Industry leaders agree that when it comes to field service metrics, the almighty first-time fix rate rules the roost. The resolution of a customer issue on the first visit not only means happier customers, but also fewer truck rolls, less time spent on-site and more jobs per technician — all of which equal lower field service costs and higher profits.

However, companies name customer satisfaction, not first-time fix rate, as the primary focus. In 2017, 58 percent of field service execs reported that improving customer satisfaction was the top priority in their organization. It might seem strange that industry leaders recommend prioritizing first-time fix rates, yet field service leaders prioritize customer satisfaction.

Consider that 61 percent of service executives say that a technician failing to resolve an issue on the first visit is the top customer complaint. It doesn’t take long for any field service technicians to quickly figure out the connection between fixing stuff and happy customers, once they deal with a couple of frustrated ones.

Knowledge Management Drives First-Time Fix Rates and Customer Satisfaction

So, what does knowledge management have to do with first-time fix rates or customer satisfaction?

In a recent survey, The Service Council found that 63 percent of respondents said they needed better access to knowledge bases and service manuals.

In addition, Aberdeen Group estimates that 19 percent of first-time fixes are missed because the technician did not have access to the correct technical information, while the Service Council found that the average technician spends 29 percent of their time on-site looking for information. This means for every hour spent on-site, a technician dedicates nearly 18 minutes searching for the knowledge required to perform the fix. Assuming the cost of a technician is $60 per hour and the tech visits three customers per day, the cost of finding knowledge is $54 per day, or $11,000 per year per technician. Delivering mobile, well-organized, vetted and actionable knowledge to technicians could cut this cost in half.

The message is clear: Access to knowledge equals higher first-time fix rates, increased customer satisfaction and lower costs.

Create a Knowledge Management System that Empowers Your Technicians

If you agree that providing technicians with better access to knowledge will cause key performance indicators to improve, the next question is what does knowledge management look like in practice.

The first step toward better knowledge management? Organizations must establish where the knowledge lives. Typically, the information that technicians need is found in long lists of disparate documents, part lists, part images, FAQs, how-to-videos, exploded diagrams and databases totaling hundreds of pages. On average, technicians report that they regularly access 13 separate sources of information to solve customer issues.

What’s more, that knowledge is often unintentionally locked up in corporate silos and inefficient content management systems in the form of lengthy PDFs, SharePoint files and spreadsheets. These systems are difficult to use, or just plain inaccessible, while technicians are on-site.

Once an organization has identified where the knowledge is, the next stage is to determine how the various data sources could be consolidated and converted to create a single, curated knowledge base that will be easily accessible to technicians in the field. Often times, this process requires some specialist outside help.

A field service knowledge base also needs to be mobile, easily searchable and developed using a specifically created platform to handle technical knowledge. And\ the entire knowledge solution must be kept current. Outdated and inaccurate information will cause a technician to lose trust quickly.

Better Knowledge Management Creates Best-in-Class Organizations

If a field service organization wishes to achieve best-in-class excellence, according to Aberdeen, it must be able to deliver 90 percent first-time fix rates and 92 percent customer satisfaction rates. These benchmarks are getting more difficult to achieve as customer expectations rise and equipment becomes more complex. It’s enough to cause field service leaders many sleepless nights.

This is why investing in the right knowledge management solution is essential. To meet those heightened expectations, field service organizations must ensure that the entire team has access to the knowledge required to complete jobs the first-time and leave customers smiling.

ABOUT Bo Wandell

Avatar photoBo Wandell is Vice President of AnswersAnywhere. A 30-year veteran of technology companies including successful startups based in Silicon Valley and Seattle, Bo has spent a significant portion of his career focused on creating and selling technologies and services focused on knowledge management methodologies that help corporations differentiate their interactions with customers. Bo is focused on helping AnswersAnywhere customers leverage knowledge management to create an integrated field service experience that is valued by end-users. When not working, Bo enjoys taking advantage of the all the outdoor activities the Pacific Northwest offers including hiking and snowshoeing, crabbing, shrimping, fishing and clamming.