 100, 000 per year. If 22.2% of these calls are due to repeat visits then the FSO is incurring an additional $3.3M in expenses from its FTF of 77.8%.
There are of course a number of strategies and tactics an FSO can pursue to improve FTF. First, FSOs can improve FSE skill sets through better training. Second, they can perform better screening and diagnosis at the time of initial request so that when an FSE is dispatched he/she understands both the nature of the problem and the resources (i.e., skills, parts, etc.) needed to resolve the issue. Third, they can utilize intelligent scheduling to ensure the availability of both skilled FSEs and correct parts. Fourth, they can provide FSEs with access to better knowledge and information in the field through knowledge tools or access to technical support personnel.