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Contact Center Best Practices: How to Improve First Call Resolution

Contact Center Best Practices: How to Improve First Call Resolution

Imagine this, you’re streaming your favorite TV show and suddenly you lose internet connection. You try all the basic troubleshooting steps: check all the necessary cables, unplug and re-plug the router, maybe even do a hard reset. Alas, none of the usual tricks work and you are forced into one of the most dreaded things to ever confront mankind: calling customer service.

Why do people despise calling customer service? Surely it’s not simply because it means something is wrong with your device or service.

No, we hate it because of the experience. We fear the long holds, the endless queues, and the predictable scripts.

After all the hoops we’ve had to jump through, we’re left with the same problem and face the prospect of doing it all over again. 

What really keeps us up at night is the thought that our problems will go unresolved. 

This is why First Call Resolution is so vital to call centers.

First Call Resolution (FCR) is a set metric that measure the capacity of a contact center’s workforce to resolve an issue on the first call.

A good FCR means that a customer’s call is resolved in their first interaction with your agent. Obviously, not all calls can be dealt with in the first contact. Still, FCR rate should be a key metric to keep an eye on and strive to improve if you want to provide exceptional customer experience and stay in business. It is essential to increasing customer satisfaction as a higher rate means that you are solving your customers’ problems efficiently.

How can you improve your FCR, you may ask?

Below are some of the best practices that can help you better your agents and the way your call center provides customer support for your clients or for your own company.

Get your priorities straight

The more customers you talk with, the more of them you can provide service to, right? Not necessarily.

You can seem efficient by receiving and handling more calls but that does not mean you are effective. If your call center still puts a premium on just hitting monthly call volume targets and quotas over quality, this needs to stop.

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to help as many customers as you can. But to do that, you actually need to resolve their issues. Shift your focus to the metrics that are involved in fixing customer concerns and you will see your FCR improve. As you do this, you will also see if there are workforce adjustments that need to be done.

Knowledge is power

Believe it or not, the best way you can help your customers is knowing how to fix their problems. It’s that simple.

Every agent on the receiving end of calls must be adequately equipped to handle the issues that might come their way. This means quality training focused on knowledge of the problems and their solutions.

What are the common complaints your customers make? Which of these most often go unresolved? Why did these remain unresolved? These are only a few of the questions that can help you understand your customers. There are many more questions that can be asked and it is up to you to conceive those in line with the goals of your company. What is important is that you ask the right questions and be able to answer them so you can train your workforce adequately.

In the same vein, putting up systems where employees can share their knowledge as needed is also a great way to address customer concerns efficiently without having to constantly uptrain. Andrew Konoff shared his ideas on the Salesforce blog, “Building up internal social networks (like Chatter) can enable the right person to contribute their knowledge to the right problem at the right time.”

Preparation is the key to success

From here, you’re ready to train your agents. Start with the basics. Familiarize them with all the concerns that they may face. Having a product or service expert come in to train them is crucial.

In training, it’s important to simulate actual calls and concerns that will come up. Highlight the more common ones, but sufficiently prepare them for the more difficult matters as well. Ensure that they have a handy resource chock-full of information that will help them address concerns.

Additionally, make sure that they have a great handle on the tools you use. From the phone system to the CRM, their ability to confront issues will greatly benefit by using all the tools at their disposal.

It’s a continuous process

At this point, your job is not over. It’s not like riding a bike which doesn’t require much more once you’ve learned how to ride. You need to take the proper measures to maintain and constantly develop your call center’s ability to solve customer problems.

Perhaps the most important metric linked to FCR is the quality of the call. Different companies have various ways of rating this but the important thing to remember is to focus on quality. Are your agents following the right processes? What did they do right/wrong? What can they improve? 

Other important metrics to keep an eye on are those that concern employee satisfaction. After all, they are the ones directly interacting with your customers. Are your employees motivated and engaged? How often are they absent? How high is your turnover rate?

No matter how well you’ve prepared, never be satisfied. It is vital that you continue to ask questions regarding your operations. Only by addressing these can you find ways to improve the customer experience.

A note on technology

Remember the reasons we dread calling customer service? Imagine if, within seconds of dialing, you reach an agent. You never reach the wrong department and you never have to be transferred. Imagine not being put on hold for long, if at all. Sounds impossible, right? But it’s not.

One thing call centers should do is invest in software that helps optimize and organize their operations. With the advanced software available, you can significantly reduce the time used for non-call tasks such as updating databases and looking up customer transaction history. They also aid in analyzing customer demographic data and building customer profiles which help prepare your agents. 

The key to a higher FCR rate is improving customer experience. So far, we have looked at the best practices around in the industry. But remember, no one knows your company better than you. Use this as a guide to develop practices that best fit with your goals and your call center. Make service your top priority and you will be on your way to higher FCR rates and improved customer satisfaction.

We want to help you find ways to deliver better customer experience. Checkout our free diagnostic for a comprehensive review of your contact center.

 

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Aki Merced

Aki Merced

Aki Merced writes about B2B sales and marketing as a content marketer for Tenfold. Follow her on Twitter @akimerced!

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