Field Service Metrics: How to Choose the Right Ones for Your Business
Finding the right metrics to measure the performance of your field service operations will ensure that you know how your business is tracking, and allows you to identify opportunities for improvement, in order to achieve your business goals.
But how do you know which field service metrics you should be tracking?
If you choose the wrong ones, you may miss important issues that are undermining business performance.
And if you have too few, or too many, it can prevent you from making accurate and informed decisions as part of your day-to-day business operations.
Let’s take a look at some of the best field service metrics to track in your business, and how to choose the right ones for you.
- Possible field service metrics
- How to choose the right field service metrics
- The three categories of field service KPIs
- The 12 most common field service metrics
- #1 – Mean time to complete
- #2 – Average response time
- #3 – First time fix rate (FTFR)
- #4 – Technician utilization (% billable hours)
- #5 – Customer retention
- #6 – Contract attach rate
- #7 – Uptime
- #8 – Contract or SLA compliance
- #9 – Contract & revenue leakage
- #10 – Job profitability
- #11 – Service to cash rate
- #12 – Business growth
- Planning your field service metrics
- Tracking & using your chosen field service KPIs
- Ready to choose your field service metrics?
Possible Field Service Metrics
When you begin to explore possible field service KPIs to measure, you’ll quickly find that there’s a very long list of metrics to consider, such as:
- Average response time
- Mean time to service
- Mean time to repair
- Mean time to complete
- First time fix rate
- Technician utilization
- Uptime of equipment or services
- Contract or SLA compliance
- Customer acquisition cost
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer retention
- Customer churn or attrition
- Contract or revenue leakage
- Service to cash time
- Job profitability
- Contract attach rate
- Cost per call
- Billable hours
- Overtime hours
- Reschedule rate
- Employee retention
- Technician productivity
- Growth rate
- Repeat visits
And the list goes on.
There’s good reason for this complexity in field service metrics, because running a field service operation is a complex task, with many moving parts that interact with and affect each other.
And while many or all of these KPIs could be helpful in measuring your field service performance, what you really want to know is which ones are going to give you the best information and impact your business the most?
How to Choose the Right Field Service Metrics
When you sit down to decide on the metrics that you’re going to track in your field service business, there’s a few things to keep in mind that will help you stay focused.
1. Do they match your business goals?
The best way to ensure that your field metrics are working hard for you is to match them up directly to your business goals.
If you don’t know how whether your operations are supporting your goals, how can you possibly know if – or what – you need to improve? Choose metrics that speak directly to what you want to achieve in your business, in the short and long-term.
And equally, there’s not much point tracking “vanity” metrics that are nice to know, but don’t tie directly to your goals. Tracking any KPI takes time and effort and unnecessary or unimportant metrics can also be a distraction from the measures that actually matter.
2. Is it actionable?
Make sure that your field service KPIs measure things that you can do something about. You want relevant information that you can then use to make decisions and improve the way you do business.
Stay away from “hollow” metrics that might give you a picture of how you’re doing, but that you don’t have the power to change.
For example, tracking the “delays due to weather” might tell you about the impact of the weather on your productivity, but it’s not directly tied to something you can change.
3. Do you have access to the data?
You also want to make sure that any metric you’d like to track is something you can readily access the data for, and that’s it’s quantifiable, in some form.
You might like to know how satisfied your customers are, but if you don’t have some way of asking them about this, and capturing their responses, then it’s going to be tricky to track this KPI.
You may need to review your field service software to ensure that it can provide you with the metrics you need.
The Three Categories of Field Service KPIs
The most common field service metrics tend to fall into one of three main categories, which can help you decide on your KPIs, but also ensure that you have all the bases covered.
For example, there’s no point maxing out your customer satisfaction KPIs, if your business is losing money, and you’re not tracking the metrics to show it, because you’ll still eventually go out of business.
Ideally, aim to track at least one field service metric in each category.
1. Service Efficiency
The efficiency of the services being provided in the field is often one of the first things that people think about when evaluating field service operations.
Thing like, how quickly are we responding to jobs, how fast can we fix things, how busy are our technicians, or even how much of the time are things running correctly?
These types of metrics are a fundamental measure of the quality of our field services and are definitely important to include.
2. Customer Satisfaction
Equally important in measuring how well we’re performing our services, is customer satisfaction.
This one can sometimes be harder to assess, requiring qualitative measures of “happiness”, but can also include things like how long we keep our customers, how often we meet service level agreements (SLAs) or even upsell rates.
Happy customers lead to a resilient, healthy business, and so it’s just as important to know how we’re doing on this front.
3. Business Performance
At the end of the day, we’re running a business, so it’s also essential to include measures of business performance in our field service KPIs.
Regardless of why our business exists, for it to continue to exist, we need to make sure that it’s performing well and can continue to do so well into the future.
Whether that’s how much it costs to land a new customer, making sure we’re invoicing for everything we should be, getting invoices paid quickly or knowing how profitable each field service jobs is, these measures help us keep the business moving in the right direction.
The 12 Most Common Field Service Metrics
The best field service metrics to track in your business depend heavily on the nature of your business, the environment or industry you’re operating in and your business goals.
That said, here’s twelve of the most commonly used field service metrics to give you a starting point for developing your own unique collection of KPIs.
#1 – Mean time to complete
How long does it take to complete each job?
Mean time to complete (MTTC) represents to the total amount of time that elapses between the time an issue arises until it is marked off as completed.
It incorporates scheduling efficiency, repair time (MTTR) and billing, and measures the end to end efficiency of your entire service processes.
Job completion can be adversely impacted by any aspect of your business that is not working well, whether that’s job scheduling, technician productivity or invoicing.
Increases in the time taken for any of these steps means that not only are things happening inefficiently, but the quality of customer service decreases, leading to unhappy customers.
To improve the mean time to complete jobs means tightening up on almost all time-based performance metrics across business services, including:
- Speed of job scheduling and dispatch
- Technician response times
- Speed of diagnosis and first-time fix rates
- Speed of issuing invoices
Keeping track of this high-level measure of business efficiency helps to keep service performance and customer satisfaction high, and may help your business to complete more jobs each day.
#2 – Average response time
How quickly does your field service team respond to emergency or break-fix calls?
Average response time is a measure of the time that elapses between the initial call or detection of the issue, and when the technician arrives on site to fix the problem. It may also be known as mean time to service or MTTS.
A poor response time can be a result of inefficient scheduling, too much work for the available staff or low technician productivity.
When response times are long, it means that customers are having to wait longer to have their issue fixed, and so are potentially spending more time being inconvenienced or unproductive, especially the asset is critical to operations.
This may negatively impact uptimes, SLAs and overall customer satisfaction.
To improve average response times, it’s important to focus on:
- Fast and flexible scheduling that assigns the closest or fastest available technician to jobs
- Minimizing travel, idle or unproductive time for technicians
- Streamlining processes so that technicians can complete more work per day
- Considering hiring more staff, if there simply aren’t enough technicians to cover it all
By keep average response time as low as possible, customers are kept happier, schedulers and technicians can be more productive.
#3 – First time fix rate (FTFR)
How often do your technicians fix a problem on the first visit?
First time fix rate (or FTFR) measures the percentage of jobs that are fully resolved on the first visit by a field service technician.
In many situations, technicians are unable to fix the problem on the first visit because of an incorrect or incomplete diagnosis, a lack of parts, missing essential skills, or poor communication and scheduling.
What this means, is that a second – or in some cases third or fourth – follow-up visit must be organised before the issue is fully resolved.
Each subsequent call out adds up in cost, the customer must wait longer for a fix, and technicians are less productive overall.
