How effectively are you able to address customers’ needs the first time? Learn how to improve this vitally important contact center metric.
Since the earliest call centers, businesses have measured how effectively and efficiently agents address customer issues during the first interaction. The rate of first call resolution (FCR) remains important, even with the addition of digital channels, because it encapsulates a team’s performance and impact.
Calculating First Call Resolution
Before diving deeper into how to improve first call resolution, it’s a good idea to describe the metric. FCR is defined as when it only takes one response or interaction with a customer to resolve an issue.
While calculating first call resolution rates was straightforward when there was a single voice channel, it has become more complex with the addition of digital communication channels. To derive your first call resolution rate, you will want to use this formula:
FCR = Number of issues solved in a single representative response
Total number of resolved cases for a specific period
Once you have determined your first call resolution rate, you can begin to determine the best strategies for improving it.
1. Understand the Problems Before Trying to Fix Them
Conduct an analysis to uncover the root causes of interactions that were not resolved on first contact. This will give you insight on specific inefficiencies to make data-driven decisions.
Specific issues to identify:
- What are the most common reasons calls are transferred?
- When they are transferred, where are customers being transferred to?
- Why are callers not satisfied with interactions?
- What are the main reasons calls are escalated to a supervisor?
- Why are customers using multiple channels for a single interaction?
2. Consider Contributing Factors
All of the responsibility cannot be placed on frontline employees. Often, there are other factors that contribute to interactions not being able to be resolved the first time. These include:
- Problems or issues with products or services being sold.
- Ineffective company policies or procedures that negatively affect representative performance.
- Issues with the IVR system or other self-service channels.
- Poor training or product/service knowledge.
- Software/hardware problems.
To identify these problems, review call logs, call recordings and customer surveys. Additional information can be gained by having regular meetings with agents. Once these issues have been identified, you can improve first call resolution by closing gaps in service and correcting inefficiencies, training and policies.
3. Understand Your Customers
To improve first call resolution, it’s beneficial to group customers together by demographic data, such as age group, gender, job title, and income level. With this information, you can gain a better understanding of your entire customer base and what each group’s specific needs are and why they call.
By grouping them you can determine common characteristics that can drive specific actions to deliver a better customer experience.
4. Upgrade Contact Center Software
There have been significant advancements in contact center solutions. You can now equip representatives with many tools to increase first call resolution, including unified desktops that display a caller’s name, company, contact information and social media profiles. Representatives can also have, at their fingertips, information on all previous interactions to prepare them to resolve the issue without having to call them back or transfer the call.
5. Automate Tasks
The back office is a key component of first call resolution. Representatives need up-to-date information in the CRM and other back office solutions to answer customer issues effectively.
6. Tackle the Routing Issue
The majority of service organizations continue to struggle with outdated voice-centric contact center systems with restrictive queue-based routing. This means every customer is routed into one or more queues without any particular logic. If you’re not ready to upgrade to a SIP-based system with a solution that supports omnichannel engagement, you can still deploy a solution on top of legacy infrastructure with skills-based routing that assigns information to each customer to route them to the best possible agent.
7. Consider a workforce management solution
Often, there also are underlying staffing or training issues contributing to low first call resolution rates. A workforce management solution can help automate workforce scheduling and training to optimize employee productivity, performance and satisfaction.
8. Improve Your Content
An effective proactive strategy to improve first call resolution that many organizations overlook is to optimize content on existing digital channels. If representatives can direct customers to accessible information online or via email, they can guide them to it, minimizing the chance of them calling back about the same issue.
9. Don’t Scrimp on Training
Representatives must be well versed in handling a wide variety of calls. This means training them on software, product information, procedures, policies and communication skills. They will also need regular updates, such as product recalls, promotions, sales, technical support issues and other issues that lead to customer interactions.
10. Motivate Customers
Employees who are motivated are more likely to provide first call resolution. To make this happen, it’s important to tie goals with improving the first call resolution rate. Give them the chance to track their own performance and offer feedback, recognition and rewards when they reach performance goals.