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FCR and Customer Satisfaction: A Match Made in Heaven Peggy Carlaw

When you call a sup­port cen­ter to get help on an issue or have a ques­tion answered, will you be more sat­is­fied with the com­pany if:

  1. The cus­tomer rep­re­sen­ta­tive is knowl­edge­able and is able to resolve your issue on the first call?
  2. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive is unsure how to help you, puts you on hold, and then asks you to call back so that a super­vi­sor can help you?

It’s pretty obvi­ous, right? If a com­pany can resolve your prob­lem on the first try, you’ll think more favor­ably of the com­pany and rate your cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion expe­ri­ence higher.

First-Call Res­o­lu­tion (FCR) is one of the simplest—and most effec­tive ways a com­pany can improve cus­tomer satisfaction.

The sta­tis­tics back the cor­re­la­tion between FCR and cus­tomer satisfaction

Numer­ous stud­ies between FCR and CSAT rates show the link. For example:

  • 20% of callers don’t have their issue resolved on the first call.
  • 68% of those with unre­solved issues are at risk for defect­ing to another company.
  • CSAT rates are, on aver­age, 35–45 % lower when a sec­ond call is made for the same issue.
  • For every 1% of FCR improve­ment, com­pa­nies are likely to see a 1% improve­ment in CSAT rates.
  • When an issue is resolved on the first try, only 3% of cus­tomers are likely to go to a competitor.

And the stats go on … but you get the point. To improve your cus­tomer ser­vice, work on your FCR rates. There's def­i­nitely a busi­ness case for address­ing res­o­lu­tion rates!

But, for many com­pa­nies, improv­ing FCR is a com­plex issue. What’s going on?

Just improve your FCR and you’ll have hap­pier cus­tomers! Eas­ier said than done, right? Let’s exam­ine some of the most com­mon bar­ri­ers to FCR.

  • Com­plex Prod­ucts or Issues: FCR is much eas­ier for, say, an online retail store, where a cus­tomer is call­ing to get more infor­ma­tion on dress sizes, than a web-hosting com­pany that deals with tech­ni­cal domain issues and server problems.If you have a com­plex prob­lem or have a sup­port cen­ter that deals with highly tech­ni­cal mat­ters, focus­ing on FCR may not apply. If that’s the case, focus on hav­ing highly trained, independent-thinking reps who can work effi­ciently to solve cus­tomer matters—even if it takes mul­ti­ple calls. Your focus then will be on reduc­ing the time or the num­ber of calls until the issue is resolved.
  • To mea­sure FCR, you have to first define “fix.” When track­ing met­rics of any kind, you need to clearly define your track­ing para­me­ters. For FCR, what does “fix” a cus­tomers’ issue mean to you? Did you solve a URL issue, but still leave open other ques­tions that need to be tack­led? Define issues, prob­lem by prob­lem (or in a set of prob­lems, as the case may be) before you set out to track and improve FCR rates. Addi­tion­ally, you’ll need to define what “con­tact” means. Is e-mail a con­tact? Is a web-generated request a contact?
  • It takes two to tango. When look­ing at FCR, you may find it hard to con­trol your rates if you have a cus­tomer base with a low level of expe­ri­ence. Depend­ing on your indus­try and prod­uct, your customer’s under­stand­ing of the prod­uct will affect how long it takes for the rep­re­sen­ta­tive to resolve the issue. If you sell B2B tech­ni­cal equip­ment,  your cus­tomer will likely have a base under­stand­ing of the prod­uct and may just need a lit­tle assis­tance. But if you are sell­ing tech­ni­cal ser­vices to the B2C world, the learn­ing curve may be steeper and the time to res­o­lu­tion longer.
  • Tech­ni­cal skills of your rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The train­ing you pro­vide to your rep­re­sen­ta­tives can make a dra­matic dif­fer­ence in your FCR rates—particularly if you have a tech­ni­cal ser­vice or prod­uct. Hope­fully your man­age­ment team under­stands that an invest­ment in tech­ni­cal cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing is well-worth it when con­sid­er­ing the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of low FCR rates.
  • Self-service’s impact on FCR. More and more cus­tomers rely on web forums—and on your website—to help them resolve issues. This means that cus­tomers who would have called you pre­vi­ously (most likely with eas­ier issues) are now fig­ur­ing out answers them­selves. Cus­tomers who do end up call­ing, there­fore, are often those who couldn’t resolve the issue and present more com­plex prob­lems that could be harder to resolve on the first call.
  • Your rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ com­fort level with inter­nal tools. You may think that a hefty invest­ment in a slick CRM sys­tem is just the ticket, but with any inter­nal tools you have in place, make sure you train your reps thor­oughly on how to use the tools at their dis­posal. If a rep­re­sen­ta­tive is fum­bling or tak­ing a long time to fig­ure out how to use a sys­tem, most likely, it will take longer (or not be pos­si­ble) to solve a cus­tomer issue on the first try.

The les­son? Improve the fac­tors you can con­trol that help improve FCR

The above list is just a brief sam­ple of the many bar­ri­ers that com­pa­nies face when con­fronting low FCR rates and unde­sir­able CSAT scores. How­ever, even if you have a very com­plex prod­uct, and even if you’re deal­ing with a cus­tomer base that comes to you with a lower-level of under­stand­ing, you can still offer stel­lar cus­tomer ser­vice and get your FCR rates as low as pos­si­ble for your indus­try and prod­uct type. The key? Your cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing pro­gram. When you choose to focus on the qual­ity of ser­vice your rep­re­sen­ta­tives offer your cus­tomers, and the tech­ni­cal train­ing your employ­ees receive, you are likely to see a nat­ural increase in your FCR rates, and your loyal cus­tomers will con­tinue to reward you with busi­ness. Heavenly!

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
Peggy Carlaw
View all posts by Peggy Car­law
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