If we break callbacks into four categories: human error; manufacturer defects; lack of training; and inadequate operations, it will be much easier to identify a rationale to track them.
We are all human and prone to make some mistakes and even the best manufacturers have some defective products that find their way to the wholesaler’s shelf. Training is one of the best areas to maximize your efforts as it improves technician confidence, which customers will immediately notice when speaking to them. A company-wide training culture also creates validation that a tech fully understands the product “before” being asked to service or install products. Operations afford owners and managers to be transparent with their techs when an event occurs and how to prevent them from moving forward.
Using technology can help mitigate callbacks by bringing consistent operations to top of mind.
Unless the mistake is repetitive, or constantly not following company operations, human error is a hard one to have a resolution for. Good coaching, knowing and interacting with your techs and being transparent with techs is one of the best procedures to help with human error.
Look at the data and see if there is a pattern. Perhaps something is happening with that senior tech outside of work that is causing the errors at work. Tracking the errors by the tech and job type is a best practice to reduce them.
Contractors attempting to get paid for a manufacturer defect is challenging. We all know most times if a product fails under the warranty period, the manufacturer will replace the part, but not pay for any of the labor. Even on a DOA (dead on arrival) issue, this policy stays true.
However, there are exceptions. The key takeaway for handling defective products is to track them. Tracking them gives you the availability to see trends and make adjustments to the product or manufacturer.
It’s also worth noting to differentiate between the product and the tech doing the work. Specifically, make sure it is, in fact, the product, and not an installation or service procedure the tech is not doing correctly.
Once you track how many manufacturing defects you see in the course of the year, then calculate and make it a line item in your pricing structure as a cost of doing business. Yes, this is a normal expense item that is a cost to run a business. Large corporations operate this way as they know there will be mistakes and contracting is no different.
Constantly monitoring and adjusting your operations can play a role in reducing callbacks. There are numerous CRMs that help automate tracking the data to adjust. Data like trends in a job type, what products were used, which tech did the work, and the amount of time the tech was on the call.
Automation also helps to mitigate confusion among the customer, dispatcher and the original call. Defining and adjusting operations that affect callback mitigation is key to reducing them company-wide. Be completely transparent with company procedures between the techs and their managers as to what happens when there is a callback.
Teachable and trainable moments on an individual and company-wide basis can be produced through callbacks. Decide if there is one tech or several techs on a given call type having callbacks.
If it’s several techs on the same callback, bring them together and reinforce the training on the hows and whys and, just as importantly, track the outputs of the training efforts. Make the adjustments from the group to individualized training accordingly, if the callbacks persist to happen with one tech.
If the callback is from an individual and it’s identified as a training issue, assign or implement the training and as an interim, use your CRM to prevent that tech from doing that call type until it is confirmed the tech thoroughly understands the original mistakes made.
Providing, implementing and tracking training for your techs is one guaranteed way to mitigate technical and operational mistakes that lead to callbacks. In the fast-paced business environment, numerous contractors don’t value training or implementation of training at the level it should be.
There are other, less expensive options available to contractors to use a training tool instead of traditional bricks-and-mortar training models. Digital and virtual reality software is available at one-third the price per technician. This training can be done asynchronously and not affect workflows and scheduling. All of the metrics are available to track the progress of a technician’s performance against the training assigned to a technician and help with callback mitigation.
There you have it. Implement and or refine your tactics for these four categories in your business, and you will start to reduce some of your callbacks. It should be noted, one of the impacts of a callback not mentioned in this writing is the financial impact and opportunity costs of a callback on the company’s bottom line. Look for a breakdown and explanation of that in future articles. Happy Contracting!
Ken Midgett, has been in the plumbing and heating industry for over four decades. He has owned two successful PHC businesses, is a licensed master plumber, a two-time national award-winning educator for plumbing and heating CTE classrooms, with a 100 percent placement into the industry for all eligible seniors from his program. He is currently plumbing market director, Interplay Learning. You can follow Ken at www.linkedin.com/in/kenmidgett.