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Getting it right the first time – technology fixes for improving First Call Resolution

By: Dom Kent

The value of excellent customer service can never be underestimated. Get it right and 96% of your customers will remain loyal, according to ICS’s annual index. However the fickleness of the modern consumer is a very fine line, and in a culture of instant gratification customers simply won’t tolerate businesses that waste their time and energy.

Every touch point between you and your customers needs to be seamless. It’s your duty to allow the customer to reach their desired outcome with minimal time and effort, and almost isn’t good enough.

The contact centre plays a critical role in making this possible. First Call Resolution (FCR) is where your customer service team is able to solve a customer query or issue on the first call. The modern consumer is more informed and more likely to publicly voice discontent, making FCR industry best practice. You only need to look on Twitter to see what happens when businesses hit wide of the FCR mark.

Contact centre technology is evolving to meet these growing consumer needs. As an IT leader, you need to identify and address shortcomings in your operations to make sure that FCR is what’s expected of your contact centre agents, and not just what they aspire to.

To be clear FCR is as often a process and organisational structure issue as much as it is a toolset issue. If you must transfer a customer to accounts and they’re weak at answering the call, or don’t have the authority to approve that credit the customer wants then no amount of contact centre technology can help. That said, there are modern basics that can go a long way to getting FCR right as often as possible:

CRM Integration

In order to make the most informed decisions on how to meet a customer’s needs, you must make sure your contact centre agents have easy access to all necessary information. Integrating your contact centre with your CRM database makes this possible. Is this the first time they’ve had this issue, or is it a recurring problem? How were previous queries handled? Giving your customer service team access to this information also allows the to use the call to create additional value for the customer, such as noticing they’re eligible for better contract terms or could take advantage of a relevant offer.

Skill-based call routing (SBR)

SBR is a call-assignment strategy that connects incoming calls to the most suitable agent, rather than simply the next agent available. Intelligent routing of incoming calls allows your contact centre to optimise resources allocation, sorting calls based on factors such as existing customer data, the customer’s position in the sales cycle, and agent profile. For example, a caller may have an issue that can be best resolved by an agent with specific expertise or decision-making powers, so rather than wasting their time transferring between departments, your SBR can make sure they’re most likely to find a resolution with the least number of steps.

Escalation

It’s not uncommon for customers to become tense and frustrated when dealing with contact centre agents and channels. Having escalation procedures in place allows for issues to be quickly detected and expertly handled. Escalation points can be implemented across a range of channels including emails, SMS, social media and telephone, creating in-built triggers for corrective action to take place. In practice, this could mean a terse Twitter exchange between a customer and social media agent being escalated to a call to diffuse negative online sentiment, or an angry caller being escalated to a more senior representative to make them feel they’re getting appropriate attention.

Customer call back

The mindset a customer has when dealing with your agents is often the result of experience they had before they even joined the call. Long hold times are likely to create frustration and a hostile attitude. Implementing a customer call back system eliminates the need for customers to wait on hold. Instead, the system marks their place in the queue and then automatically calls them back when a live agent is ready to assist them.

Self-service support

During peak periods, bottlenecks can seriously impact your agents’ ability to handle customer enquiries. Creating a self-service interactive Q&A-based trouble-shooter for customers to engage with can help them find a satisfactory resolution without the need for agent intervention. Where the trouble-shooter is unable to resolve the enquiry, a log of the customer’s actions is delivered to a live agent, providing a smooth transition that eliminates the need for the customer to re-explain the issue.

Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR)

IVR solutions allow your customers to interact with your support services via a telephone keypad or through speech recognition, which directs users on how best to proceed in order to have their query handled promptly and effectively. The technology also collects call information for data analysis and identification of recurring customer issues that can help you identify weak spots in your support operations.

What’s right for your business?

These tools are only a selection of what’s available to enhance your contact centre operations. The important point is to give your agents the training and tools so they can master the customer experience and surpass expectations. To find out which tools could help your contact centre perfect FCR, get in touch with a member of our team.

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