Unlocking the code to first call resolution

Customer expectations are high, patience is thin, and budgets are being reduced. But despite these challenges, companies are consistently expected to deliver excellent customer service, and the pressure on the call center is particularly high. In the kick-off to a new blog series, Chris Caile explores the importance of first call resolution and why it’s so critical in improving the call center experience.
By solving customer issues on the first attempt, businesses can improve the call center experience and reduce costs.

“I just want it done!” That’s typically the thought most people have when calling a company to address a product or service issue. I feel the same way. We don’t want to call back a second, third, or fourth time. Customers want fast, intelligent customer service, and companies that help customers resolve their issues quickly have been shown to have higher overall satisfaction.

7.18 blog 1But in today’s new era of customer service when expectations are higher than ever, companies must achieve the seemingly impossible—improve the caller experience while simultaneously reducing costs. One key call center metric, first call resolution (FCR), provides a clear window into how to achieve this—by properly addressing a customer’s need the first time they call. It’s become so important that first call resolution was ranked as the #2 metric in a Call Center Helper survey.




So why exactly is FCR so important? FCR is a critical metric because it impacts two major goals of a call center manager:

1. Cost: Consider that each time a call center agent has to take a live call it costs the company about $5 on average. If you also add up all the times someone can’t resolve their issue through automation, it gets expensive. Dr. Jodie Monger, the president of Customer Relationship Metrics, conducted research to understand the impact of repeat calls on customer service organizations, and found it can be as high as almost $3M per year.

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2. Customer Satisfaction: It makes perfect sense and doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this out. Each additional time someone has to call back, they won’t be happy and it will cost your company more money to manage. Elementary!

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But what’s the cause of poor FCR? While there are many factors that contribute to overall first call success or failure, here are the biggest drivers of poor FCR rates:

  • Long hold times – sure you think the music is great but who wants to wait that long?
  • Confusing IVR Menus – if your caller can’t figure out the menu tree, chances are they’ll be misrouted to the wrong department and the call won’t be resolved on the first attempt.
  • IVR doesn’t understand caller – Poor speech recognition will prompt someone to say “Agent” every time.
  • High agent turnover – Less experienced agents mean less valuable expertise and more un-resolved issues.
  • Lack of information access – If you make simple information available to a caller right in the IVR – like billing info, outage updates, current balances – chance are they will resolve the issue and be on their way.
  • Lack of a multi-channel strategy – Your web site says one thing, your IVR another. Callers engage from multiple touch-points. But are those channels seamlessly connected?

If any of these sound familiar, then your company is likely ready to reap significant cost savings and improvements in customer satisfaction by undertaking a first call resolution improvement initiative. Over the next several weeks this blog series will explore proven strategies and initiatives to both determine your current FCR and outline steps for improvement. Stay tuned.

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Chris Caile

About Chris Caile

Chris Caile joined Nuance in September 2015 as senior solutions marketing manager for Nuance Conversational IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Before joining Nuance, Caile worked in various marketing and sales support positions at Microsoft and Motorola and has over 20 years of experience in the high tech industry. Caile holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Illinois State University with minors in mathematics and economics.