Providing exceptional customer service is crucial for contact centers to drive loyalty, satisfaction, and growth. One of the most important service metrics is First Call Resolution (FCR) – the percentage of inquiries resolved during the initial contact.
High FCR rates have tremendous benefits:
- Increased customer satisfaction from issues being fixed quickly
- Reduced operational costs by lowering repeat contacts
- Higher productivity as agents can handle more cases
- Better customer experiences and brand reputation
However, many contact centers grapple with low FCR rates. This article will explore 6 proven strategies to significantly increase first call resolution across your team.
Why First Call Resolution Matters
Resolving customer inquiries on the first interaction is table stakes for delivering great service in today’s experience-driven era. High first call resolution:
- Shows customers their time is valued by fixing issues quickly
- Creates more seamless, efficient service interactions
- Reduces handle times and call volumes as repeat contacts drop
- Drives higher satisfaction scores based on resolving cases faster
- Decreases costs since follow-up calls require additional time
Conversely, low FCR leads to poor experiences like getting bounced around departments, repeating information, and drawn-out case resolution.
Benchmark data shows world-class service teams resolve over 80% of inquiries on first contact. Is your center near that threshold? If not, the strategies below can help you achieve FCR excellence.
1. Hire for Soft Skills
Your agents are on the frontlines of achieving first call resolution. That’s why it’s crucial to hire candidates possessing the soft skills that make great service reps. Key traits to look for include:
Can they converse clearly, listen attentively, and explain complex information understandably? Strong verbal and written skills are essential.
Do they stay calm and composed when dealing with frustrated customers? Patient agents are better at de-escalating tense situations.
Are they adept at digging into issues to uncover solutions? Agents need to investigate and think critically to resolve difficult cases.
Do they pick up new software tools and technology quickly? Tech literacy helps agents utilize systems proficiently to find answers.
Do they demonstrate passion for learning your products/services inside and out? Intimate understanding is key for resolving many queries.
Assessing candidates for these attributes during hiring, such as through behavioral interviews, results in agents who excel at first call resolution.
2. Prioritize Ongoing Agent Training
Hiring is just the first step. To truly gain mastery, agents need extensive training in areas like:
Comprehensive new hire product training gives agents deep knowledge of offerings, features, policies, and technical aspects. Ongoing training then keeps skills updated as offerings evolve.
Training on empathy, active listening, clear explanations, and defusing tension hones the soft skills needed to resolve issues. Role playing with feedback helps agents master these competencies.
Addressing Difficult Situations
Scenarios training equips agents to handle delicate cases like claims denials, upset customers, and indecisive buyers who need guidance in making choices. Knowing how to navigate tricky situations prevents repeat calls.
As the face of your brand, agents must turn frustrated customers into satisfied ones. Conflict resolution training teaches steps to diffuse anger and rebuild trust through empathy and active listening.
A strong initial training program combined with regular refreshers and skills development gives agents the capabilities to resolve more inquiries the first time.
3. Monitor Performance and Identify Improvement Opportunities
Tracking first call resolution rates at the agent level provides insights on opportunities for improvement. Analyze interactions to:
Identify Top Performers
Determine what enables your most successful agents to consistently resolve cases swiftly. Get their tips and spotlight their practices for others to learn from.
Coach Struggling Agents
Work individually with low FCR agents to diagnose gaps, improve skills, and achieve targets through coaching, mentoring, and monitoring.
Understand Failure Points
Look for patterns where certain inquiry types lead to repeat contacts. Develop training to strengthen resolution skills in these areas.
Set Achievable Targets
Ensure FCR targets are realistic based on complexity of cases. Adjust goals as needed and recognize agents who hit ambitious targets.
4. Promote Knowledge Sharing
Equipping all agents with collective knowledge expedites first call resolution. Facilitate expertise sharing by:
Encouraging Tips Sharing
Set up mechanisms for agents to easily share resolution tips and product expertise with teammates to multiply knowledge across the group.
Creating Knowledge Bases
Central repositories with search make it easy to find resolution information fast. Agents can contribute insights to build a comprehensive knowledge base over time.
Pair junior agents with veterans to transfer know-how through mentorship. Document the wisdom shared and make it accessible to all.
Conducting Product Trainings
Subject matter experts and star agents can run refresher trainings on new offerings and complex product topics to get all reps up to speed.
Collaborative learning ensures agents have strong foundational knowledge and quick access to deep expertise needed to resolve various customer issues.
5. Utilize Customer Service Technology
Powerful technology provides agents with added capabilities to resolve inquiries swiftly. Useful innovations include:
Conversational AI Chatbots
Bots automatically resolve routine inquiries like order status lookups, account changes, and FAQs to deflect simple cases away from agents. But ensure seamless handoff to human reps when needed.
Agent Assist Tools
Solutions like searchable knowledge bases and article suggestion engines serve up relevant information to help agents resolve cases. This reduces research time.
Customer History Database
Unified, easy to search customer records give agents fast access to historical interactions and insights to personalize resolutions.
Visual Engagement Tools
Capabilities like co-browsing, screen sharing, and image sharing improve visual communication between agents and customers to fix issues quicker.
The right mix of technology empowers agents to resolve more inquiries during the initial contact by providing quick access to information, expertise, and capabilities.
6. Implement Visual Engagement Tools
Of particular impact are visual engagement tools that enable agents to see and interact with customers’ screens in real time during calls and chats. This is invaluable for first call resolution because it:
- Allows agents to visually verify issues rather than rely on descriptions
- Enables guiding customers through processes step-by-step to fix problems
- Facilitates filling out forms and making updates collaboratively
- Improves understanding through visuals rather than just speech
- Reduces misunderstandings that lead to repeat contacts or escalations
Specifically, solutions like co-browsing, screen sharing, and document sharing create visual, two-way experiences optimal for faster issue resolution.
Leading contact centers equip agents with visual engagement software from purpose-built vendors like Grypp to maximize first call resolution rates.
Achieve First Contact Resolution Excellence
To recap, six impactful strategies for improving first call resolution include:
- Hiring for soft skills like communication and problem-solving
- Prioritizing extensive, ongoing agent training
- Monitoring performance to identify coaching opportunities
- Promoting knowledge sharing practices
- Utilizing customer service technologies
- Implementing visual engagement tools
Elevating first call resolution creates seamless customer experiences, reduces operational costs, and demonstrates service excellence.
By following these best practices, your contact center can attain FCR greatness.
Let’s chat about how we can help you implement strategies tailored to your operations for superior first call resolution. Our team has hands-on experience helping contact centers boost key metrics like FCR. We’re ready to partner with you on this mission.