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Everyone knows that repeat callers are expensive, even really expensive. That’s why most companies track First Call Resolution (FCR) as a metric on their agents’ scorecards. Hold them responsible for FCR and the percentage will improve, right?

Maybe not. Your plan may be undermined by your company and its internally created road blocks that make FCR difficult or even impossible in some scenarios. Before you start defending your processes and blaming your agents, let’s look at the top 3 things high performing contact centers do.

3 things that enable agents to increase fcrVisibility Enable Agents to Increase FCR

First, they think about visibility; meaning, they ensure agents are connected to other critical areas of the organization that could impact the resolution of their call. For example, products occasionally require service or repair and customers call about getting a repair person sent out for a non-functioning product, so their agents access the schedule to make the appointment.  They have visibility into the actual appointment calendar, and they find ways of going beyond having an accurate view of who does service the customer’s area.

It’s easy to see how this can improve FCR, think about how many times you have make customers call back because they couldn’t get an appointment scheduled with the options you provided. Even if there are only 25 repeat calls like that per day of the thousands of calls, it still equates to 9,000 unnecessary calls per year which, using a fully loaded cost per call of $10, quickly equates to $90,000 wasted servicing repeat customers that could have been prevented if a better process were in place. Just think about the brand value, positive word of mouth, NPS, and loyalty that is generated when companies go beyond and reduce the overall effort put forth by customers. That is a competitive advantage.

Removing Restrictions Enable Agents to Increase FCR

3 Things Enable Agents to Increase FCRSecond, think about the restrictions within some of your day-to-day operations. For example, companies that enable agents to increase FCR provide override access. When customers place orders for products online what happens? For high performing contact centers, when customers place orders and realize seconds after checking out that they need to change something on the order, a contact center agent can over-ride and update orders.

While it would be foolish to hold the order for a day or two ‘just in case’ a customer wants to change something, customers expect the ability to make changes if they call the contact center, within a reasonable time window.

High performing contact centers never have to tell a customers they cannot make a correction after the “submit order” button is pushed. They do not have to tell customers that there can be no changes and they will have to wait until they receive it and then call back to orchestrate an exchange. They do not place that kind of burden and effort on their customers.

You can imagine the FCR mess this makes for customers and how it prevents the agent from achieving FCR on the call. A situation like this would mandate a minimum of two calls in order to resolve the issue, deal with a returned product and a credit and then any problems that arise from that process.

On top of that, a conservative estimate of 50 of these calls per week quickly adds up to 2,600 calls per year and at least another $26,000 wasted on unnecessary repeat calls, plus additional to manage the exchange and credit process. And now you have a Class B product to handle.

Coaching Enable Agents to Increase FCR

And third, let’s take a look at the coaching your agents are receiving. Most every contact center has a process in place where supervisors or someone reviews and evaluates agent calls and provides feedback accordingly. But high performing contact centers deliver great coaching. Do you separate the difference between development and performance management?

I’m sure you have extensively trained the supervisors or coaches on how to evaluate and score the calls, but have you ever invested in training them how to deliver coaching to your agents? Do they learn and build the behaviors that ‘provide effective coaching’? High performing centers are very intentional in their coaching and do not leave it to chance. Because they know, left to their own, there will be many different definitions of appropriate and as many approaches.

Survey your agents

Even if when they think they are coached, high performing contact centers survey their people. They know coaching is a personal thing. By surveying their agents, these centers can find out if agents feel they are being developed and set up for success.  Then and only then is when they find it acceptable to hold the agents accountable for meeting or exceeding target goals. They want to provide them with the appropriate coaching they need in order to be successful.

For example, everyone would agree that professional athletes know how to play the sport that they are paid to play extremely well; they are the best of the best. Yet, even those elite athletes have coaches that orchestrate plays and help them improve their game. High performing centers coach their professionals on how to improve their skills.

You wouldn’t be alone to say that you have more than 3 things preventing FCR, so it’s time to spot the common thread. Before you roll out your plan, please know that high performing contact centers measure FCR differently. They do not measure the common way.

Most importantly, they make sure they are measuring FCR from the customers’ perspective. They do not rely on an internal estimate as their starting point. They also generate 4 resolution related metrics, capture customer verbatims, and generate service recovery alerts for those with unresolved questions or problems. Armed with these insights helps them to better coach the company on how to improve performance.

About Vicki Nihart

Six Sigma certified and more than 15 years experience in contact center operations. Vicki leverages contact center operations subject matter expertise and deep analytic capabilities to support clients and build relationships. Analyzing and interpreting data is a passion she converts into purpose.

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