To achieve best-in-class first time fix rates of 85% or higher, companies focus on:
- Diagnosing problems accurately as early as possible, with real-time access to additional support as required
- Ensuring that technicians have ready access to all required parts, and that inventory levels can be managed in real-time
- Allocating jobs to the right technician with the right skills and inventory, at the right time
When first-time fix rate increases, customer satisfaction jumps up, and technicians can make more effective use of their available time and resolve more jobs.
#4 – Technician utilization (% billable hours)
What proportion of the day are technicians engaged in active service work?
Technician utilization is a measure of the percentage of their working hours that a technician spends engaged in service work for a client, versus “idle” non-client time.
The percentage of billable hours goes down when technicians spend more time:
- Travelling between jobs (including getting stuck in traffic)
- Returning to the warehouse to restock their vans
- Completing paperwork
- Sorting out unclear or inaccurate information
- Returning to site to complete unfinished jobs
- Running late for jobs
A lower utilization rate means that technicians are spending more of their day on non-revenue generating tasks, which reduces overall business profitability, and may mean that you need more staff to complete all the available work.
To improve technician utilization, field service businesses focus on:
- Scheduling jobs to minimize travel and time delays between jobs
- Ensuring that technicians have all required parts in the trucks each day
- Streamlining and minimizing data entry and double-handling of information
- Ensuring clear and consistent real-time communication between all parties
- Increasing their first-time fix rate
Improving technician utilization directly impacts both productivity and profitability and can help businesses get more done with fewer staff.
#5 – Customer retention
What percentage of customers remain with your business ongoing?
Customer retention measures the proportion of customers that you retain on an ongoing basis and is the other half of customer churn – the percentage of customers that you lose over time.
Retention goes down primarily when customers are unhappy with your products or services – in other words, when your customer satisfaction is too low.
It can be impacted by any decrease in quality of service, including the metrics listed above, and means that your customers are unhappy, which is not good for business.
Losing customers means that your business does not grow as quickly and you must spend more to grow your customer base.
Customer retention can be improved by focusing on customer satisfaction with your services, in areas such as:
- Customer support
- Response times
- Technician expertise
- Speed of fixes
- Technician rapport
- Contact points with your business
and will depend on what is most important to your customers.
Acquiring new customers is expensive, so keeping your retention rates high means that your business can earn more from your existing customers and spend less on acquiring customers, through the invaluable referrals and strong reputation that you derive from happy, satisfied customers.
#6 – Contract attach rate
How often are you upselling your customers with ongoing service contracts?
Contract attach rate is a measure of the percentage or rate at which you are selling service contracts to customers, usually at the initial purchase point for equipment, but also at any time during one-off service interactions.
This may be a result of poor training or low motivation for your sales team or service technicians, or from turning up to customer interactions unprepared to sell additional services.
It may also be because your ongoing maintenance offerings do not address your customer’s main concerns.
A low rate of contract attachment may mean that your customers are not seeing the value of your maintenance plans or do not trust your company enough to engage them for the long term.
Failing to sign a customer up for an ongoing service contracts means missing out on a lot of potential business revenue and the predictability that brings to your business.
To increase your contract attach rate:
- Provide plenty of supporting sales materials & training to staff
- Create incentives for technicians to upsell customers
- Ensure that technicians have the skills to build trust and rapport with customers
- Review your service contracts to make them more attractive to customers
By maximizing your contract attach rate, you’re ensuring a regular supply of work for your technicians and income for your business, and also reducing the need to constantly chase after new work.
#7 – Uptime
What percentage of the time are your customer’s systems working correctly?
Uptime is a measure of how much of the time the customer’s systems and equipment are in use and functioning as expected, versus unplanned downtime from unexpected failures.
Uptime decreases when equipment fails more often that it should, or when issues are not fixed as quickly as they could be.
It can be impacted by many of the service quality measures, such as response time, first-time fix rate and mean time to repair (MTTR).
It may also happen because the customer is not currently utilizing an appropriate preventive maintenance program.
Having a lower than normal uptime value means that the customer is spending more time than usual with their equipment offline. It also may mean that your technicians are doing lots of repairs under a standard fixed contract fee, instead of billable jobs that generate additional revenue.
