Working in a call center is probably one of the most demanding (and stressful) jobs out there. We wanted to shed some light on the #callcenterlife and provide experience-based advice that makes it easier for businesses to run successful call centers – like knowing how to nail First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR).
That’s why we’re excited to welcome you to Klaus Call Center Stories, a brand-new article series dedicated to the teams whose daily job is handling companies’ incoming support calls.
These articles are based on the interviews with Ahmad Baydoun, Contact Center Manager at a leading customer experience management company with 10+ years of experience in working, growing, and managing call center teams. Our first article focuses on the First Contact Resolution Rate, aka FCR – the customer service metric that Ahmad sees as one of the most important KPIs to track in every company.
“First contact resolution is a dynamo for customer satisfaction – if you hit it correctly, it affects other KPIs like CSAT.” Ahmad Baydoun
In the coming articles, we focus on topics like the differences between operations and quality teams when doing support QA, how to become a data-driven customer service team, how to set up QA in contact centers, and how to introduce quality reviews to your team. Stay tuned for the next articles.
Let’s get going with the first piece in the series, the three most important steps to improve FCR in your contact center, as shared by Ahmad Baydoun.
#1 Understand your customers’ perspective
The key to nailing FCR is understanding what the customer’s problem really is. As soon as the agent can understand the issue, they are (most probably) immediately able to offer a solution.
However, that’s where the trickiest part is hiding. Customers have very different ways of expressing their concerns: they don’t always know how to explain what has happened or what they’re trying to achieve.
‘My computer is not working,’ or ‘I can’t open the program’ – does that sound familiar? It probably does, because that’s how many customers see these situations from their perspective. Unfortunately, this information is not enough to solve any issues.
To master the art of solving cases in one call, the agent needs to understand what’s really causing that issue – and they have to do it fast. Asking the right questions will help the customer help you help them.
Here are the most common questions to ask when you need to move forward in situations like this:
- What precisely is not working?
- What was the last thing that you did before the issue occurred?
- What happened after that?
- Can you see an error message or any other notification?
Asking the right questions is the only way that agents can understand and validate customers’ problems. Keeping your customers’ perspective in mind at all times is a must here: only if the customer can understand what you’re asking and knows how to give you the right answer will you stand a chance to solve the problem in this single call.
Pro tip: create a decision tree for the most commonly appearing issues that will help you find the right solution by asking the right questions.
#2 Acknowledge your customers’ feelings (and wait time)
Wait time can have a huge impact on your customer satisfaction and their willingness to cooperate with you during the call. The longer a person has been waiting for somebody to pick up the phone the hastier they are to get a quick solution to their problem.
Always check how long the customer has been waiting before picking up the phone. You can guess the customer’s attitude based on the wait time. Be ready to face a stressed-out customer if the wait time has extended over 10 minutes.
Note: don’t apologize for the wait time – this would only put the customer on a dominant level, and, according to Ahmad, this will not create a productive environment for the call. Acknowledge your customer’s wait time and their feelings without apologizing.
When you’re working with a disappointed or stressed customer, let them know that you are there to help. Instead of being apologetic for the wait time or for the problems the caller is having with your product, partner up with your customer to find the best solution for the issue.
Position yourself on your customer’s side and you will be amazed by how the most negatively minded people will melt and start to collaborate with you. That’s the environment in which you can start to look deeper into the issues that your customer is having. And that’s how you’ll be able to provide a solution within that first contact.
More resources on call centers
#3 Know where to look for answers
Throughout the interview we had with Ahmad, he constantly emphasized the importance of proper contact center training. However, he also admits that training equips agents only with the basic information – and that’s rarely enough to solve cases in the first point of contact.
To solve customers’ issues within a single phone call, you have to be ready to give answers about very nuanced features, functionalities, and situations. It’s borderline impossible for all contact center agents to be able to know all of this by heart. That’s why a comprehensive knowledge base is an integral part of each successful customer service team’s tool kit.
Here are the key things to review and revamp in your call center’s knowledge base if you want to improve your FCR:
- Central repository: make sure you have all the necessary information available in one place. Agents won’t have time to browse different knowledge bases during a call.
- Structure of the information: all the data that the agents need has to be easily accessible and findable. You will lose a lot of valuable time navigating your knowledge base if it’s not structured properly and logically.
- Search capabilities: looking for answers by keywords might be the most time-consuming way of finding help, but it could also be the only way out if you are lost in your own knowledge base. Have a keyword-based search ready as a safety net for times like this.
- Up-to-date information: most call centers rely heavily on their knowledge bases; thus, the information stored there must be reviewed and updated regularly. Allow your contact center agents to flag the articles that are outdated and request new ones on topics that are currently missing from your knowledge base. Your agents are the best source of information when it comes to maintaining and improving your internal documentation.
Pro tip: include real-life customer scenarios in your training and knowledge base. This will help agents put the theoretical knowledge into use in actual customer interactions.
Ahmad Baydoun believes that all companies need to keep a sharp focus on their First Contact Resolution rate. FCR is one of the most important call center metrics that can significantly impact other KPIs like CSAT.
The more cases your call center can resolve in a single contact point, the happier your customer base will be. That’s why the investments you make to improve FCR – from proper agent training to a decent internal knowledge base – will pay off quickly.
Call centers play a massive role in the success stories of many large companies. We’re excited to bring these learnings to the global customer service community together with Ahmad Baydoun. Stay tuned for our next articles in the Klaus Call Center Stories.