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Simple actions that will increase your First Call Resolution with drastic results


First call resolution is an essential metric for any contact centre for two very simple reasons. Firstly it drives customer satisfaction and secondly, it reduces operating costs. In todays, challenging economic and competitive environment, customer retention is as important as attracting new customers.

So what is first call resolution? To the customer it means that their question has been answered or issue resolved without the Ping-Pong effect. In my experience three of the most common causes of repeat calls include: Agents lack the authority to solve problems, Agents provide unclear or incorrect information and poorly designed IVRs.

So how do you overcome these causes? There are some very simple actions that can help increase first call resolution, which we have experienced firsthand with our clients and our own business.

Agents lack the authority to solve problems

In many cases, call backs result in the fact that agents are not given the authority to deal with very basic issues that encompass most of their daily enquiries. This causes customers to be transferred multiple times and ultimately results in customer dissatisfaction. I’m not saying, agents need to be given free reign. Naturally every company has to mitigate risk and abuse, so how do you empower agents without risk and ensure first call resolution?

  • Move away from scripted environments, allow your agents to build natural rapport. The last thing an irate customer wants is to speak to a robot.
  •  Equip your agents with the correct training, including call control techniques. We have built specific training around first call resolution, which we customise for each client to empower our agents. It is worth the investment, when you see the results.
  • Make sure your agents have all the tools they need to get their job done – if you expect an agent to resolve a customer’s issue, they need the right information and equipment to do so
  • Last, but certainly not least, grant the appropriate level of authority to your agents so that they can handle the type of calls they receive. Often this means, empowering agents to make small concessions within set parameters. The impact to your customer experience can be astronomical.

Agents provide unclear or incorrect information

We have all had that experience, when you call a contact centre and the agent gives you information that is ambiguous and contradictory. I am sure you have also, like me, called a contact centre and the agent puts you on hold for an excessive amount of time, in order to find information. The worst for me is when something is advertised and I call a contact centre and the agent just isn’t aware of it. Every one of these scenarios will either cause a call back, a transfer or a lost customer. So how can you address this?

  • Train! Train! Train! – Invest in refresher training and product update training etc. It can mean the difference between first call resolution and one of the catastrophes described above
  • Ensure agents have access to all required information in advance – don’t publish something before your contact centre is aware of it. This is a recipe for disaster.
  • Empower agents with a knowledge base that is quick and easy to access and make sure they know how to access all the information necessary to complete customer interactions
  • Get feedback from your agents on ways to improve first call resolution – you will be surprised at the results. Your agents deal with your customers’ every day, they have already thought of a million ways to improve your customer experience. All you need to do is ask, and you will receive a wealth of expertise
  • Again – scripts can be useful to a point. Agents need to be able to problem solve and this cannot be done with a script. Problem solving needs to be part of your hiring criteria, your training, your culture and your customer service methodology

Poorly designed IVRs

There is so much research out there that shows while IVR’s are central to any contact centre, a poorly designed IVR can not only impact first call resolution, but also effect customer retention which significantly impacts any companies bottom-line. So what can you do about it?

  • Get your customers to the right place from the start. Nothing will cause an unnecessary transfer more quickly than a bad IVR implementation
  • Customers should get to where they need to be simply and within a maximum of two or three selections. By the third selection your customer wants to speak to an agent.
  • Design your IVR based on your customer’s needs – not your own. When you base your IVR on customer goals instead of business goals, you are positioning yourself with first call resolution in mind
  • Plan for happy customers and not only reducing costs. (In the long run you will reduce costs as a result)

So if you are looking at ways to improve your first call resolution, try some of these tips, I am sure you will experience the same drastic results some of our clients have.

Author: Ingo Schulz | 25 November 2015
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