I primarily shop online and therefore get many packages delivered. My UPS deliveryman never makes eye-contact, never says hello; he just tosses me the package and has me sign. Conversely, whenever I get a package from FedEx, this cheery fellow smiles while he asks me how I’m doing, and tells me to have a nice day; once we even had a laugh about my crazy dog that started licking him uncontrollably. While in both cases I received my packages, my customer service experience is drastically different.
So let me ask you, based on my delivery customer experience, would you shop more at online retailers that use UPS or FedEx? Would you be more lenient when a package does not arrive as expected with UPS or FedEx? Would you wait longer to call the retailer’s call center to track the package when you know it’s UPS versus FedEx?
We talk often about the importance of positive service over the phone in the contact center, but quality face-to-face interactions can affect the calls you are receiving in your call center and your first contact resolution rates (FCR); even if your service providers/vendors are involved in the service experience.
First-contact resolution has been a hot call center metric for years now. There are white papers and articles galore on the topic, and entire conferences and online forums dedicated to it. Most telling is that numerous managers have gotten “FCR Forever” and/or “One and Done” tattooed on their necks.
The majority of conversations about FCR center around two things: 1) the huge potential impact of FCR (on operational costs, customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction/retention); and 2) how the hell to measure this mega-metric accurately (no simple task, as you’ll see in my upcoming ebook, Full Contact).
What often gets lost amidst the FCR hype and the confusion surrounding its proper measurement is something even more critical: What processes, practices and tools a contact center can put in place to help improve FCR. Customers don’t care if you know how to measure FCR, they simply want you to achieve it. Following is a list of tactics to help you do just that:
Excellent agent training and tools. If your agents lack skills, knowledge and/or immediate access to key information on calls, your FCR rate is going to be lower than the average winter temperature in Greenland or the average morale level in a billing contact center. Top centers provide comprehensive new-hiring training to rookies and frequent ongoing training to veteran agents, forever keeping staff abreast of new products/services, information and approaches to help them provide the most efficient and effective service. In addition, these centers equip agents with user-friendly, fast and frequently updated desktop tools and knowledge bases that enable staff to find crucial customer data and product/service info a flash, thus reducing the number of times customers must be placed on hold, transferred, called back, or physically restrained.
World-class workforce management processes. Even the best-trained and equipped agents on the planet will die without oxygen, thus it’s critical to schedule enough staff to enable each agent to take at least two breaths between calls. Agents can’t resolve calls if they are having a stroke, or if the customer – who has been caged in the queue for 15 minutes – is screaming at them for taking so long to answer the phone. Thus, accurate forecasting and sound scheduling based on those forecasts is critical, as is mastering skills-based routing so that callers get sent to the right agent with the skill-set to handle the customer’s specific issue, and not to Bob – the quiet guy in the corner cubicle who makes paperclip sculptures of his mother.
No conflicting performance objectives. Many contact centers tell agents to focus on FCR, but then pressure them to achieve strict productivity objectives that interfere with agents’ ability to truly focus on the customer. Conflicting performance objectives are the number-one cause of agent-on-manager violence in America. Making FCR a KPI in your center but then punishing agents for not handling a certain number of calls per hour/shift or for going a little over the desired AHT average will not only hinder your center’s chances of achieving FCR success and customer satisfaction, it may result in you being killed or worse by furious frontline staff.
Incentives around FCR goal achievement. It’s always a wise practice to align agent incentives with the contact center’s and the enterprise’s performance goals. And since FCR success should be a top priority for nearly all customer care organizations, nearly all customer care organizations should reward and recognize agents when they consistently meet or exceed individual, team and center-wide FCR goals. Top contact centers do more than just order pizzas or pat staff on the back to celebrate current and propagate future FCR success; rather agents in these centers receive cash prizes, meaningful gifts/gift certificates, as well as public recognition at interdepartmental meetings and via internal newsletters/the corporate intranet. In addition to incentivizing and rewarding agents for FCR success, some centers de-incentivize and punish agents for FCR failure. This typically includes taking cash and gifts away from agents, publically humiliating them at meetings and via newsletters/the intranet, and forcing them to spend an hour alone in a room with somebody from IT.
Agents empowered to improve FCR-related processes. Your agents know customers and customer care better than anyone, assuming your center’s hiring and training programs don’t blow. Smart contact center managers actively solicit suggestions and insight from agents regarding how they may be able to enhance FCR performance. Given the opportunity, agents will tell you what tools, training and workflows are lacking, and what processes and metrics are interfering with their ability to effectively resolve customer issues. They will also tell you what color they would like the contact center to be painted and why they need a new headset that doesn’t shock their ears, so be sure to cut them off before they stray too far from the topic of FCR.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas on FCR improvement, and/or about any tattoos you have gotten to show your dedication to this key metric.
Read more: http://www.greglevin.com/index.html
Greg can also be reached via twitter @greg_levin
Photo Credit: www.callcentercomics.com
Consider your average number of calls per month, say 80,000 for example, at an average fully loaded cost of $8.00 per call. You are looking at $640,000 to cover these customer interactions taking place in your call center. Now consider your repeat calls, say 30%, and you can see that it’s costing $192,000 to have non productive, low value calls. We all know why First Call Resolution (FCR) is so important! “Knuggets” like these can capture reasons why multiple calls to your call center are needed, the root cause of the problem (call center agent, process or product problem) and help you get closer to an ideal FCR percentage with a few changes to your organization.
“It took four phone calls to get a pink slip. I’ve paid the car off, I deserve the pink slip. The first call I made said I would get it in 10 days; it’s now been 6 weeks. This phone call said it was mailed yesterday. Somehow I doubt that, but we’ll see. If I don’t get it, I’ll call you back. I don’t mind. I’m retired. I’ve got nothing to do but call you folks until I get what I need.”
“The agent was very helpful today in resolving my issue. She’s the only person who has ever found out where my limited warranty was on page 35 of the manual. I’ve talked to numerous people at your place, people at the store, and people with your company. I’ve talked to at least 12, maybe 15 people. Finally she got everything settled to the best of her ability. I am very appreciative. I would name my child after her. Thank you.”
“Maybe someone three calls ago could have told me to look behind the webpage for the date range selection box? There is no reason for someone to assume that it’s there and just hiding. And, telling me that this happens a lot and not to feel bad for calling makes me no longer happy that I got help but mad that I needed it in the first place.”
“You’d think you would tire of hearing how to avoid this common problem that I know everyone and their brother is having. How do I know? I took a poll at my son’s high school baseball game last week, and at the grocery store and the bank. Maybe you are waiting for me to be hired as a consultant? I’m not interested because you can’t fix stupid.”
Still struggling with FCR? Find out how you can improve First Call Resolution now!