One of the key metrics for this is First Contact Resolution (FCR) or First Call Resolution, which is essentially a measurement of how many customer enquiries are solved at the first point of contact and removes the need for them to make contact again.
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How to Understand First Contact Resolution Rates
First Contact Resolution rates are not always straightforward to understand. They have to be understood in the context of the organisation. For example, brands that have already made the quick wins in their inbound calls may find that their FCR rates go down.
This trend may seem strange. But by eliminating (or, at least, reducing) the number of ‘easy’ calls that are being handled, it means that the remaining calls are going to be much harder to answer - and therefore more likely to require follow-ups to get to an answer.
'When considering how the factors involved in keeping customers happy differ depending on whether it is a service or sales call, some conclusions can be drawn:
First-contact resolution is still seen as the most important factor, albeit a higher proportion of service respondents (70%) place it in first, against 44% of sales contact centres.'
What Could High First Contact Resolution Rates Really Be Telling You?
A high FCR rate looks good, as it means that you’re solving a good proportion of customer enquiries first time around, however, it pays to dig into the metric a little further. Rather than taking FCR at face value, consider if there are inbound calls that could be handled more effectively elsewhere. A high FCR could indicate some underlying problems, such as:
Agents are answering straightforward questions, which would be better answered through proactive communications or a self-service option.
The self-service options you’re providing aren’t providing users with the answers they need
Confusing marketing messages mean customers are calling for clarification
Process errors or mistakes in other parts of the business are causing customers to call.
Removing the simple and easy calls will mean the remaining inbound calls are likely to be more complex. In the short-term, this may reduce FCR rates, as agents adjust to the new demands being placed upon them and new processes are developed to help resolve more complex enquiries.
But in the long term the overall trend for FCR is clear: as the easier enquiries are moved to online portals and self-serve options, the Contact Centre will have more resource and scope to handle complex customer problems.
This can be through any number of channels - not just phone. It will change the dynamic, turning the Contact Centre from the first port of call for many customers to the ultimate port of call when they really need help. Now we've explored what first contact resolution is, how about we explore one way we can manage customer expectation more effectively, give customers the information they need before they ask for it and drive down the requirement to pick up the phone and engage with the contact centre.
Managing The Pressure In The Call Centre Environment
“There’s no such thing as being too busy” is a common phrase used in a multitude of industries to motivate employees...but I’ll take a chance and bet that whoever came up with that mantra had never worked in a Call Centre.
Whether you’re the one answering the phone, handling (and drowning) in a sea of performance metrics, or even stepping into your customer's shoes and calling in yourself, we’ve all experienced the pressures and frustrations that come along with the Call Centre environment.
But whilst many Call Centre Managers bury their heads into planning strategies and forecasts in order to prepare their team, they largely ignore the one golden rule they need that will not only make life easier for their frontline, but their customers too...
...Use Proactive Communication to give people the information they need, before they ask for it.
There’s no one better at communicating with your customers than your Call Centre agents, heck, that’s why they work for you. But take a look at your call logs... how many of those customer interactions were based on low-value calls dealing with existing queries? If the phrases “tracking a parcel’s whereabouts”, “checking up on a loan application”, or “reminder of appointment date” seem familiar to you, it’s time for a change.
By proactively sending your customers the information they need via text, voice recording or email, before they ask for it, you can immediately reduce the number of inbound calls to your Call Centre. Which leaves your agents free to handle the calls regarding Customer Retention and further sales opportunities!
Plus, that’s not all - Proactive Communication can also help to manage out the natural peaks and troughs in your Call Centre.
Research shows that one of the biggest frustrations for customers is spending long periods of time in call queues. But by sending messages at a pace which matches your available resources (e.g. texting customers early in the morning to encourage them to call in and make a payment, but ramping it back during the naturally busy lunch period) you can ensure that your agents never find themselves swamped with an influx of calls.
One simple rule that when implemented will ensure that your Call Centre productivity is never kept on hold.
For an even more in-depth look at how you can drive customer service excellence through your Contact Centre, explore 'Part One of the ContactBabel 14th UK Contact Centre Decision Maker's Guide', which dives into the research behind customer experience management, customer satisfaction and using customer feedback to handle complaints.
Want to learn how you can drive customer service excellence through your contact centre? Click here to get your copy of 9 Contact Centre Struggles and How to Overcome Them.