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Achieving First Contact Resolution

Many contact centers have a big goal: Increase First Contact Resolution (FCR). Leaders know it can improve efficiency, lower costs, provide a better customer experience. This post looks at tools that may help you achieve (or improve) FCR. As usual, these tools go hand-in-hand with good processes and the right contact center support and IT resources to use them effectively, across all channels.

first contact resolutionIt starts with getting contacts to the right resources through well defined, easy to understand prompts and contact routing. If contact complexity or diversity argues for skills-based routing, make sure you define agent skills with an eye toward FCR. If you over-segment, customers will get confused and go to the wrong pool or bail out of the prompts in favor of the general group. While the universal agent approach sidesteps this issue, the center must provide training and tools (e.g., KM, desktop) to help agents succeed. Context-based routing bridges the gap between these approaches by leveraging data about the contact, the customer, and the center to customize prompting and route customers to the right resources.

Once a contact gets to an agent, the biggest opportunity for improving FCR is knowledge management. Success depends on getting the fundamentals right – specifically, a well-designed search engine that yields a manageable size of results leading to targeted information and clear guidance for action. It also depends on processes that keep the content fresh and relevant. Feedback/ratings and workflows ensure outdated content goes away and the most useful information rises to the top. Agent participation provides valuable insights on what’s working and what’s not, and where information gaps hinder FCR.

Collaboration tools can play a big role in promoting FCR. Things like Instant Messaging (IM) (e.g., Skype for Business) and now, persistent collaboration spaces like Slack, provide service reps with the ability to tap other resources while remaining the focal point for customer interactions. Some companies use the principle of “swarming” for accessing a group of skilled resources for better, faster, FCR. This approach is gaining traction for tech support (e.g., Help Desks) as it breaks down the traditional tiered model.

CRM provides customer context that may be used in routing, gives agents the backstories on situations they face, and offers guidance on what to do through scripts or business rules. Contact history notes can prove especially valuable if they are concise, consistent, well-organized, and easily digestible.

A Unified Agent Desktop (UAD) can make it easier for agents to learn the ropes while providing tools to navigate seamlessly across back-end systems and process tasks faster. With a well-designed UAD, agents don’t give up as easily on unfamiliar inquiries, making it less likely that they’ll transfer or escalate the more challenging contacts.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is paving the way toward higher self-service success rates. AI “bots” provide a smart and conversational user interface along with an app that provides answers, guides users through transactions, knows when to get a human involved, and finds the right one. While some may be single-channel (e.g., a chatbot), a preferred long-term approach is to have an omnichannel platform that can serve customers via a variety of channels—voice, web chat, text chat, etc. (See July’s TechLine column for more on AI)

While not part of contact handling directly, WFO tools can play a role in achieving FCR by virtue of the insights they provide and their capacity to identify optimal solutions. For example, analytics tools (desktop, speech, text) can be used to profile customer and agent behavior when contacts are resolved and compare that against contacts that fail to attain FCR. This analysis pinpoints opportunities for improvement. As another case in point, desktop analytics could track access to knowledge to see if agents are using the tools, the frequency of their use, and the impact on FCR.

Beyond its role in measuring FCR, QM can be used to unearth the root causes of FCR failures, especially when screen recordings accompany the voice recordings. And, of course reports, scorecards or dashboards, gamification, and other performance tools play a role in helping to assess how people are doing, identify coaching opportunities, and motivate people to achieve the defined goals.

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