Is First Call Resolution the Top Agenda?

By Gary Schwartz

Some might argue that First Call Resolution (FCR) should be at the top of the agenda in the call center environment, but traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are not always the best way to measure customer experience excellence.

Historically, call center metrics have looked at average call handling time and their associated costs. They have focused on metrics that are easy to capture, such as call abandonment rates and the amount of time it takes to answer a call. These metrics are expected to provide information about levels of customer satisfaction, but FCR – determining whether a customer’s problem was resolved on the first call – is not conclusive.

Call centers that handle a large number of fast and simple queries (such as directory inquiries), could, in theory, measure satisfaction by using FCR, but it is not suitable for more complex calls, when resolution is often dependent on actions that take place after the call (for example, sending a customer a new checkbook).

Transferring a call to another call handler outside the center does not mean that the customer regards their query as resolved. What the company considers resolution may not be considered resolution for the customer.

A large British retail bank nearly made the mistake of assuming it knew what its customers’ priorities were and was prepared to focus on reducing the time it took for a customer to reach a live person. Fortunately, they asked their customers first and learned that their customers didn’t care that much how long they had to wait in a call queue as long as their problem was resolved on that call.  This led to a feedback program in which the very first question measures the customers’ views on call resolution.

Given that it is becoming increasingly important to view the world from the customers’ perspective, the only real way to find out if an inquiry was resolved the first time around is to ask the customer directly. Companies should be measuring what is important to the customer if they want to track customer satisfaction and identify agents, processes, or policies that make a real difference to customer experience.

Measuring customer attitude is the best way to find out if a customer is satisfied or dissatisfied. Responding to customer feedback and resolving issues quickly and thoroughly after each interaction – even if this takes more than one call – is the only way to improve customer loyalty and improve customer retention rates.

Gary Schwartz is senior vice president of marketing at Confirmit, which provides software for organizations to conduct customer feedback, employee feedback, and market research applications. Gary develops the applications used for Confirmit’s online survey, analysis, and reporting platform, while also leading product development.

[From Connection Magazine September 2010]

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