Editor's Blog


It Was Working When I Left

April 4, 2010
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“It was working when I left” was the sick sarcastic joke of a response I used to get from some of my troublesome Techs when I would confront them the next day with a callback. Remember, I came from a NY shop.

Think it’s only me? Bet you have experienced the same thing at your shop. And just as bad, you’ve probably experienced this from the comfort of your own home as a customer subjected to inferior service.

It’s not that as Techs we don’t make mistakes…WE all do!

The trick is to make less stupid ones. So, the goal is to have a high batting average of calls run vs. calls that became callbacks. The best measurement I use with clients is to track their Callback Ratio as follows:
    Ex: I do 100 service calls and 5 of them ended up as callbacks. My callback ratio would be 5% and that’s just about the industry average at a fairly proficient shop.

You might be thinking, “That’s a really high number.” And you’d be right unless you measure callbacks the way I do and the way I have my clients do it.

The definition of a callback is anytime a customer calls to complain for any reason within 30 days of a visit to do work. This would probably include a sales callback [not happy with the price as an example], operational callback [they broke something or left a mess for instance] or a technical callback [whatever they fixed is still not working].

After applying this new definition of callbacks, I bet your callback ratio is higher than you thought it was. And that’s okay as long as you are prepared to do something about it.

The key is to supply training in all three areas that lead to callbacks [sales, operational and technical]. Of the three I just mentioned, the number one biggest generator of callbacks is poor sales training. That’s because sales is really all about good communication and anytime there is short cutting of the sales process there is bound to be an inability to manage the customer’s unrealistic expectations. You will leave them in the dark about what you’re doing, what they must do or the value of what you did for them.

Sometimes, the callback is not the Techs fault. It’s faulty equipment that is generating the problem. You’ll always be guessing unless you measure.

With all this said, the reality is many stupid callbacks could be avoided in the first place if you just created an Exit Checklist that the Techs must use on each and every call with each and every customer. It makes them review what they did and how things work with a customer before moving on to their next call.

It also helps the Techs avoid the type of stupid callbacks like leaving a pair of jumpers on a control, an emergency switch off or a thermostat turned all the way up or all the way down. Any way you mess up, you’ll be back fixing it and that’s a big drain on customer satisfaction and profitability.

The simple Exit Checklist helps them take the time to stay in a system that will make avoiding the really silly callbacks doable. The nice thing about running through an Exit Checklist with a customer is it builds value. And if there’s a problem that was missed now is the time to address it.

Make sure to keep it to one page and put a small line in front of each item they’re checking and have the Techs initial it in front of the customer and then have the customer sign off at the bottom of the form.

Do this and watch your callback ratio tumble and your profits soar!

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