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Tracking First Time Fix ratios

First Time Fix (FTF) ratio or First Time Fix Rate (FTFR) is a great metric to indicate your customer service levels. The higher the figure, the more likely your customers are happy with your services. A FTF figure higher than 85% is both an indication that you are providing excellent customer service and a remarkably difficult figure to reach.

Like most metrics, there are a number of myths about FTF, and there are also a number of ways to fudge it.  To be clear, FTF is achieved when the issue at hand is solved in a single movement without break or delay. FTF also is measured differently for organisations providing services to external customers than for those providing in-house servicing. You may also have different FTF targets for different classes of machinery, or different types of jobs. (Be careful though, that you do not let excuses slip in here to tempt you to lower an FTF target for the sake of expediency or monthly reporting stats).

As an example, a field technician sent to the customer's premises who is able to fix a broken machine because he has both the knowledge and the correct part with him, achieves FTF on that job.  Similarly, a mechanic in a workshop that is fixing a breakdown on company machinery may also be considered to have achieved FTF when he finished work for the day, returned the next and completed the repair without having to order and wait for parts. In this case, the machinery only required one trip to the workshop for the repair, and the minimum downtime possible was achieved.

Conversely, an on-site technician who has to return with the right parts, or is not certified to complete the work to a standard is unable to achieve FTF. We don't have to tell you that field service is a notoriously unpredictable activity. You already know how difficult it is to rightly divine the true cause of a malfunctoin when the only information you were given by the customer is, "It just stopped working."

The single biggest step towards improving your FTF rate is made when your service personnel are committed to "getting it right the first time". Sure, having the right systems in place to ensure the right parts are available when they are needed, and having your people trained adequately, are essential requirements; but if your service people do not have a personal commitment to reaching a mandated FTF figure, all your systems will do is highlight the fact that you are not reaching your FTF targets.

Let's also be clear about something else. When it comes to improving your FTF rates, scheduling has little to do with the answer. You may think we are being provacative with this assertion, but it falls in line with our previous comment. Scheduling is a great tool to use for a whole list of reasons that happen to include improving FTF rates, but improving scheduling alone will have absolutely no impact on your FTF targets. There will be no point in having the right tech turn up on time, or the machine arrive at your workshop when expected, to find that the parts are not available or the problem has been mis-diagnosed.

The very fact that FTF is a difficult target to reach indicates why it is such an important metric. Improving your FTF rates will not happen overnight, but a committed effort to acheiving these targets will bring the rich rewards that come with high customer satisfaction.

Posted by Mark Chimes
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