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Accelerate First Call Resolution Success

Accelerate First Call Resolution Success

The Holy Grail of customer service might be better known as first call resolution (FCR), which, as the name implies, means customers only have to reach out once before they can hang up (or otherwise walk away) satisfied.

There may be no surer sign of a customer service strategy gone wrong than the words, “Hi, I called earlier . . . ?”

When customers not only have a problem or complaint about a particular product or service, but have to reconnect with a company multiple times to get things put right, the likelihood of increased business diminishes considerably. This is sometimes a challenge even for the largest companies with multiple contact centres and dozens of agents.

Canadian small and medium-sized businesses may lack those kinds of resources, but in some respects the expectations customers put on them may be even higher. After all, doing business with an SMB often means enjoying a more personal relationship with whomever you’re buying from. If the turnaround on a post-sale issue isn’t tackled efficiently — the first time — they may wind up opting for a larger and potentially more sophisticated supplier.

The Holy Grail of customer service might be better known as first call resolution (FCR), which, as the name implies, means customers only have to reach out once before they can hang up (or otherwise walk away) satisfied.

1. Determine Who Can Take Total Contact Ownership

In large contact centre environments, there are sometimes teams of agents who may be pulled in to handle various areas of a customer’s problem — almost like puzzle pieces that lock into place. In some cases, however, there are agents who are given what is called “total contact ownership,” or TCR. This means that, from start to finish, the same agent will see the caller’s problems through.

In SMB environments you might assume everyone has TCR, but that may not be the common understanding, nor the best approach. If the person who made the original sale takes TCR, for example, they may be helping to ensure a valuable customer relationship isn’t damaged, but it also means they’re spending less time continuing to sell to other customers.

Evaluate your team and their eligibility for TCR based on some of the following factors:

a) Scope of role — how often are they likely to be available to not only take the call but escalate it as needed?

b) Subject matter expertise — the larger the organization, the more specialized certain product and service knowledge tends to get. Even if you seem to have mostly generalists on your team, determine if they can really cover off most problems without passing the call on.

c) Soft skills — Don’t forget the “R” in TCR. If members of your team aren’t ready for the pressure, time constraints and potential discomfort of dealing with angry customers, they might be better off passing the call onto someone with the right touch.

2. Conduct A First Call Resolution ‘Fire Drill’

There’s not much point in waiting until disaster strikes if you can recreate the conditions just before a disaster and learn how to prevent it. This is the philosophy behind traditional fire drills, where companies map out the best escape routes and determine a common meeting place and other procedures to protect everyone’s safety. Improving your FCR rate works much the same way.

Take one of your most popular products. Think about the most common challenges or complaints you know have already come through the system. Imagine where it could all go wrong. Now imagine yourself making that first call and discuss with your team whether the following are in place:

  • Easy access within CRM to previous customer purchases and history of interactions
  • Ticket information or whatever process is used to track issues through the company
  • Accuracy and relevance of all content provided to assist with frequently asked questions or complains about products and services
  • Answers to internal FAQs: What can you tell your staff in advance about waiving fees, honouring warranties, promotional discounts or adjusted billing so they don’t have to route the call elsewhere (or keep customers waiting on hold)

3. Map The Road To First Calls

It may seem like customer questions or complaints come out of nowhere, but they rarely do. In fact, the geography of customer service is really about taking a more analytical approach and doing upfront work to minimize effort all around.

For example, treat customer service issues much like you would prospect information in CRM. Why do certain customers tend to call in? Can you form segments within your base that have common characteristics? What patterns of behaviour are evident and how can you address them more proactively? The use of online customer communities may be a way for some buyers to offer peer support and self-manage their challenges.

Next, think about when a “first call” is not really a first call. Some customers may reach out initially by email or social media channels before actually picking up the phone. If some of their problems could be solved at the original point of contact, there won’t be a real first call to resolve.

Finally, make sure FCR is a well-defined aspect of your company’s culture, no matter what its size. Most companies have a mission statement that involves offering some kind of value to their target audience. Part of yours should be a spirit among employees to reduce the number of times customers need to get something fixed. An engaged, empowered workforce may be one of the best-kept secrets to ensuring first calls are resolved nearly every time.

Learn how your company can get started with CRM by downloading our ebook, How to Jumpstart Your Journey to the Cloud.

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