The best customer experience
strategy is increasing quality.
Your customers want their needs met. It’s as simple as that. That will drive satisfaction, decrease the risk of loyalty loss and increase the customer experience scores more than exceeding a customer’s expectations.
As an effect of increased digitalization, self-service tools and in general a better understanding for the customer’s needs (most order their plane tickets online and not with a physical agent), the complexity of problems that customers can’t solve by themselves, is much greater than before. This development means that many organizations are unable to solve a customer’s problem in the initial contact when reaching out to a live agent.
This article describes why increasing quality and case resolution (as well as pre-empting downstream contacts) leads to substantial positive effect on any organizations bottom line and still is the biggest factor for a customer when scoring their customer experience.
Solve the entire issue.
First Contact Resolution is a popular metric used throughout the contact center industry. It’s simply whether the customer’s issue was fully resolved in the initial contact (regardless of channel type e.g. phone, e-mail, chat etc.).
There is however a significant difference whether you measure if the company means it’s resolved (internal First Contact Resolution rate), or if the customer perceives/feels the issue is resolved (external First Contact Resolution rate). Most companies measure the internal resolution rate, but don’t ask their customers how they experienced it. In this article – we’ll discuss the external FCR which significantly affects the number of contacts that your contact center will receive (your volume) throughout all your channels.
The impact on volume by increasing First Contact Resolution
The internal FCR is globally measured somewhere around 70% – which means that 30% of the customers will contact you again through the same or different channels. The external FCR is by several studies from well reputed research institutes ranging between 32-45%. That means that somewhere between 55-68% of the total contact volume globally is completely unnecessary and could have been addressed in the initial contact.
Considering that the staffing costs (and other associated costs e.g. office, management, software licenses etc.) is 80-85% of the entire cost volume it suggests that (at least on a theoretical level) that you can cut between 44 – 57% of your entire cost volume if you increase your external FCR to 100%.
Going from theory into actual implementation/change – the results (in our customer cases) are within 90% of the theoretical estimation.
Why Case Resolution is dependent of the dialogue’s quality
It might sound like common sense, but high-quality customer service is just to meet the current and short-term needs of a customer. It can range from securing a payment plan (if the customer can’t pay) to changing the shipping address of a product. If the need is resolved, the customer will in most cases be satisfied. To do this, the quality of the actual customer dialogue is critical considering that it’s not the resolution itself that reduces contact volumes – it’s if the customer believes/feels that it’s been resolved (it’s still of course important to actually resolve it) and trusts the agent. This will mainly be decided on how the resolution is delivered (the way an agent communicates with your customer).
If you break down the different issues that arise within your offering there are four different steps that need to be fulfilled for the agent to theoretically and practically be able to resolve the issue.
- Knowledge – does the agent have the theoretical training to resolve all steps of the case?
- Empowerment – is the agent allowed to resolve all steps of the case?
- Skillset & tools – is it possible to resolve all steps of the case within the first contact?
- Execution – is the agent assigned/directed to do it?
Surprisingly, in many organizations (especially larger ones), the majority of cases handled fail in one or more of the above common-sense steps.
At the end – quality is the sum of how well all steps are performed in each dialogue.
Preventing downstream issues.
A downstream issue is a problem/question that arises as a natural part of the products or service complexity but can be foreseen and prevented by minimal effort in the initial contact. It’s about creating customer question flows based on common sense and figuring out corresponding actions by using common sense logic.
Example: If you’ve purchased clothes with your credit card online and you want to return the order you might need to contact the customer service department for clear instructions. Then it will be a logistical question (how do I send it back and how should I package it). But there will also be a payment question that might arise downstream (when will you refund my money?). This is usually not within the control of the store but the credit card providers different policies and routines. If the agent is aware of the major credit card companies refund routines they can inform the customer of this and thus preventing a potential contact.
This is how customer insights and deep process/product knowledge can prevent unnecessary interactions.
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