When Is a Repeat Visit a Call Back?

call backAt some point in the past we have all taken our vehicles in for a repair; if when you did this the shop only fixed it correctly 45 percent of the time would you consider that quality service? If you hired a contractor to build a home and only 45 percent of the construction was correct would you live in the home?  These questions may sound ridiculous, however when it comes to fixing customer devices in the imaging industry, most companies perform at or below this percentage. BEI Services has been measuring ‘call backs’ for over 22 years, and this article will explain in detail how we do it, what it means and its importance to your dealerships profitability.

First let’s discuss the definition: A call back is generally a customer request for service that is following a previous request too quickly.

Second is how is this number represented: BEI defines this number as the “Percentage of times a customer will require an additional visit for service following an initial request.” Below is an example:

A customer calls in for service due to poor image quality. That service call would be defined as an EM or emergency call. The next day they call back because they are still experiencing image quality issues. For the sake of this example, assume this is a call back (CB). You now have an EM + CB, which would be defined as a 100 percent call back rate (one call back for one EM). This is the percentage of times the technician returned to this customer based on the original service call. Adding onto this example, let’s assume the tech realizes that they don’t have the needed parts on the second visit and must incomplete that call and return with additional parts. This in BEI Services nomenclature is an HP or Hold for Part call. Now you have an EM + CB + HP. What is your Call Back percentage? CB/EM is still 100 percent. What is your Hold for Part percentage? HP/(CB+EM) 50 percent. The customer called one time for service, had the first call been done correctly the call back would not have happened. Based on the one EM call the technician returned 100 percent of the time to correctly fix the machine, and because the Call Back is really a customer call that failed the criteria we would define their HP rate as 50 percent. Why is this important?  It is all in the question, which can be asked two common ways:

BEI: What percentage of the time will the EM call be followed by another customer request for service within the call back criteria?

Industry:  What percentage of the total calls being done will be call backs?

Using these two questions, let us assess the differences. We have already established how BEI would calculate the call back percentage in the previous example, call backs are 100 percent and HP is 50 percent.

Using the industry question the answer is 33 percent call backs and 33 percent HP, because there are three total calls and one each of CB and HP. If you were to add a courtesy call to the total, you now would have four total calls and your CB rate would drop to 25 percent as would your HP rate. In the BEI example nothing changes. See the difference?

Third, we must define the criteria that determines when a call back occurs.

The industry tends to define a fixed number of days OR pages to each Segment class. For example, Segment 3 it’s generally 10 days or 10,000 pages, meaning the machine must run for at least 10 days without a service call OR at least 10,000 pages, whichever happens first. Where do these numbers come from? Who establishes them as correct? A benchmark is only as good as the data creating it. The more accurate the data, the more accurate the benchmark. What’s the thinking here? “All manufactures and models are created and run equally?”

BEI sets the criteria by model and establishes either a “day” or “page count” number based on national performance averages. The criteria is generally 50 percent of the machines average Mean Copies between Visits (MCBV) and Mean Time Between Visits (MTBV). Visits are used because this number includes all the reasons that a tech “visits” a customer. If a technician cannot make the call back criteria, which is only 50 percent of the average for all visits, something is really wrong.

These criteria are adjusted semi-annually to account for changes in performance as machines age or as improvements are made, for the following reason:

Let’s take Canon for example within Segment 3 class devices which consists of 15 models, the difference in MCBV (mean copies between visits) is a high of 19,390 pages and a low of 4,813 pages. The day spread, MTBV (mean time between visits) is 66 days high and 50 days low. Why? One reason is machines age and as they do failures occur more often. Feature benefits and accessories on the machine can also impact failure rates. Sometimes it is manufacturer defects that start out severe then get corrected over time. To be fair, let’s look at Ricoh as well. In Segment 3 consisting of 16 models, the spread for MCBV is a high of 20,218 pages and a low of 5,028 pages. The day spread (MTBV) is 194 days high and 69 days low. Konica Minolta for 10 Segment 3 models, the spread for MCBV is 21,630 high and 5,549 low and for MTBV 74 days high and 54 days low.

So why would you apply a threshold of 10 days when virtually every model exceeds this number by a factor of five, or assign a 10,000 page criteria when almost one third of models for these three vendors will never make that criteria and another one third will exceed it almost by twice? How would you measure a tech’s performance fairly and defensibly knowing this difference exists?

Consider this, the mix of equipment assigned to a technician’s territory is often based on geography and/or training qualifications. Therefore, if a technician had a mix of machines weighted at the low end of the MCBV scale, they could have a much higher CB rate than a technician with a weighted mix at the higher end of the MCBV scale. We have already established the day criteria as being unrealistically low. Of the 4,400 models tracked by BEI only 57 models run 10 days between visits or less. Technicians are evaluated on a variety of things, and for most companies First Call Effectiveness (FCE) is one of the big ones. Many companies provide technician bonuses or promotions in job class based on this measurement among others.

I am sure you can see the implications of using a defensible measurement for FCE, but of equal importance is technician development. BEI’s technician assessment solution allows improvement goals to be set for a variety of job performance metrics. Setting goals for improvement by segment class means in the above example the technician has to consider 15 or more models that impact their FCE rates. BEI believes the focus really needs to be at the model level. By identifying the model or models that represent the technician’s greatest opportunity for improvement, we can focus their attention to the specific models in question and thus get better results.

Finally, how does this impact profitability? As FCE improves the total number of calls being produced by your customer base goes down. This directly impacts response time first, as this number is related to total calls and manpower. The reduction in response time will improve customer satisfaction and will also allow you to grow your machine base larger without adding manpower. In some cases, FCE improvement will also allow the flexibility to reassign your lowest performing technician without impacting your response time.

The bottom line is that measuring FCE is critical and the baseline for how you measure it, how often it is updated, and how statistically valid it is should be considered equally as important. Do not use criteria that cannot be justified. Be sure you are asking the right questions, and using a method that ensures fairness and accountability, and can be backed up with actual benchmarks for machine performance.

Wes McArtor
About the Author
WES McARTOR started in the copier industry as a service technician for Savin Corporation in 1981 after serving the country in the U.S. Marine Corp. Since then he has held various positions in copier and computer industry, ranging from service technician to service manager. In 1986 he left the dealer environment to join Minolta Corporation as an Area Service Manager, and was later promoted to National Service Marketing Manager in 1992. After leaving Minolta in August of 1993, McArtor and his partner co-founded BEI Services Inc. to provide independent imaging dealers with an unbiased source for standards and nationwide comparative service reporting. In 2019 their offerings were expanded to cover sales, finance, websites and admin services, and BEI Services changed its name to NEXERA to help dealers in the next era of imaging. McArtor is one of the foremost speakers on service department performance, benchmarking and incentive programs in the nation. With numerous articles published for virtuall every publication in the imaging industry, he has set the standards for service performance measurements.