According to the Aberdeen Group report "First-Time Fix: A Metric That Drives Success" the #1 customer complaint regarding field service jobs is that the technician was not able to resolve the issue. While this is obviously frustrating to a customer for a service call, it is potentially disastrous in a technology deployment project.
This difference is important: in a technology deployment, a complex logistical chain involving field technician(s), vendors, and suppliers, must mesh with the availability of on-site customer staff as well as the window of access to the premises itself. While elements of this may be true for service calls, it's rarely to the same extent.
So, when a deployment 'fails', i.e. requires more site visits than originally planned, there is an associated cost overrun for that deployment. This effect is further multiplied in the case of a Volume Rollout project, where hundreds or even thousands of sites are to be deployed. This is because each failure demands the attention of the rollout Project Manager: first to ensure that it is resolved in a timely manner and secondly, to ensure that the circumstances around the failure are fully captured and understood and any lessons learned are incorporated into the continuing schedule of deployments. All of this is expensive in people-time, but essential to ensure the rollout proceeds smoothly.
With this said, when the deployment failure rate is low, this can be performed 'as you go', but as the first-time fix rate drops, Project Management will increasingly become mired in the logistics of rearranging site visits and will not have time to understand underlying issues. The result of this scenario is cost overruns, reduced employee morale (as Project Managers become fire-fighters), significant delays to the rollout project timeline and, most important of all, declining Customer Satisfaction.
The best way to address this challenge is for Field Service organizations to 'head it off at the pass' by committing to a "done right first time" approach, although this is easier to say than to do. For example, the Aberdeen report notes that building a lasting "done right first time" attitude starts at the top of the organization.
Executive sponsorship of strategic initiatives like this is critical to lasting success. Field Service leadership sets the tone in creating a culture that emphasizes quality and provides the tools and training necessary to make it an intrinsic part of everyday working practices.
While the Aberdeen report provides valuable data in this area, another study they co-authored with Service Management software vendor PTC, states that the First Time Fix (FTF) rate for 'Best in Class' performers is only 89%, with the rest of the industry lagging behind with an FTF average of only 71%. These figures are unacceptably low.
Before embarking on your next technology rollout, we suggest that you calculate the impact of an 11% 'best in class' failure rate in the deployments, to see what it could do to your budget, schedule, team morale, and customer experience. If you are using external partners to manage and deploy your project, ask them what their "done right first time" performance number is and ask to see the data that it's based upon.