Getting it right first time
First Contact Resolution is a key metric for customer service teams. After all if you can satisfactorily deal with an incoming query or complaint quickly, without needing to follow up then it benefits everyone. The customer is happy as they have their answer and don’t need to escalate their query while the contact centre can close the file without needing to call back, delivering an efficient service that reduces costs without compromising quality. Of course not every query can be resolved on a first contact – many are too complex or require too much research to provide an immediate, straightforward answer.
However in the past high First Contact Resolution rates have been relatively easy to achieve – as there were a relatively small number of channels for the contact centre to monitor. Phone queries needed answering in real-time while emails could be responded to within a specified timeframe.
This has all changed with the rise of social media and mobile technology. There’s now a real diversity of first contact channels – many of which have a much higher volume of incoming queries than ever before. Leading brands are seeing Facebook traffic exceed hits on their website by a factor of 10, while smartphones make it simple to tweet, call or email wherever you are. The risk is that organisations can treat all of these new channels as independent silos, disconnected from the main customer contact centre and under the control of different departments, such as marketing in the case of social media.
So with increasingly demanding customers spread across more and more channels how can companies keep First Contact Resolution rates high? In Eptica’s experience there are five key areas that organisations need to look at:
1 Single source of information
A silo based approach doesn’t just create additional cost, but drives inconsistency in how you respond. You need a single source of information that is stored centrally and can be accessed by staff working across multiple channels – and is also made available through web and Facebook self-service to help customers to help themselves.
2 Provide the channels customers want to use
Don’t force customers down particular channels – let them choose how they contact you. Depending on their need and inclination they may want to use a mix of channels, so make sure you have a single view of the customer across multiple touchpoints. That way you can access contact history and factor that into your response. Nothing annoys customers more than having to repeat themselves if they change channels.
3 Get the best person to respond
Customer service is the role of the entire organisation, not just the contact centre. In many cases (such as complex consumer electronics) the best person to answer a query may be within a completely separate department, so make sure you have the ability to automatically forward questions to the right person – along with the monitoring to ensure that they respond quickly and accurately.
4 Learn from your customers
Knowledge doesn’t stand still so once you have created your single source of information then keep it updated. Choose a centralised knowledgebase that is self-learning, using every interaction with customers and agents to fine tune answers so that queries get the right response every time.
5 Integrate with the business
In the same way as you need to keep responses consistent, First Contact Resolution needs to integrate with the rest of your business systems. Link it with customer databases, CRM software and other business systems to provide a holistic view of your customer that enables you to deliver a personalised service that fits with their needs.
With even more channels set to emerge over the coming years and ever increasing numbers of incoming queries, delivering effective First Contact Resolution will become yet more critical to successful organisations. Otherwise the deluge of escalated queries will multiply, threatening to submerge contact centres in unanswered questions, upsetting customers, adding to costs and ultimately damaging your brand.