10 Steps to Improving First Contact Resolution (FCR)
By Rob McDougall
There are ten steps that will provide a powerful First Contact Resolution (FCR) plan that will give you the information and tools needed to improve the performance if your assisted service channels.
FCR is often used as a benchmark, and samples and averages are sufficient for these purposes, but they quickly run up against a wall when used in providing an ongoing and actionable FCR improvement program. The steps below outline the things that need to be done by a business for sustainable, fact-based First Contact Resolution improvement.
#1 – Measurement must be reliable and consistent
FCR measurement that you take in your contact centers needs to provide the same information about your agent performance and customer experience today that it does tomorrow and the next day. The measurement needs to be based on a single and consistent set of rules that are automated and provide consistent and fair results for all agents.
#2 – Measurement must be accurate and auditable
You can’t manage the customer experience directly; you can only manage the tools that you control. The information you collect on FCR should be used to manage your agents consistently, and as a result you will need to be able to provide specific examples of good and bad performance. The summary numbers you provide must be an accurate representation of the performance of that agent, and you need to be able to prove its validity as well.
#3 – Cover all interactions and all channels
To provide an example to an agent of a specific repeat call for a specific repeat reason, you would potentially require a survey sample size that exceeds your entire interaction volume for the month.
By capturing information on every interaction, you can easily locate the examples you need for agent or process improvement leading to increased FCR. In addition, agent performance and customer experience are also affected by the various incoming channels you provide for your assisted service.
Agents providing unmanaged and untracked email support for a period of time during the day invalidate most of the other metrics you collect about their performance. By tracking all interactions – calls, emails, chats, etc., then you can develop a complete picture of how your agents perform in relationship to FCR, and how they affect your customers across all of your channels.
#4 – Measurement is actionable down to the individual agent, customer, and interaction level
People, process and technology make up your contact center. Customer interactions occur with systems and with agents, and the information you collect should provide information on each of these different ‘views’ of the overall experience. By providing detailed information on customer experience as the customer sees it, and being able to look at that same information from the agents viewpoint as well, you can connect the dots between what the agent does and what the customer experiences.
You can now start to take actionable steps towards understanding what changes in the call center will do to the customer experience and the subsequent affect on cost and revenues.
#5 – Repeat reasons should be identifiable
Imagine if your child in grade school came home with a report card which told you that their average for the term was B+. With no detailed per subject breakdown of the marks, you wouldn’t be able to help your child improve.
You could only provide a broad tutoring program across all subjects in the hopes that the overall mark would go up. Contact centers are often managed this way, with attention paid to specific units and specific tests that may be particularity bad but not representative of the overall performance.
By capturing contact reasons on all contacts, you can start to look at FCR performance on a per subject basis, and start helping the agents improve in the specific subjects areas that they have problems with.
#6 – Repeat reasons should be accurate and manageable
Accuracy of information needs to be in the 90 / 95 percentile or greater. Contact reasons must be tracked and managed accurately in the contact center, through a combination of education and audit.
Agents will often enter incorrect contact reasons because a) the contact reasons don’t make sense or are too complicated, b) it takes too long, or c) they just don’t care. There are multiple ways of improving the accuracy of contact driver tracking:
- Using the context of an incoming interaction to help drive the work flow of the call gives the agents a direct ‘What’s in it for me’ – it makes their jobs easier.
- Providing auditable reports on call distributions across all agents lets management easily see where agents are bulking up on the ‘default’ codes
- Providing contact history on every interaction, listing contact reason and agent name, increases peer pressure to ‘get it right’, since the information is used down the line.
- Implementing QA recording reviews and validating the reasons against the recordings
- Educating the agents on the importance of contact reasons and what they are used for
- Capturing reasons based on agent activities and not on agent entry
- Ensuring that contact reasons do not go overboard – evaluating the need for reasons and sub reasons and ensuring that the lists stay clear and manageable and provide business value while maintaining maximum agent productivity
#7 – FCR rates should be presented in real time
Getting an FCR rate presented to someone of what they did last month or last quarter is historical information. Providing agents with up-to-date FCR information allows you to properly manage an agent based on current activities.
# 8 – Should be used for direct agent incentives
If you’ve done the first 7 things, then you should start to use these FCR numbers for incenting your agents. FCR behavior is what you want to improve in your business because it’s what the customer wants – to have their call resolved – and it’s what you want – to not require that subsequent call back or to lose that customer.
#9. FCR information should be used by supervisors for coaching agents
Once you understand the contact types an agent has issue with, you can provide coaching on the specifics that they individually have the biggest problems with – complete with actionable examples of what they did and how they can improve.
#10. FCR improvement should be ongoing and sustainable
All too often, FCR is a series of projects or an ‘initiative’. Properly implemented, it should be an ongoing management tool that provides easy access to the reports and information you need to track performance and make corrections.
Imagine if, as part of your budgeting process, you only received information about how well you are doing twice a year based on a sample of your vendors. It would make managing the business very difficult.
But since money is important, there are multiple reporting mechanisms in place to provide fast and detailed information about your budget performance. This same capability should be carried across to your contact center performance, and then it can be used consistently and repeatedly to improve your operations. With auditable FCR detail – in a form you can use daily or hourly, you have the information you need for sustained FCR improvement.
Upstream Works provides multichannel insight and automation for enterprise contact centers. They help customers in these ways:
- They enable premium service that results in a better customer experience, reduced customer churn/increased lifetime customer value while lowering operational costs.
- They provide contact center integration software and services that solve critical but “tough” problems that are causing ongoing headaches for real world contact centers – with the quickest deployment in the industry.
This article was submitted by Rob McDougall, President, Upstream Works Software;