10 First Call Resolution Tips for Call Center Agents
First contact resolution (FCR) refers to when a customer's inquiry is resolved in a single contact. It’s a critical key performance indicator (KPI) in measuring both the quality of the customer experience and in measuring contact center efficiency. However, it can be a challenge both in terms of measurement and continuous improvement.
Obviously, when a customer has to repeatedly contact a company in order to resolve an issue, they are very likely to become frustrated and dissatisfied with the service. Conversely, if agents are able to successfully resolve the issue in a single point of contact it’s a better experience for the customer and more operationally efficient as there's no follow ups or escalations.
First Call Resolution vs. First Contact Resolution?
It can be tricky to accurately measure FCR, so it’s important to differentiate between (and account for) the different modes of contact. Whereas first call resolution applies to the voice channel alone, first contact resolution applies equally across multiple touch points, including email, web chat and social channels (in addition to phone queries).
A customer who called first time round may not want to call again if they weren’t satisfied, and may instead use email, social media or chat – or vice versa.
Measurement of first contact resolution typically comes down to the customers’ feedback on whether the inquiry was resolved to their satisfaction. You may need to use a number of different tracking methods in order to capture this information.
1. Train call center agents to handle a wide variety of queries on the first call.
Using a skills matrix, you can see at a glance the abilities of your agents. Tailor training programs accordingly to nurture and develop your team. Create a knowledge base for for frequently asked questions so less skilled agents can easily find out how to resolve common calls.
2. Use call routing technology to rout to the correct person on the first call.
Skill based routing ensures customers are matched up with the best agent for the call. You can deliver calls based upon language proficiency or product knowledge, and prioritize your agents’ skills in real-time. With intelligent call routing or data-directed routing, you can interrogate data within your CRM and factor it into the routing process so that customers with an outstanding delivery can be directed to the dispatch department or a customer with an ongoing, active complaint could be routed directly to a supervisor.
It’s also a good practice to set up immediate call backs for customers who abandon the queue or get cut off, turning a bad experience into a service recovery opportunity.
3. Eliminate conflicting objectives or KPIs that could work against FCR.
While this sounds obvious, it happens quite often. If staff are being measured for Average Handle Time (AHT), for example, or worrying about the number of calls waiting, then successful First Call Resolution could be impacted. Be sure to take these scenarios into consideration.
4. Communicate the importance of FCR to your staff and use incentives.
Make sure your agents are aware of the importance of first contact resolution and good customer service in general. If FCR is important to you, it needs to be deeply ingrained within the company culture. Incentives can be a fantastic way of motivating agents to perform against your FCR goals.
5. Measure First Call Resolution consistently.
A sophisticated call recording system is essential to quality monitoring and call ratings. However, because only the customer truly knows when their issue has been resolved, post-call customer surveys give customers the chance to provide an honest perspective.
Another way to do this is via social media. Be sure to monitor what your customers are saying online. Ask how they feel they’ve been dealt with, as people are more likely to be honest online. And quickly addresses issues that arise online as they are visible to the public at large. By adopting a multi-touch point approach to measuring first contact resolution, it’s much more possible to get an accurate picture of customer satisfaction.
6. Encourage feedback from staff to understand the issues that customers are reporting.
Create a culture where staff feedback is encouraged and a part of the operation. Are certain issues recurring? And make sure processes are in place to actually act upon the input from the agents.
7. Sense check your IVR system.
Periodically review your IVR system to ensure it's up-to-date and getting the customers to the right place quickly.
8. Monitor repeat calls
Your contact center solution should allow you to pull a simple report that shows repeat calls. Remember customers’ actions may speak louder than their words. Are they continuing to make contact after their issue has supposedly been resolved? Repeat call tracking technology can allow you to monitor this, and with CRM integration you should be able to track if they are making repeat contact through other channels.
9. Eliminate roadblocks in your scripting process.
If you work with scripts in your contact center then you need to ensure they have the flexibility to adequately handle customer issues during the first call. Dynamic agent scripting that integrates with your CRM system can help.
10. Check monitor your call outcome codes frequently.
Again, you should be able to pull quick reports from your contact center system that will help you to identify, track and monitor FCR through your call outcome codes. But call center reporting also needs to tie in with the direct feedback from the customer. Never rely solely on the agent to decide if it was resolved. Remember: the customer is always right!
Customer Satisfaction: The Defining Point for Measuring Contact Center Success
Part of the reason why FCR is debated as a metric is that its definition can be different depending on the business. What does it actually mean for contact to be resolved? Ultimately it’s a question of customer satisfaction -- and the best way to measure FCR is to ask the customer.
Of all the contact center metrics and KPIs, FCR is one to definitely one to prioritize and continually try to improve upon. If you can crack this, you'll have happier customers, happier staff (that you are more likely to retain), and a stronger brand.