Service Response Time Guarantees Don’t Matter
Take a look at websites and collateral material for technology companies and you'll find most tout guaranteed service response times. The typical is 2 to 4 hours for major malfunctions, 4 to 24 hours for minor, with the terms ‘response,’ ‘major,’ and ‘minor' determined by the provider.Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, it depends. Remember, response times have nothing to do with ‘fix’ times, A technician arriving three hours and 55 minutes after a major problem has been reported, then taking the remainder of the day to resolve it, does not a happy customer make. And something defined as minor by a provider could be major to a customer. Ask a retailer. All it takes is the fraction of a system down being connected to a terminal at a single point of sale due to an Internet outage. Lost revenue and the negative image projected to just one customer makes it major enough.
You see, to a customer, fix times for ANY problem are all that matter. So, who’s up for guaranteeing fix times? Anyone? Hello? Didn’t think so…What’s the fix? First, quit touting response times and start touting fix times. Customers would far rather hear about how quickly you resolve problems, protect their revenue, image and productivity, than how quickly you responded.
You’ll find this interesting. Look at your company’s own service records. On average, how quickly do you resolve problems? Even though you may not formally track your performance, surely you have a record of what time service requests we're made, when a technician was dispatched, when they arrived and how long they were on a customer site. Interestingly enough, when tracked, most companies find their average fix times are shorter than their guaranteed response times. Want to do something different? Every month, post your previous months average fix times on your website. It will get a lot more attention than your guaranteed response times.
Second, in every situation possible, add products to your portfolio that either report malfunctions to you before the customer does AND can be trouble-shot and/or fixed remotely, and/or provide systems that failover to a Internet back-up while automatically reporting the primary failure. Both will significantly reduce the negative impact on your customer while driving the fix time you report on your website ever downward.
In the end, no one will care about your guaranteed responses time or whether you believed the malfunction was major or minor. The goal is to get fix times for ALL problems as close to zero as possible.