Tracking Callbacks

In some areas of the country when a customer calls you back to re-do your work it is called “warranty” work or “re-work” but here in Wisconsin we call them callbacks. Obviously, none of us want to have callbacks occur. They cost us money and customer ill-will. It takes up time that could be better spent on putting in parts that we get paid for. However, callbacks can be a benefit to your company if handled correctly.

How can callbacks be a benefit? When you track them and use that information to improve your performance.

Most customers do not want to complain. They just want their vehicle back to the way it was before you serviced it. When they find something not right, they will decide if that issue is important enough to complain about or if they will let it go. The result of that decision is whether you have an opportunity to correct the problem and re-instill confidence in your company or have the customer bad mouth your service at the next backyard barbeque. That is why you want to determine what areas are causing you callbacks so you can eliminate as many as possible.

How can you fix a problem if you don’t know it’s there?

You must track your callbacks every time a customer calls for rework. What do I mean by track? You must document and note the problem, diagnosis, and fix it on every complaint you receive. I know that this is a pain and a little time consuming, but so is a callback. How can you manage a problem if you cannot track the cause?

In my early days in this industry, I worked for a company that tracked everything, callbacks, missed jobs, even when the service vehicle was stopped and started again. As an installer, I always felt that it was overkill until I was promoted to management. Then I realized the purpose for the tracking. Simply put, it allowed a manager to identify problems, making the company better and increasing profits. Wow, what a concept. Even today when I visit companies and talk to CEOs, I find that some don’t track the most profit-destroying part of doing business, callbacks.

In the next couple of posts, I will talk more about following up on callbacks. In the meantime, I suggest you begin documenting your customer feedback. I will bet some of you will be surprised by the number of complaints you get. Here is what you need to record:

  • Customer’s name and vehicle;
  • Technician(s) name;
  • Details of complaint;
  • Details of diagnosis; and
  • Details of the fix.

Also, track the costs:

  • Time expended on travel to location (if any);
  • Time expended on the diagnosis and fix;
  • Cost of materials used;
  • Fuel costs(if any);
  • Labor rate;
  • Average revenue lost by callback time expenditure; and
  • You could also extrapolate the cost of attracting and keeping a customer (sales and advertising costs) and then subtracting that cost of a callback from the calculation to get a better sense of your profits and losses.

If you take the time to do this exercise, you will realize that tracking callbacks is one of the most important things you will do as a manager.