When you call a support center to get help on an issue or have a question answered, will you be more satisfied with the company if:
- The customer representative is knowledgeable and is able to resolve your issue on the first call?
- The representative is unsure how to help you, puts you on hold, and then asks you to call back so that a supervisor can help you?
It’s pretty obvious, right? If a company can resolve your problem on the first try, you’ll think more favorably of the company and rate your customer satisfaction experience higher.
First-Call Resolution (FCR) is one of the simplest—and most effective ways a company can improve customer satisfaction.
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The statistics back the correlation between FCR and customer satisfaction
- 20% of callers don’t have their issue resolved on the first call.
- 68% of those with unresolved issues are at risk for defecting to another company.
- CSAT rates are, on average, 35-45 % lower when a second call is made for the same issue.
- For every 1% of FCR improvement, companies are likely to see a 1% improvement in CSAT rates.
- When an issue is resolved on the first try, only 3% of customers are likely to go to a competitor.
And the stats go on … but you get the point. To improve your customer service, work on your FCR rates. There’s definitely a business case for addressing resolution rates!
But, for many companies, improving FCR is a complex issue. What’s going on?
Just improve your FCR and you’ll have happier customers! Easier said than done, right? Let’s examine some of the most common barriers to FCR.
- Complex Products or Issues: FCR is much easier for, say, an online retail store, where a customer is calling to get more information on dress sizes, than a web-hosting company that deals with technical domain issues and server problems.If you have a complex problem or have a support center that deals with highly technical matters, focusing on FCR may not apply. If that’s the case, focus on having highly trained, independent-thinking reps who can work efficiently to solve customer matters—even if it takes multiple calls. Your focus then will be on reducing the time or the number of calls until the issue is resolved.
- To measure FCR, you have to first define “fix.” When tracking metrics of any kind, you need to clearly define your tracking parameters. For FCR, what does “fix” a customers’ issue mean to you? Did you solve a URL issue, but still leave open other questions that need to be tackled? Define issues, problem by problem (or in a set of problems, as the case may be) before you set out to track and improve FCR rates. Additionally, you’ll need to define what “contact” means. Is e-mail a contact? Is a web-generated request a contact?
- It takes two to tango. When looking at FCR, you may find it hard to control your rates if you have a customer base with a low level of experience. Depending on your industry and product, your customer’s understanding of the product will affect how long it takes for the representative to resolve the issue. If you sell B2B technical equipment, your customer will likely have a base understanding of the product and may just need a little assistance. But if you are selling technical services to the B2C world, the learning curve may be steeper and the time to resolution longer.
- Technical skills of your representatives. The training you provide to your representatives can make a dramatic difference in your FCR rates—particularly if you have a technical service or product. Hopefully your management team understands that an investment in technical customer service training is well-worth it when considering the ramifications of low FCR rates.
- Self-service’s impact on FCR. More and more customers rely on web forums—and on your website—to help them resolve issues. This means that customers who would have called you previously (most likely with easier issues) are now figuring out answers themselves. Customers who do end up calling, therefore, are often those who couldn’t resolve the issue and present more complex problems that could be harder to resolve on the first call.
- Your representatives’ comfort level with internal tools. You may think that a hefty investment in a slick CRM system is just the ticket, but with any internal tools you have in place, make sure you train your reps thoroughly on how to use the tools at their disposal. If a representative is fumbling or taking a long time to figure out how to use a system, most likely, it will take longer (or not be possible) to solve a customer issue on the first try.
The lesson? Improve the factors you can control that help improve FCR
The above list is just a brief sample of the many barriers that companies face when confronting low FCR rates and undesirable CSAT scores. However, even if you have a very complex product, and even if you’re dealing with a customer base that comes to you with a lower-level of understanding, you can still offer stellar customer service and get your FCR rates as low as possible for your industry and product type. The key? Your customer service training program. When you choose to focus on the quality of service your representatives offer your customers, and the technical training your employees receive, you are likely to see a natural increase in your FCR rates, and your loyal customers will continue to reward you with business. Heavenly!