10 best practices to improve your first call resolution
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
As you delve deeper into your customer service efforts, you’ll begin to strategize and come up with new ways to increase your clients’ satisfaction and agents’ efficiency. One of the most common and critical indicators to measure is your first call resolution rate.
What is first call resolution?
Commonly known as FCR, it simply represents the number of cases solved by your support agents during their first interaction with the clients, out of the overall number of requests they receive. In other words, what’s being assessed here is your team’s ability to deliver the right answer in one shot.
Now, you can imagine why improving your FCR is so important. A strong FCR not only indicates that your team provides exceptional service, but it also shows that your customers are receiving the answers they need in a fast manner, which increases their overall satisfaction. And we know that customer satisfaction is the number one indicator of a company’s success. Ready to muscle up your efficiency? Let’s see how to increase your first call resolution rate in no time.
1. Create an informative knowledge base
Let's begin with the core of your support effort: the knowledge base. In an ideal world, this help center should hold all of the product knowledge and answers to your most commonly asked questions. If you have a fantastic knowledge base center, your customers should be able to arrive at these articles and find the answers they need without having to look much further. Well, you might argue, it doesn’t actually help increasing your first call resolution. Because thanks to these articles, customers won’t even have to call you. While that’s technically right, in many cases, simply sharing the links to these articles will be sufficient to help customers reaching out to you via email, chat or social media to solve their problem - without having to contact you again. This implies three things:
2. Require minimal customer effort
Getting in touch with customer service should be fast and easy. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and imagine having to jump through hoops to get assistance. By the time you reach someone who can actually help, you're likely frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. That is not how you want your clients to feel. In fact, the more effort it requires for them to get to you, the lower the FCR. Why? Because rather than holding a clear conversation about the issue, their main concern has now become expressing their frustrations about the quality of your support. The time you could have spent tackling the problem or answering questions has now been allocated to de-escalating the call. It is likely that, at this point, your customer will need to reach out to you again to properly express their concerns.
So, what should you do? First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you can be found where your community expects you to be. Today, offering customer service on social media is quasi a must, and not being there would be a mistake for most businesses. You’ll also want to include a link to your contact information on your website and support center. And where possible, include contact information on the product itself.
3. Get clear on the issue
Information is power. This observation couldn’t be more relevant in the realm of customer service. The more precise and exhaustive the data you get about your clients’ problems, the better your chance to find the right elements to provide a quick and efficient answer. While speaking to your customers, hone in on what it is that they are reaching out to you about. Take the time to listen and take notes while they explain the situation. This way, you can gather the information you need in order to work on their case, clarifying any uncertainty as it emerges. Also, make sure to repeat and confirm every single piece of information you receive. Known as ‘active listening’, this empathy technique (used by the FBI negotiators themselves!) will make sure that every party remains on the same page all through the conversation. Once you are able to fully isolate the issue, you can effectively work on a resolution.
4. Be precise and don't overwhelm
Keep in mind that when providing answers to your customers, nothing should be left up for interpretation. Unclear instructions and incomplete answers are a sure way to have customers reaching out to you again. Be precise when giving your customers the answers they need. There’s nothing worse than getting off the phone with customer service to only realize you are more confused than when you initially called.
But be careful not to drown your users with too much information. There's a fine line between being thorough and being overly verbose. Delving too deep into an issue can actually cause your customer to feel overwhelmed and in need of additional assistance. If the information is not directly relevant to the issue, avoid bringing it up altogether. Find that sweet spot and you’re golden - you, and your first call resolution rate.
5. Anticipate customer needs
One of the keys to providing excellent service is to anticipate the issues your customers may run into, before they even occur. Awareness of how the customer is interacting with the product or service can tell you a lot about the problems they may be facing moving forward. Asking for this customer feedback or simply noting down any frustrations they incur while using your product will bring you valuable insight. You can use this discovery process to anticipate the questions your client is likely to ask themselves after the call is over. Address these questions now and you’ll save your client from having to reach out to you later. In short, be proactive! Your FCR will thank you.
6. Empower your customers
Empower your customers to find the answers they need by using the tools that are readily available to them. At the end of your interaction, kindly ask them if they are interested in learning how to browse your support center for information. Many times, they are unaware that you have a knowledge base and are happy to learn that they can search through this material without feeling the need to call customer service for support once again.
Another great way to empower your users is by expliciting every single step of the answer you’re providing and giving them easy-to-follow instructions. If you’re walking them through a certain process, say things like “Do you see how I am able to ____ by taking this action?”, or “Anytime you press this button, this will occur.” Don’t just deliver the information, teach them your ways.
7. Answer all of their questions
While answering your customers, make sure you have a pen and a sheet of paper right in front of you. Not so you can practice your mandala drawing skills during your conversation. This is necessary because you’ll want to write every single question they’ll ask or imply. Before ending the call, go over the list of issues you have covered with your customer and double check that you have answered everything. This is not only a great way to make sure all of your bases are covered. It also demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in providing the answers they need.
8. Provide your team with quality training
Train your support agents on a variety of topics and give them the product knowledge needed in order to become successful support representatives. It is nearly impossible to learn everything there is to know about a product, so it is crucial to give your agents the necessary tools to drive calls and deal with the issues presented to them. Knowledgeable agents exude confidence and inspire trust from your customers, which in turn increases customer satisfaction.
9. Motivate your agents
Find unique ways to motivate your agents and increase company morale. For the most part, happy agents equal happy customers. When agents are eager to assist clients, it shows through in every aspect of their work. They take the time to properly answer questions and fix issues, not rushing to get customers off the phone. Rather, they prioritize and value the quality of their work. Though the quantity of calls taken in a set period of time is a very common KPI (Key Performance Indicator), be wary that this does not directly conflict with your goal of improving first call resolution. Agents that are solely incentivised by the number of support request they take in a day can dramatically affect your FCR. Above all else, your agents should value customer service.
10. Review your support channels and gather feedback
Every so often, sit down to review calls, email, chats, or any other support channels your company offers. Going over these support requests can give you insight as to why your customers come back for more assistance. Are they coming to you because they are unable to find answers to their questions elsewhere? Do they come back because the agent they spoke to didn't seem confident when providing answers? Perhaps they continue to reach out because your product is overly complex and hard to use. Whatever it is, reviewing your support channels can give you a glimpse at the problem. From there, you can work on finding solutions.
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