Addressing the customer's needs the first time they call is an important key factor in service delivery. No one likes to be bounced back and forth between departments; to be placed on hold for lengthy periods before being transferred; OR worse – get transferred to someone that may not be able to assist. These scenarios have a negative impact on the organizations performance and reputation. The first call resolution model is one of the most important aspects in ensuring that the customers experience is positive.
The Contact Center industry has evolved – your customers are mobile and connected. We live in a society that is time poor; as a result customers expect immediate answers and solutions. If for whatever reason there is a need to follow up the FCR (first call resolution) model will minimize the impact of poor customer service. It is important to note that customers should not be transferred more than once.
So let's explore the FCR model;
Traditional metrics in a call center environment focus on service levels, talk time, wrap up time, call volumes handled, abandoned rates and other call monitoring scores. These metrics do matter, however first call resolution and operating costs should rate high on the metrics list. They measure the effectiveness of the entire operation.
Average call handling time is a performance metric common in all contact centers. Managers monitoring this activity will tell you that reducing the AHT (average handling time) minimises wait times, therefore service delivery is optimized and abandoned calls are reduced. It can be a juggling act, especially when you monitor real time traffic.
One needs to consider that pressure to significantly reduce talk time MAY result in poor first call resolution rates. This is a sign that customers needs are not being met. Call volumes increase due to repeat calls. Then you realize that you do not have the resources to accommodate the influx of calls. It becomes a vicious circle. Customer dissatisfaction is expressed by numerous follow up calls and an increase in call volume. Complaints and lost business opportunities is the output.
As a general rule contact center managers accept increased call handling time because the first call resolution rate increases. When the first call resolution model is a key performance indicator, you do not want to be seen as punishment agents for not handling a certain number of calls per hour or for going over the desired call handling time – this will result in poor performance and dissatisfied customers – it's that simple
Here are some questions to ask yourself;
- Why do you need to reduce your average call handling time?
- Can you improve your processes?
- Do your agents have the skills and delegated authority necessary for a FCR model?
- Do you have adequate resources to service your customer base?
- How important is service delivery? Have the other metrics taken over?
If your organization has the system capabilities you should also consider measuring the number of repeat calls. Repeat call technology exists. Conduct a root cause analysis and review your processes.
The sad fact is that most contact center managers struggle in measuring and improving FCR performance.
How do you measure FCR? FCR = (# resolved liabilities closed on the first contact) divided by (total # interests) * 100%
Consider the use of a post FCR survey: The survey can be incorporated into your IVR or email. The customer is asked to; 1) Rate their experience, 2) Whether the call was resolved and 3) How many calls it took to resolve the call. So long as the customer does not have to call back about the same inquiry or issue. FCR can still be achieved if the call had to be transferred to another employee or department.
Focus on metrics that matter and your customers will experience a positive journey!