First Call Resolution (FCR) dramatically affects every part of a business. Companies that resolve customer issues on the first contact can drastically improve their retention rates and, therefore, their profitability. Starting with a thorough call center efficiency assessment, businesses can build a culture that emphasizes prompt and accurate customer service.
Regardless of whether customers call to ask for information or complain, they expect to get what they need without requiring a series of return calls. Even when companies commit themselves to call center process improvement, they still have some issues that require multiple contacts to resolve. Still, through the use of call center solutions, training and other tools, companies can make measurable FCR gains.
How FCR Affects the Call Center
FCR measures the percentage of customer calls that do not require a transfer to another agent, escalation to a higher level of expertise or a return call. FCR measurements are important to businesses because they impact their rate of customer satisfaction and retention. Customers become impatient and tense as soon as they find out that the agent with whom they speak cannot address their concerns. Such negative emotions can lead to negative remarks left for a firm on social media and a search for alternative brands, suppliers or service providers.
Although high FCR rates directly affect the customer experience, they also indirectly affect profitability by increasing the cost of call center operations. More time spent on the phone, more people involved in each call and more callbacks reduces the efficiency of a contact center. Additionally, human resources suffer as agents become aggravated, frustrated and exhausted by handling customer issues that seemingly never get resolved.
The implications of FCR statistics extend beyond the call center because they indicate problems with the way other departments interact and policies that curtail internal efficiencies and communications. Companies that desire the benefits of high FCR rates often must evaluate all of their internal systems, including those that govern the contact center.
FCR and Call Center Improvements
After learning about FCR, many businesses want to improve it for their call center. At the same time, however, those companies have yet to learn how to do the job. The following tips can help both call center agents and managers achieve high rates of satisfaction for customers and the employees that service them.
Providing Motivation and Feedback
Educated call center teams understand why FCR is vital to their success and that of their company. Businesses must, therefore, make education part of their training strategy. Knowledgeable, competent agents will have the necessary intrinsic motivation to resolve customer issues on the first contact.
Internal competition and collaboration can also support FCR gains. Companies should encourage agents to share their experiences, so they can learn which tactics facilitate FCR and which do not. Also, managers and supervisors can encourage performance gains by providing small incentives such as certificates, public recognition and financial bonuses.
Encouraging interdepartmental cooperation and communication can also boost FCR. The free flow of information around the firm can also boost other important business metrics. Companies with call centers should also encourage feedback by creating an open and accepting environment where employees can freely share their opinions and experiences.
Improving Agent’s Skills
Motivation is not the only reason for training call center agents. Technology and tactics continually evolve, so agents can often have access to features of which they are either unaware or unable to use. Periodic training sessions can keep employees aware of the importance of FCR and help them to make optimal use of the features available with their call center solutions.
Companies should also train their agents in the art of active listening. Simple attentiveness can help agents accurately identify and quickly resolve problems that might have otherwise required several transfers and returned calls. Multitasking seems necessary in the hectic call center environment, but it can also lead to mistakes and other inefficiencies. Companies should train their workers with proper multitasking practices that prioritize listening to and understanding the customer.
Addressing the Issue
Agents must patiently and respectfully interact with callers to help calm and reassure agitated customers. Also, agents must exude confidence and honesty so that they can get the full cooperation of callers. Despite their emphasis on FCR, employees should never attempt to resolve issues for which they are not qualified to handle. Instead, they should appropriately route such calls to give customers the fastest possible resolution. Even when a call must be transferred, agents must professionally act while minimizing hold time.
Anticipating Customer’s Needs
Experienced agents will recognize repetitive patterns with customer calls. Rather than cutting off customers, however, agents should allow callers to fully express themselves. Doing so makes customers feel valued and avoids faulty assumptions that could extend the time required to resolve an issue. A better understanding of customer needs will help every agent provide fast and effective service.
Although personal interaction can help callers feel valued as individuals, agents should do their best to keep their communications on a professional level. Otherwise, call time can accrue without making any concrete progress. Contact center workers should always take notes during conversations and, when necessary, check back with customers to make sure they have been satisfied with the service that they have received.
Callers might not always share their feelings, even when they are angry. Whenever possible, call center personnel should request feedback from customers. Doing so will improve communications while giving the firm valuable information that can help them improve the customer experience for future callers.
Call center FCR improvement can substantially improve customer satisfaction and retention rates for a firm. Call center solutions and other technology can improve call center effectiveness, but training, education and effective communication are also needed to reduce the time and effort needed to resolve customer concerns.
We help companies by evaluating how well their call center supports the overall mission of their business. No two businesses are the same, so we work with each client to achieve a balance between call center performance and their other goals. Using the metrics we put into place, our clients have the ability to measure performance and efficiency gains and identify areas that require further attention.