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Missed repair appointments: The cost and cause

Missed appointments have always been frustrating, but they don’t just cause stress for customers and mobile operatives — they also add to the service backlog and increase costs for facility managers.

Women looking at phone at missed repair appointment

Even a few years after the onset of the pandemic, slowdowns continue to beleaguer nearly every industry, including facility management.

Facility managers (FMs) are dealing with a backlog of repairs and service appointments, and to get back to baseline (and, eventually, ahead), completing jobs on time is crucial. Improving first-time fix rates and decreasing no-access appointments is even more critical to getting back on track.

Missed appointments have always been frustrating, but they don’t just cause stress for customers and mobile operatives — they also add to the service backlog and increase costs for FMs. 

To get a better understanding of the impact of missed appointments and to gain insight into preventative measures, Localz conducted an exclusive survey with Facilities Management Journal. We asked approximately 100 providers, ranging from in-house FMs to independent consultants and everyone in between, to share their experiences with repairs and service appointments.

 

The reality of missed appointments

Although any FM worth their salt would agree it’s important to work through a backlog of repairs, almost a quarter of respondents report that 10-25% of their appointments are missed. More than half (56%) of respondents manage more than 10 facilities/properties — and across that many sites, backlogs can add up quickly.

Why are customers missing appointments? There are numerous reasons, but communication gaps are chief among them.

According to our survey, most missed appointments boil down to customers not being home or not being aware the appointment was happening (31%), and human error (33%). Meanwhile, only 9% of missed appointments are the result of operatives not having the right tools.

Of course, many of these factors are avoidable with proper communication. We asked respondents what communication options they offer once customers book a service appointment.

The survey found:

  • 42% of customers can receive text reminders about their appointment.
  • 32% can get location updates and ETAs for their operative.
  • 31% can reschedule appointments online.
  • 28% can request appointments online.

The impact of missed appointments

Lack of communication between FMs and customers comes with a high impact. 

Missed appointments are shown to lead to lower customer satisfaction, lower customer lifetime value (CLV), and poor reviews. On the operations side, missed appointments often result in frustrated staff, lower efficiency, and higher turnover.

If those consequences weren’t enough, there’s also profit loss. While nearly half of respondents report that each missed appointment costs them £50 or less, not everyone is so lucky — about 20% say they cost £76-100, and 22% say they cost £100 or more.

Let’s break that down: Even if you serve only 500 appointments per month, if you’re missing even 10% of them, and they cost between £50 and £100 each, you’re spending an additional £2,500 to £5,000 per month. 

That’s £30,000 to £60,000 per year in losses from missed appointments.

 

How proactive communication reduces missed appointments

Proactive communication can address many of the root issues of missed appointments. There are a number of ways to better your rapport with customers.

  • Send reminder texts. Customers tend to pay more attention to texts than emails, and SMS is a simple way to ensure customers are aware of their appointment time and can plan to be home.

  • Provide location tracking and accurate ETAs. Few people have time to wait around all day for an operative to arrive during a vague four-hour window. In fact, research from Localz shows that 71% of people feel physical and emotional disturbance around scheduled appointments (and 7% are even afraid to use the toilet due to the anxiety of waiting!). Offering smaller and more accurate ETA windows along with operative location tracking gives customers the freedom to go about their day. 

  • Use online portals. Customers want flexibility, transparency, and direct communication, so give them the option to request and reschedule appointments online at their convenience. This will decrease no-access rates while improving first-time fix rates.

  • Lean into automation. Operatives shouldn’t have to send manual location updates. Use geolocation to trigger reminders and ETA updates, or set up texts that send automatically before an appointment.

FMJ-Localz_Survey_Results_2022

 

Communication is king

Proactive customer communication can have a fundamental impact on the efficiency of your team and operations, and in turn, it can improve customer and operative retention.

Just because you have a few customer communication tools in place doesn’t mean you’re prepared. Fortunately, getting up to speed doesn’t need to be costly or difficult. Offering customers better communication options can reduce no-access appointments, increase first-time fix rates, and result in better customer satisfaction.

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