Given that you are engaged with the prime responsibility of keeping their equipment and systems up and running, any downtime appears to the customer that you are not providing value, so keeping uptime high leads directly into customer satisfaction and thus retention.
To improve uptime, the best field service businesses focus on:
- Sending technicians with the right skills and parts as promptly as possible when issues arise
- Collecting and analyzing data on assets to track issues and inform maintenance schedules
- Implementing and tweaking programmed maintenance programs to minimize downtime
- Reviewing installation procedures and hardware suppliers to ensure maximum reliability
By ensuring that your uptime stays high, you maximize customer satisfaction and retention, along with contract profitability.
#8 – Contract or SLA compliance
What percentage of the time are your services delivered in line with the customer SLA?
SLA compliance measures how much of the time you’re living up to the level of service agree to in your service contract.
Although different businesses will need different SLA metrics, including the ones outlined above, in all cases your customer wants to ensure that you provide them with services to an acceptable standard.
SLA compliance may be adversely affected by:
- Slow response times
- Poor fix rates
- Long times to completion
- Missed scheduled services
Failing to meet your SLAs may lead to penalties for your business, depending on what was agreed to in the contract, and will certainly decrease customer satisfaction and retention.
To improve compliance with your SLAs or contract terms:
- Ensure you can easily and accurately track deadlines and resolution times
- Trigger preventive maintenance programs and reminders automatically
- Monitor asset repair history and watch for patterns or trends
Achieving SLA compliance rates of 90% or above is worth aiming for, and will keep customers happy and confident that they are receiving value from their service arrangement with you.
#9 – Contract & revenue leakage
How often are technicians performing work for free?
Contract leakage measures those times when a customer wants work done that they believe is covered by a contract, that is not actually covered, but the technician does for them anyway, and the customer is not charged for it.
This generally happens when there is confusion or a lack of information on the part of the customer and the technician as to what exactly is covered by the service contract, including things like:
- When the coverage period ends
- What parts and consumable are included and which are not
- Which services are included under the contract
- Whether customers qualify for discounts
When this happens, it means that technicians are giving away work for free, in order to avoid conflict with the customer when they’re on site, and your business loses revenue.
Customers may also become frustrated when there are misunderstandings around what their contract covered and such friction can also negatively affect employee morale.
To avoid contract leakage, ensure that you provide schedulers and technicians with clear, up-to-date and accurate information on what is billable and what is not billable for each customer.
This will avoid unpleasant surprises for customers and means that you’ll stop giving your services away, increasing customer satisfaction and business income.
#10 – Job profitability
How much money is each job making you?
Job profitability is an important measure of the contribution of each job to the bottom line of your business, and whether they’re making you money or losing it!
- Profitability may decrease when:
- Issues are not fixed correctly or the first time
- Technicians must return to a site multiple times with the correct parts
- Small expenses start adding up e.g. fuel costs, payment gateways
- SLAs are not met, leading to penalties
- Technicians fail to bill for billable work
- Upsell opportunities are missed
Lower profitability on jobs means that your business is not making as much money overall and may even lead to certain types jobs or specific customers that are losing you money.
If you’re not tracking profitability, you won’t know which jobs or customers are hurting your bottom line, or what you can do to improve the overall profitability of your business.
To improve job profitability, you need to:
- Track all expenses associated with each job, no matter how small
- Accurately track and invoice for billable and non-billable work
- Minimize the amount of time spent travelling to site and fixing jobs correctly
- Ensure that SLAs are closely tracked and met as much as possible
- Train and equip staff to capture upsell opportunities
Maximising job profitability can add up in small ways to make a big impact on the revenue and earnings for your business, ensuring that your business remains sustainable and resilient.
#11 – Service to cash rate
How quickly is a completed job turned into cash in the bank?
Service to cash rate is a measure of the time it takes for a customer to pay for a service, from the time it was completed by the service technician.
