January 20, 2012

New Year's Resolution - - First Call Resolution! A Multi-Year Look at the Magic Metric

One of the most watched metrics in our industry is First Call Resolution, i.e. the percentage of caller inquiries that are resolved on the first contact and do not require further follow-up. I call it the "magic metric" because it is both a direct performance measure and a divining rod into what is working (or not) in the center. 

As a direct measure, it captures both efficiency and effectiveness performance:

Efficiency (or cost control): The more issues that are resolved on the first contact, the fewer the number of contacts overall and the lower the cost to resolve the issue. Bringing up the FCR by a few percentage points can be translated into a financial calculation that your CFO will find very compelling. We have helped many managers calculate the impact of better First Call Resolution, and would be happy to help you with this as well.

Effectiveness (or quality): Customers love "one-and-done" inquiries. They feel gratified when their issue is resolved without having to be in contact multiple times. Therefore, there is a positive correlation between FCR and caller satisfaction.

It should be clear why I call this the "magic metric". When improvement brings you lower costs and higher caller satisfaction, you are really pulling the rabbit out of the hat for your call center and adding great value.

However, what do I mean by a "divining rod" for the center? Well, FCR that is below your industry average is often a symptom of process and technology issues in the center. Performing proper discovery can uncover improvement initiatives that will really make a difference in your center.

For example, a relatively low FCR (when compared with other centers in your industry) can be an indication of any of the following:

Processes:Hiring. Sometimes we simply don't have the right people in the seats. We have all seen these situations. Not all centers take the care they should to properly recruit, screen, interview and hire the best people to meet the needs of the customer. Hiring happens way before the agent gets on the phone; however hiring with care increases the chance that phone interactions will be successful - - the first time.

Training. Both initial training and ongoing training are important to be sure that an agent will be able to handle and complete inquiries on the first go-around. 

Coaching. A prime purpose of coaching should be to assist the agent in leveraging training, technology and listening skills to make sure the caller is served and satisfied fully on each interaction.

Technology:Routing. It is remarkable how many systems are not optimized to route calls properly. A close look at your IVR and routing routines can surface important areas for improvement.

Knowledge Management Systems. When agents know that they have a KM system that allows them to find correct answers quickly, they feel empowered to take care of the inquiry on the spot, without having to transfer to an expert of to call the customer back later. A good KM system pays for itself in multiples.

I have seen many situations in which a careful evaluation of FCR has led to important changes in processes and technology which, in turn, have led to impressive improvements in call resolution. The easily calculable financial impact means that investments frequently have a very high ROI, and thus can garner senior management approval.

If you would like to talk more about FCR analysis and improvement, feel free to contact us at Info@BenchmarkPortal.com or at http://www.BenchmarkPortal.com

Bruce Belfiore
CEO & Senior Research Executive

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