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Jan 20, 2012 | 15 comments
When is a business delivering the best customer service possible?
It’s when zero customers interact with customer service.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true.
Do you call your credit card company every time your bill comes out right at the end of the month?
Do you call the pizza shop when the delivery takes place on time?
In the overwhelming majority of cases we interact with companies only when we don’t get the service we have been promised.
But in a not so ideal world, foul ups will happen, and sometimes customers will have to call you to complain. In such cases, companies must make sure that customers spend the minimum amount of time on the phone or exchanging emails.
One of the metrics that attempts to measure this is the FCR, or First Contact Resolution.
As the name indicates, FCR rate measures the number of customer calls that get resolved during the first contact with a call center agent. High FCR rates mean that fewer customers have to call or email again for the resolution of their issue.
This translates into both the customer and the call center saving time and money.
Two call centers serving companies in different businesses will have different ideal FCR rates. Luckily the tactics to improve FCR are not very different and can be deployed in any call center.
Training your front line agents in the nuts and bolts of your business operations might be expensive in the short term but it will be the best investment you have ever made. Knowledgeable frontline agents are your best guarantees for a high FCR.
Well trained agents can do little if they don’t have good customer service tools and resources at their disposal. Invest in an efficient live chat solution that identifies where the other person is chatting from. Deploy tools that have superior analytics capabilities baked in. Use knowledge resources that make updating your FAQs and knowledge base as easy as writing an email.
Call centers use a number of metrics to determine quality and profitability. Some of these metrics, like time per call are business and not customer oriented. If the focus is on reducing the time per call they might find FCR rates falling as agents would be looking to wrap up the call as soon as possible, customer issues be damned.
Analyze your call center communications to find out which are the most frequent calls being escalated to the next level. After understanding the issues that prompt these calls, take steps to minimize the escalations. It may be anything from more training, larger number of self service options on the website, change in business operations- do whatever needs to be done so that customers don’t have to call too often.
This is a part of agent training but merits its own point. Sometimes, customers call again when they are not very sure how the matter will be resolved. Some calls get repeated when either the customer or the agent start assuming things.
Agents have to be very careful to avoid any chance of miscommunication. Customers must be made aware of all the aspects of the case so that there is no need for them to call again to confirm.
If managers want to improve the FCR rate they have to institute incentive programs among employees who hit the requisite numbers. This incentive can be tied in with other perks and can be in the form of bonuses, promotions and recognition.
Institute a system of soliciting feedback from your agents. They deal with customers all day long and can provide insights on what changes can be made to improve FCR rate. In particular, ask about workflow, systems and processes that need to be tweaked or implemented to achieve higher rates.
Are you focusing on improving FCR in your customer service department? What steps have led to increase in the rate?
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