There are many solutions on how to improve the first contact resolution (FCR) rate. Before you can start making improvements you need to know the current situation. What is your current contact resolution rate and first contact resolution rate? Understand what your contact points are and how you measure the contact resolution rate inside these channels.
These channels can be phone, email, chat, or even WhatsApp surveys. If you do not measure your channels, your overall insight could get skewed. In this scenario, you will be making decisions with only a partial amount of information. In this blog, we go through possible solutions to improve your first contact resolution (FCR) rate over the coming year. Every solution has pros & cons so we want to bring up all the aspects.
If you are new to first contact resolution and want to learn more about it, check out our previous blog The benefits of improving First Contact Resolution rates.
Table of contents
- More first contact resolution data – The agent can decide when the issue is resolved
- Balance average handle time to match team goals
- Intelligent skill-based routing for the best service
- Take first contact resolution to agent level and train accordingly
- Self-service knowledge base and chatbot to help your team!
- Communication Styles for different customers
- Looking for more? Check out these insights!
1. More first contact resolution data – The agent can decide when the issue is resolved
When is the customer issue resolved and who is making that decision? The customer always makes the last call but it is not always easy to gather the answers from customers. In some companies, the customer service agent will make the decision. The agent will go through the problem with the customer and mark the issue resolved.
Pros: Easy way to ramp up data on how issues are being resolved. You can build up your first contact resolution’s current state quickly by making the agent decide if the problem was resolved.
Cons: There is a risk that issues are being marked too lightly as resolved. The contact resolution rate is then seen as higher than it is. For example, there can be noticeable differences between external and internal first contact resolution. Internal first contact resolution rate is determined by not receiving repeat calls in a certain timeframe. Usually, it can be 10-20% higher than the external FCR rate. This can lead to a bloated first contact resolution metric that does not attract attention for improvement.
You need to identify the repeating contacts and where they are originating. Understand repeat contacts and spot the weakest agents. After that, it is easier to train your agents to improve efficiency.
2. Balance average handle time to match team goals
Increasing the average handle time can provide remarkable results. But it is not all black and white. Some see that handle time increase goes hand in hand with costs. Every contact can cost you a certain amount based on the handling time, which is true. The usual average handle time for contact is approximately 6 minutes or 360 seconds. The company might have a performance target to decrease handle time. This is easy to explain to the executive board as cost savings.
This argument usually excludes repeat contacts. Agents might work in a hurry and steer the conversation in the wrong direction. When agents try too much to decrease the handle time, this can backfire as an increase in repeat contacts which means a decrease in your first contact resolution rate.
Giving agents more time to handle the individual customers can be the solution. More time to ask the right questions and therefore bring a pinch of empathy to the conversation. Customer issues can get resolved on the first attempt and no need for unnecessary actions. Sometimes it is good to invest in a strong customer conversation. It will increase the customer experience in the longer run. The shortest possible handling time should not be the only target and can cause agent attrition.
By monitoring data, you can find clear signs of agent attrition.
- Have certain agents received many negative scores from customers in a row?
- How have they answered internal surveys?
- What are their training needs?
- What is their general attitude towards the job?
You can see agent attrition insights from your customer service data. By combining performance & quality you can get direct insights into when to take action before it’s too late.
Pros: Decrease repeat contacts and agents will have more quality time with the customers. Finding the sweet spot is the road to success.
Cons: Taking too much time per contact will increase costs. Handling contacts too fast will increase costs by increasing repeat contacts.
3. Intelligent skill-based routing for the best service
Assigning contacts to the next available agent is not the best practice. With intelligent skill-based routing, you can route contacts to the best-suited agent. If one agent succeeds with order requests, route more contacts related to those issues to them. For instance, you can build your customer service team to fit these different topics. Make your team a powerhouse of excellence!
Pros: Take the issues to someone who specializes in resolving them.
Cons: When there are generalist agents – everyone can handle every customer contact. But in Intelligent skill-based routing, it is challenging when your experts are sick. Usually, there are no substitutes when someone is missing and make a noticeable dent in the CX.