The rate at which you are paid is most often affected by your invoicing process, which includes:
- The technician recording any additional job details e.g. labor, parts
- The technician noting the job as complete
- Entering the service details into the invoicing system
- Raising and sending the invoice to the customer
It can also be impacted by invoice terms and your follow up process for overdue payments.
Having cash tied up simply because customers have not yet been invoiced or paid their invoices means that your business has less working capital for day-to-day operations.
If there are big enough issues in these processes, it may also lead to some customers never being invoiced for work done.
Improving your service to cash rate may involve:
- Ensuring that your technicians are clear on billable work and rates
- Getting technicians to enter job details in real-time
- Capturing customer approval for work completed in the field
- Automating work order and billing processes
- Ensuring that overdue invoices are followed up rigorously
When you have shortened your service to cash duration as much as you can, you can be sure that you’re operating efficiently and have a steady stream of cash coming into your business to keep things running smoothly.
#12 – Business growth
How quickly is your business acquiring customers and/or increasing in revenue?
Business growth is a measure of the rate at which your business is growing, whether that’s an increase in the number of customers or total business revenue, to help you see where your business is headed.
Business growth can be negatively impacted by:
- Low customer satisfaction
- Low service quality
- Poor billing practices
Measuring business growth gives you a high-level way to see whether all the different parts of your business are coming together to create a successful, resilient business.
Improving business growth essentially means looking at all the different parts of your business, using metrics like the ones listed above, to identify which parts are working well, and where things can be improved.
By focusing on delivering the best possible quality services to your customers, and maximising customer satisfaction, you’re ensuring that your business has a bright, sustainable future.
Tracking business growth ensures that all of your hard work is paying off in the form of a business that is healthy and growing stronger every day.
Planning Your Field Service Metrics
You don’t need to use all or even any of the above metrics, but it’s a place to begin when choosing the right field service metrics for your business.
There are many more metrics that you might want to use that are not detailed above – such as employee retention, safety metrics or broader business financials – and they all need to be relevant, actionable and accessible.
For larger and more complex businesses, you may want to develop different KPIs at different levels of the business, depending on the level of granularity required.
For example, the executive team might track higher levels metrics than the dispatch team but planning them out as part of an overall field service measurement plan will keep them all meaningful.
You also need to remember that different field service metrics can be defined or measured in different ways, so be sure to create clear definitions of what each metric is, and how is it to be tracked, so that you can have confidence in the relevance and accuracy of the numbers.
Keep in mind that the best field service metrics to track may change over time, as your business grows and evolves, so it’s good to revisit your metrics every so often to make sure they still meet the above criteria.
Tracking & Using Your Chosen Field Service KPIs
Once you’ve chosen your field service metrics, then there are three things you’ll need to do to begin tracking and using them to improve your business.
1. Capture the data
You’ll need to set up the systems in your business to record and calculate your chosen metrics.
This may require investing in a new field service management software platform, or expanding the capabilities of your current one to ensure that the necessary data points can be captured in the field and stored in your business information system.
2. Report on the metrics
It’s not enough to simply capture the data and calculate the metrics.
You’ll also need a way to analyse the data and report on your field service KPIs on a regular basis.
For this to be timely and accurate, it’s best to choose a system that has real-time integration with the rest of your business data, so you can quickly and easily see how you’re performing.
3. Tweak operations
Of course, the whole purpose of tracking your chosen field service metrics is to grow and improve your business.
As you start to capture and report on your KPIs, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions about which aspects of your business need improvement, and how to go about it.
Use your KPIs to improve people, processes and technology and you’ll steer your business in the right direction.
Ready to Choose Your Field Service Metrics?
Choosing the right field service metrics for your business will set you up for success and prepare you for future challenges.
You’ll know for sure that you’re delivering the level of service to your customers that they expect, and that your business is on track to achieve its goals.
Talk to us today about how NextService can help your business capture, report on and improve your most important field service metrics in real-time.