Log in

ISM Article

Callbacks: The Worst Enemy of a Service Department

9 Oct, 2001 By: Jim Intravia imageSource

Callbacks: The Worst Enemy of a Service Department

is very hard to measure a technician's performance. I have seen companies that
felt a technician was doing a good job if he was doing 8-10 service calls per
day. Usually, these companies paid little attention to their service departments
and did not know the difference between a service call and a call back. I have
always felt that a typical technician's day should consist of about five service
calls. Considering travel time and other non-productive events, this winds up to
be about 45 minutes to an hour per machine, on average. This is not a rule,
merely a guideline. It applies to service calls not deliveries and major PMs. I
recall one company where technicians rarely did more than four calls in a day.
Each service call averaged about 2 hours because the machines were so complex
and had workloads of 150K per month or so.


technicians are not necessarily good technicians. However, an experienced tech
can usually make people think he is good. I'm not bashing technicians here, just
making a point about the ones who don not give their employer their money's


Is A Callback

callback is when a customer calls back to say the machine is doing the same
thing, or that the tech was just recently here and now it is doing such and
such. Many of these types of calls are technician error, not all, by any means.
In my opinion, if a tech does a job on a machine and the exposure lamp fails the
next day, it is highly unlikely that he can be blamed for it. Not much more
likely, than if, you walk into a room and flip on the light switch and the bulb
fails, but maybe a little likely (just a little). During the service call, did
the tech inspect the exposure lamp? If the lamp was in poor condition, (burnt
rings in it) did he note or mention that? He did not cause the lamp to fail, but
there is a slight chance that he just
might have had the opportunity to warn the customer and to prevent a service
call. However, that is an example of a mostly non-preventable call back. The
customer may still think it is the technician's fault. Another example: 
Initial call is black copies; burnt out exposure lamp. Tech replaces
lamp. The customer calls the next day to say that they have poor copies, and
they are not feeding through the bypass. To me, this probably is a technician
callback. If the copies are poor the day after the lamp replacement, they were
probably poor immediately after. The bypass probably did not work when the tech
was there. He didn’t break it, but he probably didn’t test it either. It is
part of a technician's job to test and diagnose the complete machine. The
technician who takes his or her time and does 5 good service calls a day is far
more useful than the one who rushes through 10. Those 10 will probably result in
2-3 relatively quick callbacks and a limitless quantity of other service calls
that should not have occurred as soon.


Many Callbacks Are Too Many

feel that an average technician is doing the job satisfactorily if he gets about
5% callbacks. Average, not good or excellent. Excellent is somewhere around
1-3%. To put it another way, a technician who is 90% successful (10% callbacks)
is probably a very bad technician. How do we measure callbacks? That can be
quite difficult, as shown in the previous examples. If the service manager makes
a decision as to what a callback is (lets just say any machine that calls for
the same or similar problem, or a clearly preventable problem within one week)
it becomes fairly easy to quantify. If we use such a system, it becomes easy to
measure, quantify, and rate technician's callback performance.



  • 90%: 
    One out of every 10 service calls is a call back. That doesn’t
    sound so bad, but think about it this way. The tech does five calls per day.
    Every other day he gets a call back. That call back is one of his five calls
    for the next day. He winds up with about 2.5 wasted service calls per week.
    In addition to the wasted service calls, there is the wasted time traveling,
    extra paperwork, etc. Moreover, of course, we have an exceedingly unhappy
    customer. Whether chargeable, contract or warranty, they feel that the
    technician and/or Service Company did not do a good job. If chargeable, the
    likelihood of being able to charge for anything other than parts is near

  • 95%:
    One out of every 20 service calls. 5 calls a day X 5 days a week X 4 weeks
    per month = 100 service calls a month. Five percent is 5 callbacks, which
    means really only 95 service calls per month, and at least one callback per
    week (not excessive, but nothing to brag about). We all make mistakes, but a
    complete waste of a service call a week is a rather substantial waste of
    resources (customer's and dealers).

  • 98%:
    One hundred service calls a month. Every two weeks or so, there is a
    callback. Even that seems like a lot when you look at it on paper. However,
    that is the way the world works. There are mistakes. There are oversights.
    There are errors in judgment. There is Murphy's Law. There are calculated
    risks that sometimes come out wrong. There is sometimes guesswork. There are
    erasers on pencils, backspace key on computers and bumpers on cars.

  • 100%:
    Nonsense. Nobody in this business does not have a callback. They may think
    they don’t, or rationalize and explain them away.

To Avoid Callbacks

single best weapon against callbacks is to be conscientious and thorough. These
are necessary skills for a technician. In most cases, they have to do with an
individual's character, rather than with technical ability. However, it is not
reasonable to expect every technician in the world to know exactly what is
required on every service call. What is obvious to one may not be so obvious to
someone else.


month, we will go into the procedures necessary to avoid and minimize the
likelihood of callbacks.

WebinarCase Studies and White PapersSand Exchange Blog

imageSource Magazine Quick Links
Upcoming Events
ITEX Expo & Conference
©2015 Questex, LLC. All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited
Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster