First Call Resolution
We all strive to improve customer experience in our organizations but one thing is for certain, change is hard. Positive customer experience process improvement is achieved through a variety of ways: external quality monitoring programs that uncover hidden issues, working through high customer experience dysfunction issues to streamline internal processes, and organizing mounds of customer experience Big Data to better service your customers’ needs are just a few. We selected some of our favorite stories below to show you some of the ways you can improve customer experience processes in your business. Do you find these stories helpful? We’d love to hear your feedback directly. Please tweet me at @jodiemonger. Enjoy!
Services for homeowners are intertwined. What part of each dollar for your product or service is needed to fund a company’s dysfunction? This is a very serious question! Continue reading “Profiting from Customer Experience Process Improvements.” »
Customer experience data is powerful if you know how to unlock its valuable insights and make it actionable. If your organization wants to gain employee and company engagement, and create customer-centric environments, then it is critical to use survey calibration in your Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs.
When you are looking at specific customer experience performance metrics for call center agents, and you are sifting through piles of post-call survey scores and customer comments, you start to see that customers aren’t necessarily answering the questions correctly. It’s not uncommon to see that even though a customer was asked to rate one agent, they may opt to give a comment about another customer interaction entirely. I can’t tell you how many times when reviewing client data I see, “I know you want me to review Tom, but I’m actually upset with Mary so I want to tell you about what she said to me when I called last week.” Continue reading “You cannot skip Survey Calibration in your customer experience VoC programs.” »
When is enough, enough? During these lean economic times companies, like many households, are trying to do more with less. At what point does all of that scrimping and saving end up costing the company more? Let’s take head count and span of control for instance. In our example company, the External Quality Monitoring program using a post-call survey methodology shows that customers are happy with the current span of control ratio of approximately 15:1. The customers are not delighted, but not necessarily discontent. What if the management team of this company decides that ‘happy’ is the new ‘delighted’ and decides to tweak the span of control slightly in an attempt to reduce costs even more? If the company increases team size, they would be able to eliminate a supervisor position. They could simply function the same way they currently do when a supervisor is on vacation. Customers don’t notice vacation days so they won’t notice this, right? Continue reading “Scrimping in the call center can cost you” »
When people find out what I do for a living they inevitably tell me about some awful customer experience they’ve had and ask if I can ‘fix that company’. From my perspective as a consumer, I can certainly empathize with their bad customer experience, but as a call center professional I understand the common missteps call centers make that unknowingly lead to these negative customer experiences.
Imagine that you want to purchase a home theater projector online. You review the choices, pick it out, put everything you need into your cart and when you try to place the order, your credit card is declined. Now you call customer service hoping to save all of the work you just invested. The big help is that declines are usually due to daily credit card spending limitations, and to call the issuing bank. After clearing up the confusion with the bank and calling customer service again to place the order, the operator tells you all the sales reps are busy, and you need to call back to process the order. When you ask the operator why she can’t place the order for you, you are told that she does not have access to the necessary screens to key in the order. Insert your screaming or crying here because we consumers can only take so much frustration. Do they win when they break our spirit?
These common problems are painful to both sides. Customer effort shoots through the roof they are forced to jump through hoop after hoop just to spend their money with you. It’s too easy to abandon the sale. You know what’s next: jilted customers voice their frustrations through social media and publicly share their negative customer experience with your brand, swaying potential customers to your competitors. On the other side, the agents are heavily rooted in siloed call center processes and are incapable of resolving simple customer issues because of lack of access to necessary knowledge or software. Guess what? The agents leave you too. Continue reading “Are your siloed call center processes increasing customer effort?” »
Unless you’ve been actively hiding from all forms of media for the past year, you’ve heard about business intelligence. A Google search of the term yields 108 million results. So what is Business Intelligence? Business Intelligence is the practice of using Big Data to gain insight and drive change within an organization. A pretty broad definition, right? How do we do Business Intelligence at Customer Relationship Metrics?
Much of the work we do with/for our business partners is based in call centers. Call centers have been dubbed “the center of your universe” for very good reasons. Terabytes of data on the customer experience are collected each year, from customer email addresses to compliments, product quality issues, questions, wish list items, consumer behavior, online presence and preferences, etc. There’s not a better place in an organization to be if your slice of heaven is data, data and more data! But much of the data collected in call centers is “raw”, unstructured, in a hard-to-use format, and/or disconnected from other key data points.
What Customer Relationship Metrics does in Business Intelligence engagements is use a completely hosted reporting and data aggregation tools to bring disparate and largely unrelated data sources together into a platform where analytics are then possible. Analytics provide business partners with a means to identify relationships and to prioritize metrics in terms of capture and analysis, in what manner existing data can be best leveraged, and in many cases conducts the analysis that reveals opportunities, bottle-necks and risks within the organization that when rectified, result in top-line growth and bottom-line savings by improving the customer experience.
The organization depicted below is falling below their Call Resolution goal for the year. An analysis of resolution performance (from a customer perspective) revealed that the second largest department (in terms of call volume) is performing 15% below goal. This department accounts for approximately 33% of all calls and therefore represents the largest opportunity for improving the organization’s call resolution performance. This department is also lagging on the KPIs first call resolution, repeat call resolution, service level, and average handle time. This additional insight reveals that this department is experiencing failure in delivering resolution not only on initial contact but on any further contacts customers deem necessary to attain resolution. The repeat call problem, combined with above average handle time makes the issue of non-resolution a very costly one.
An analysis of customer comments about non-resolution revealed the following:
- 22% of customers complained that agents did not seem to care about the customer’s problem or expressed no desire to help the customer.
- 11% of customers indicated dissatisfaction with the amount of time they had to wait to reach an agent.
- 40% of customers perceived that a specific line of company products were lemons (requiring multiple repairs for the same / a recurring problem due to product quality).
- 27% of customers reported dissatisfaction with the company’s resolution to lemons Continue reading “What is Business Intelligence?” »
Last week I told you about my alarm vs. phone company customer experience drama and raised the question of what part of each dollar spent on your products and services is needed to fund your company’s dysfunction. I bet it’s more than you thought.
To last week’s point, I just received my phone bill. I usually skim my bills and just pay what’s required. This time my paranoia of dysfunction got the best of me and I started reading the bill line by line. The bill was littered with this fee and that fee. Hard line fee? Gross receipts surcharge? Fees that I’m now convinced are disguised to cover the phone company’s dysfunction because they cannot just raise the base monthly cost without everyone noticing. Then I study the alarm monitoring company’s invoice and try to calculate what the monthly fee SHOULD be – I think I have to pay the fully loaded dysfunction fee of $39 when it should be more like $29 without the dysfunction subsidy.
Is your company so heavily process-reliant that you’ve squashed common sense? Common sense that’s needed to solve simple customer issues? Is one department setting up another to fail because of lack of communication or information that then leads to bouncing your call-in customers around without a clear path to call resolution? Are your analysts running around creating reports that no one is reading when they should be reviewing the company’s speech analytics to uncover the real customer pain? Continue reading “Just how much customer experience dysfunction am I paying for here?” »
Mining and analyzing customer comments to understand sentiment is no longer a wish. It’s a must. Based on years of experience, I suspect many of you are like the business partners I work with: you understand the value of the activity, would love to be able to get your hands on the insight, but don’t have the resources to do the work.
But there is good news. Using basic business intelligence approaches, it is possible to get a quick start on sentiment and text analysis to better understand what your customers think and say about your business. This information can then be leveraged to better serve customers and ultimately, improve the bottom line.
The rate at which customers provide commentary in customer experience surveys in itself can be very telling. Below are examples of insights that can be gained simply by examining the relationship between key real-time survey metrics and the propensity of customers to provide verbal feedback.
For the business partner depicted in the chart below, customer comments and real time alert rates were highly correlated. The more likely a customer was to comment, the more likely alert rates were to increase, and vice versa. This suggests that dissatisfied customers who required a follow up call from a manager were more likely to leave negative comments than positive ones.
While this may seem troublesome at first blush, understanding customer complaints is often an untapped gold mine. Reading and mining these comments could offer significant intelligence and gains for this business partner which can then be woven back into continuous improvement initiatives. Continue reading “Your quick start to the customer experience gold mine.” »
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.
We’re taught from a young age to ‘love thy neighbor’, to be a conscientious citizen, to do the right thing. But often what we find is that some call centers aren’t equipped to deal with help from customers. They have a very strong culture overly focused on cost reduction (speed) and have processes to follow, and if there is no process for your request…they’re lost.
For instance, I recently received a call from a colleague who had phoned his local electric company about a severed wire he saw dangling over his neighbor’s house. He said he called for three days in a row to try and get someone from the electric company to come out to deal with the wire. The agents told him, they were clueless as to what to do or who to transfer him to since the problem wasn’t specific to his property. Did he have an account or claim number? No. Was the electric out in his own house? No. But the message he received was very clear; agents are doing what they are told to do and when a concerned neighbor or customer calls in with something out of the ordinary that is beyond their regular scripts and call topics, they freeze.
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
The financial calculations behind the First Call Resolution (FCR) issue are simple to calculate if you have the proper variables. To provide a valid response to the cost of repeat calls, a real-time customer feedback program is needed. Call centers must measure the effectiveness of the service delivery and the customers’ perception of call resolution immediately after the service interaction. The cost assessment will not be accurate without the voice of the customer. Customers should evaluate the service received on a call that includes, among other things, overall company, call and agent satisfaction, whether the call is about a problem, first call about the problem and was the problem resolved on that particular call.
Real-time surveys can effectively capture the information you need to combat the cause of the repeat calls. For those who had a problem that was not resolved on the call, the survey has to branch to an open-ended question to capture the customer’s description of the problem. This qualitative information adds the explanation to the dramatic quantitative information you now have available. The cause of the unresolved calls is invaluable to correcting process issues.
Many call centers have employed technology and manual solutions to help them answer their FCR rate question. Some of these solutions cost thousands of dollars to implement. But not one of them can answer the question better than the customer. Reviewing phone records and running a software application is the ultimate beating around the bush in this case. Stop trying to get to your FCR rate via the back door. The customer is the one experiencing the pain, so go to the source.
Do not make the mistake of underestimating the effect of repeat calls on your call center and your company. Customers are willing to accept and forgive the occurrence of a problem and increase their level of loyalty with a successful resolution but they will not tolerate repeat calls to resolve the same issue. Don’t believe me…ask them.
Still struggling with FCR? Find out how you can improve First Call Resolution now!
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!