4. Take first contact resolution to agent level and train accordingly
Zendesk CX Trends 2022 states that agents need manageable workloads, respect, better performance metrics, clear advantage opportunities, and most importantly – training. Based on Zendesk’s research only 20% of agents are extremely satisfied with the quality of their training. Only 17% are extremely satisfied with the frequency of their training. As you can see, there is room for improvement and how this can affect the overall first contact resolution rate.
For example, Peter is better at handling customer orders. Meanwhile, Mary can handle tech-savvy product issues with ease. One way to start looking for improvements is to understand which agents need training in what subjects. Can you break down the first contact resolution with individual agents? If yes, you can see where the FCR is lowest. You can go even further by understanding which service topics are most challenging per agent. Train these agents and you can see improvement in the overall FCR.
You are probably wondering, how to train these individual agents with low first contact resolution numbers? In short, the answer is on the other side of the table. See which agents have high FCR numbers, use them as coaches and gather best practices to uplift the FCR. In the end, the best way to increase the quality of customer service is to train the weakest agents.
Pros: Lead your customer service by insights and look at the training needs from the data. Train agents with a low first contact resolution rate and use the best practices for agents who have a high FCR rate.
Cons: It depends on the agent how personally they will take it when the manager states that “you need help with this”. It might scare some and it’s human nature. Communicate the training target clearly with the agent. This way they understand the bigger picture and see benefits for all the parties.
5. Self-service knowledge base and chatbot to help your team
Some companies use a self-service knowledge base to troubleshoot specific issues. That way customers might not even contact customer support. In general, chatbots and a knowledge base decrease ticket volume. This can also help with repeat contacts. One rule of thumb is to gather insights about why the repeat contacts are generating. Expand the self-service knowledge page to answer these questions.
In addition, You can take this knowledge to chatbot conversations. Firstly, chatbots can easily direct the customer to the right knowledge base page based on the issue. Secondly, offer customers many routes to figure out the problem. To summarize, you can decrease the repeat contacts and increase first contact resolution.
All contacts to the customer service mean new tickets. Check out our 6 tips for overcoming high ticket volumes in customer service. Learn more about what this means for hiring, product development and others.
Pros: This is a high-level solution in general. With a knowledge base and chatbot, you can lower the number of contacts. A chatbot can guide users to the right content in the knowledge base.
Cons: If you do not yet have a knowledge base and a chatbot, this can be seen as a hefty solution. You don’t have to have all the data ready at the start. To sum up, you can start with base-level information and update the content whenever needed.
Gartner’s The Customer Service Experience from 2022 states it’s a myth that customers seek out and trust customer service channels above all else. In reality, customers try thorough searches and non-company-owned channels. They are seeking to resolve their issues and customer service can be their last action. The key is that they are seeking the resolution themselves. Ask users if they tried to find the answer from somewhere else before contacting customer service.
6. Communication styles for different customers
Based on Zendesk’s article, understanding communication styles can help you improve your relationships with customers & colleagues. However, You must know how to communicate with different kinds of people.
There are five different communication styles: assertive, aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive, and manipulative. The most effective and healthy communication style for the professional setting is assertive. They are commonly polite, direct and honest. They do not only communicate but master at listening as well.
There are two sides in the conversation: customer service agent and customer. It is crucial to understand what style is customer using and what style the agent should use when responding. The key is to get the issue resolved.
There are many ways to view these communication styles. SQM states there are styles like Analyzer, Driver, Supporter, and Influencer. Match these styles and create a stronger connection between customer and agent. Eventually this will boost the quality and performance of the experience.
Pros: We like personas who use the same styles in communication. In other words, problems tend to get solved when using empathy and the right kind of communication. This will lead to better experiences and improvements in first contact resolution.
Cons: This can backfire if overthought. Communication should still come naturally. If agents are overthinking what styles to use it can feel artificial and disturb the customer experience.
7. Looking for more? Check out these insights!
Do you want to know ten feedback insights for customer service management? Check out our blog ABC of data-driven customer service management and discover ten feedback insights that help customer service managers make informed decisions to improve a) the customer experience and b) the employee experience using the NPS as the example metric.
We’re sure you got this, and remember that we are here to help! Want to learn more about how we make customer support insights work for you?
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