In Tom Clancy’s novel Clear and Present Danger the team expects to walk in, accomplish the mission and walk out. However, things are never so simple as to say “it’s been a piece of cake” and the same applies to customer issue resolutions.
From the customer’s perspective it is simple. They call or send an email and expect a satisfactory resolution of their issue. First call resolution does not happen which leads to dissatisfaction and customer churn. Typical scenarios:
- Customer’s call goes into the IVR rat maze and leaves the customer feeling frustrated.
- Should an agent pick up the phone he is likely to ask a lot of questions and then offer excuses without being able to resolve the issue, or fob off the customer because resolving the issue would entail expense for the business or for any other reason and the agent may think his work is done but customer remains unsatisfied.
- Agents may not have access to qualified personnel or data or have decision making and may simply tell the customer that they will check and call later, leaving the customer and his issue dangling in the air. This means agents have to maintain record and make it a point to pass on the issue to qualified decision makers and then contact the customer again, all of which add to costs and waste of energy.
- It may be something as simple as call center solution bottlenecks that prevent first call resolution leading to frustration for caller and for agent.
- It may be a company policy to avoid and evade rather than resolve at first call and then give in only if customer is too persistent.
Achieving first call resolution
For businesses it should be a policy to achieve first call resolution rather than leave issue resolution to the last when there is no way they can fob off customers. It is not so difficult to target this goal and achieve it. Numbers speak. Freshdesk survey finds that 1% improvement in first call resolution decreases annual operating costs by $ 276000 and leads to customer retention. Conversely, bad experience leads 66% of customers to shift business elsewhere. Respect customers and their time. 65% of customers say a poor experience is when it takes longer than usual or more than one call to resolve an issue and 67% customers say they would stick with the same company if service improves.
The right technologies
You need a modern call center solution with intelligent IVR, possibly one with conversational chatbot to take conversation up to a point before routing the call to the right agent who can resolve the caller’s issue by being knowledgeable, tactful and capable of taking decisions independently or by conferencing with a senior. You must have intelligent and smart skill mapping and call distribution in your call center solution. Incorporate WebRTC for delightful face to face video interaction and video, by the way, helps agents give a product demo during the ongoing video call.
The function of agents handling customer service is not to act as breakers and fob them off but to understand what is needed, deliver the right information and take action to resolve the issue during the first call. This requires agents to be trained on the products you sell, possible service queries and how to handle them. If an agent considers the customer as “my customer” and not “the company’s customer” the whole approach changes. They become more involved in resolving issues.
Just people skills are not sufficient. Agents must be up to date with products they handle and be able to understand what the customer is talking about, divine what problems there could be and offer solutions that bring an end to the problem. Agents need training and also access to on-screen information during the call besides being able to conference with a technical person should it be needed, during the ongoing call so as to clear the problem on first call.
How do you know issue is resolved during the first call?
Agents may like to assume that the call is resolved when it is ended. Not so. The agent’s non-responsive and non-resolving approach could make callers fed up and then they terminate the call. This certainly cannot be termed as a call resolved. The best way to know if customer is happy is to ask them at the end of the conversation and be specific. Some businesses do initiate an IVR survey to gather data immediately. This is a good practice to adopt. Why so? It is simple, Satisfy existing customers and they will buy again. About 70% is the figure of increased sales opportunities to existing ones. 80% of profits, it is found, arrive from 20% of existing customers.
First call resolution is desirable not only to delight existing customers and keep agents positively enthused but also from the cost perspective. Just 15% increase in first call resolution leads to major cost reductions, time spent on customer reductions and efforts of agents who can increase productivity. Your business performance shoots up by 30%.
Intelligent data analytics
You train agents, empower them with knowledge and get top of the line call center solution to achieve first call resolution to the max. Still, you will need to know what is going on in order to improve. The call center solution plays a key role through its intelligent data analytics module. You can keep track of live conversation and jump in or get a qualified employee to join the call to hit the first call resolution target. You can analyze call records to know for sure the why and what of success or failure on each call. Not all customers are reasonable and some issues do not get resolved because, as the saying goes, the customer is not always right. Still, intelligent analytics does go a long way to smarten up the entire first call resolution process.
90% of customers expect immediate and fast resolution during the first call. Aim for it and it becomes a win-win for everyone: business, employees and customers.