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Mon 10 Aug 2009 04:00 AM

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Are you under pressure?

Do you headline repeat call reporting? How do you ensure your team's solving problems rather than dealing with symptoms? Imdaad's Alan Millin asks the questions.

One of your customers gets home from work after a long, hard day at the office and heads for a soothing, refreshing shower. He is enjoying the relaxing shower when suddenly the water pressure drops and his shower is over. There is a dribble of water coming from the tap but there is not enough pressure to maintain the shower, so he finishes bathing and gets straight on the phone to his FM help desk.

At the help desk you receive a call from a customer who complains about low water pressure. You note the details, pass the call to the maintenance team who send a plumber to the customer.

Pumps and checks

The plumber checks the building's pumps and finds that the booster pump has tripped so he resets it. Next he goes to the customer and tells him that he has fixed the problem and offers his completed worksheet for signature. The customer checks the water supply and finds it is back to normal and signs the plumber's papers. The plumber goes back to his supervisor and submits the completed ticket and the supervisor closes the job.

As the facilities manager you are very happy; your team responded inside the time stipulated in your contract, the plumber fixed the problem immediately and your customer has signed off on the job. Everyone is happy, until...

Fifteen minutes after the plumber leaves the customer's building the booster pump trips again and the water pressure falls. The customer calls again but the original work ticket is closed. What do you do, re-open the old ticket or create a new one? Remember your performance will be measured against your service level agreement. If your performance is measured on response time you fulfilled the requirements for the original ticket, and can do the same for a new call. If completing the repair work is a metric you can also meet this requirement.

You send the plumber back to the customer. The plumber resets the pump, gets the customer to sign the work ticket again and life goes on.

Tripping out

Shortly after the plumber leaves the customer however, the booster pump trips again. The customer is now angry when he calls. He tells the help desk agent that you have already sent a plumber twice to the same problem and that he is simply resetting the pump power supply and not finding the underlying cause of the pump trips.

You send only the plumber again but note how things have changed, the customer is now telling you to perform root cause analysis, or to put it another way, telling you how to do your job!

The plumber goes through the same routine, but the customer asks him why the pump tripped and demands to know whether the root cause has been identified and resolved before he signs another work ticket as completed.

The plumber happily tells the customer that it's not his problem as the fault is electrical. The customer calls the help desk again and demands that you send a plumber and an electrician together.

You send an electrician on his own as the plumber is busy resetting pumps elsewhere. The electrician decides that the pump is tripping because of factors on the water side and asks the customer to sign his ticket as complete as the problem needs a plumber. The customer refuses, calls the help desk again and demands that both an electrician and a plumber attend the problem together.

Treated like an idiot

Finally you get both tradesmen to the job together and they proudly tell the customer that the problem is really with the master developer for specifying the wrong equipment, not them. The customer calls the help desk again, only to be told by the agent that as no-one else has complained the problem must be in the apartment and is therefore outside the FM provider's scope.

The customer, totally fed up with being treated like an idiot, demands that the matter be escalated immediately.

You send your team again and finally, after more than one week of frequent calls from an irate customer you solve the problem.

Now back to the reporting side of things.

At the end of the month you report to your client. You present a wealth of statistical data, calls received, percentage of calls you responded to within the required timeframe, percentage of jobs completed etc. You're looking really good.

Tickets closed

All your tickets are now closed. Your response time to each call was within the contractual requirements. You have successfully completed your jobs and met that KPI too.

How does your client find out that you (remember that you are responsible for your team...) failed to carry out root cause analysis and attended repeated calls to the same problem? It's a good bet that the customer will let your client know in no uncertain terms, but does your reporting reflect the real situation?

Do you include details of root cause analysis in your reports? Do you headline your repeat call reporting?

How do you ensure that your team is actually solving problems rather than just dealing with symptoms?

Are repeat calls flagged as such and immediately brought to your attention? Is your service level deteriorating without you noticing..?

Alan Millin is the director of consultancy at Imdaad.

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