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Long live the (First Call) resolution - Formation - Creative Technology Solutions
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Long live the (First Call) resolution

Are your average call handling times going up?

If so, congratulations. This could be great news. Seriously!

Let’s explain. Historically, customer service experts have held up low average call handling (ACH) as the best indicator of an effective call centre operation. The shorter the call, the better for the caller and the enterprise.

Obvious, right? Maybe not. Maybe there’s a much better measure: first call resolution.

FCR is a metric that asks a pretty straightforward question: can an agent resolve a customer issue the first time the customer gets in touch?

This matters. Why? Because evidence suggests that callers would rather have one long conversation with an informed agent, than make multiple calls to less qualified colleagues.

What matters is resolving the issue first time. Indeed, a study by Telus said customer satisfaction ratings can be up to 45 per cent lower when customers have to make a second call on the same query.

The above percentages look bad, and the impact expensive. But actually, this issue is about more than ROI. It’s really about mindset.

The company that prioritises average call handling times is putting its own needs above those of its customers. It’s saying to its agents: get the caller off the line as fast as possible.

And agents will act accordingly. They will cut off or transfer customers with more complex issues to solve. Who can blame them, when their incentive structure is set up that way?

So switching over to a new approach – one geared towards first call resolution however long it takes – requires a switch in mindset.

It’s a cultural issue. It’s certainly not a technical one.

Today’s contact centre systems have all the features needed to help an enterprise prioritise FCR. Above all, they support skills-based routing. Here, the software itself will examine the caller’s credentials before directing them to the most appropriate agent.

And how does it acquire these credentials? Well, the system will let the business divide customers into groups by a variety of attributes. This could be demographics (age, location, gender, average income, education, interests, etc.), or by the product they are using.

The enterprise can go deeper and even associate callers with typical sales scenarios, support requests and reasons why they call the company.

Of course, the call centre software will not only categorise customers. It will also assign tabs to agents based on criteria such as:

  • Department (technical support, sales, marketing, billing etc)
  • Skills
  • Product knowledge
  • Language spoken/accent
  • Demographics
  • Location

In all cases, once the call is directed, the agent will have a dashboard showing the customer’s details and history of previous queries.

With all these attributes in place, the software can easily route a caller to the most appropriate agent, and improve the chances of a successful outcome in one session.

Even better, the system is self-improving. Post call, it can update the customer’s activity logs so that handling the next query is even smoother.

To be clear, FCR is not especially new. Neither is skills-based routing. But, here at Formation, we’ve found that many organisations still overlook them. Why? Because they are fixated on the older metric of call handling time.

Are you one of these companies? If so, it might be time to switch your thinking. You will be surprised and delighted with the results. And with a cloud-based option – of the sort we offer – you can have a fully-featured call centre solution for one fixed monthly cost.

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