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Challenge Solved! An Advice Column Only For Contact Center Managers
Submitted by Ulysses Learning

April 20, 2017

Challenge Solved!          
An Advice Column Only for
Contact Center Managers
April 2017
This month we feature insights from Dina Vance, Senior Vice President, Managing Director North America, for Ulysses Learning.
The question selected from our readers this month is:
Q:  While we have numerous metrics that drive our contact center operation, we will soon be measuring First Call Resolution as well.  What’s the best way to introduce FCR to our agents?
A:(Dina Vance, Ulysses Learning)  
            The short answer to this question is that you need to start sharing very specific communications (both in writing and verbally) with everyone on your team right away.  At the minimum, your people must have a clear understanding of these key questions:
1)      What is FCR or First Call Resolution?
2)      How do we all win with FCR?
3)      What are a couple of quick tips to improve FCR today?
4)      What if the customer’s need cannot be resolved on the first call?
5)      Will measuring FCR impact my salary or how I am rewarded?
Certainly, you could address any number of questions, and if they are important to your organization, please do so.  Having said that, I have found that if the above questions are addressed – early and often, before and during the implementation phase of measuring FCR, there’s a high likelihood you will be pleased with the results.  That’s the short answer.
If you have a bit more time to invest in reading this advice column response, let me share some additional communication points for you to consider.
1)      What is FCR or First Call Resolution?
Don’t get too fancy here in answering this question.  Communicate to your people that 
First Call Resolution is a measure that only top performing organizations are in a position to achieve.  It’s achieved when we properly address the customer's need the first time they call, which results in eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second call.  Also, when done effectively, FCR greatly reduces call escalations.
You might also want to mention that the fact your company is able to measure FCR is a sincere compliment to your people and the incredible work they do each day to deliver exceptional service.  The truth is, your contact center has probably already made significant investments in improving its customer service operation and your reps are a major reason for your success to this point. Tell them that. Tell them that without their dedication and professionalism, the company would not be in a position to make FCR a reality.
So, those are some initial communication points you can consider to help set the stage.  Next, I recommend you make a strong appeal to your people to let them know how FCR benefits everyone – not just your company and customers – but how does it also benefit your people – reps, supervisors and managers.  I see many companies bypass this important element in building a case for FCR. 
2)      How do we all win with FCR?
Tell your people that you are excited that First Call Resolution (FCR) has become one of your major measures for success in your contact center.   Let them know that you believe when you focus on FCR everyone wins (in some pretty incredible ways) – your employees, customers, and company. 
With a focus on FCR, the company wins because it will be in alignment with its company values.  Tell them that FCR is valued highly as one of the centerpieces of exceptional customer service.
With a focus on FCR, your customers win because FCR feels good.  Perhaps you can have your employees relate to a recent situation where they were the customer receiving the type of service they expected.  Ask them to think about how they felt when their issue was resolved on the first call.  Did they feel happy, relieved, satisfied, thankful, grateful, peaceful, respected, thrilled, delighted, and/or optimistic?  And remind them that these positive feelings can stick with them throughout the day and affect those around them, uplifting others as well.
With a focus on FCR, your people win because the real power of good customer service is when they can give an experience to someone else that feels good to that person, they will feel good in return.  Employees can feel happy, relieved, satisfied, thankful, grateful, peaceful, respected, thrilled, delighted, and optimistic, as well as other positive emotions that are meaningful to them, when there is a focus on FCR.  I am a strong advocate in taking the time to make sure your people see the benefit of FCR and to help them internalize that benefit.   When they can make that personal and emotional connection, there is a greater chance they will support your FCR goals.
3)      What are two quick ways to improve FCR?
When answering this next question for your people, point out that you know that they are already putting excellent customer care strategies into action every day.   You want to encourage them to keep doing the outstanding work they are doing and consider these two techniques proven to lift FCR even further.  I chose these two techniques, specifically, because they are fairly easy to understand and implement.
Tip #1: Keep your promise.  Let your reps know that by them simply keeping their promises to customers and doing and/or saying what they promise to do and/or say, they will be helping to boost FCR.  Ask them to think about how they feel when someone delivers on or keeps a promise.  Most likely they will say they feel some level of satisfaction or another positive emotion.  Encourage them to let positive feeling be their motivation.  If they tell the customer they’re going to update information in the system for him, update the information as quick as they can. If they say they’re going to call the customer back, tell the customer when they can expect a call back and make the call as promised (even if your employees don’t have a complete answer for the customer).  Whatever the promise is, keep that promise.  When reps do this, they are showing the customer respect.  Respect feels good.  In return, reps will feel respected by customers (in most situations) as being competent and confident professionals who have earned the customer’s trust.  (And this will feel good to your people.)
Tip #2: Sidestep the homework trap.  Sometimes in an effort to provide additional service beyond taking care of the customer’s original issue or request, reps may say things like “call us back at the end of the week to make sure your payment is processed correctly” or “call us back in a couple of days to check on the status of our investigation”.  Encourage your people to stay clear of offering these types of tips to the customer.  Why?  Because they are unintentionally giving the customer homework they really don’t want or need to do.  Again, encourage your reps to think about how they would feel if someone told them they were taking care of their request…and then they are given additional work to do to ensure that the request was resolved.  They may feel frustrated and/or wonder if their issue is even going to be resolved. Remind reps to end their calls with confidence and tell the customer the issue is (or will be) resolved.  Reps must trust the system…and the process. 
4)      What if the customer’s need cannot be resolved on the first call?
While the majority of the calls that come into our contact centers can be resolved on the first call, you know that some simply can’t.  Share this reality with your agents and tell them that when they are faced with a customer situation that cannot be resolved on the first call, that this is the perfect time to use their good judgment.  And then I would give them a couple of examples that are meaningful to your organization.  
Here is one common example:  A customer with an issue so complex he/she has been placed on hold for longer than 30 minutes in total.  In these situations, you could tell your reps that your Quality team is recommending that when a customer has a complex issue that is not resolved after holding for 30 minutes (or whatever threshold your center has determined) they can tell the customer they will investigate the customer’s issue and get back to him/her within the next 2 hours (or whatever period of time your company has determined is a good average time to share with the customer).  Let your reps know that the long hold time is a cue for reps to use their own good judgment.  Encourage reps to put themselves in the customers’ shoes (think about how they might feel) and tell the customer what they are going to do for him/her (call them back after the rep investigates the issue further or gets another department involved for additional assistance) and then tell the customer when they can expect a call back.  Then reinforce with your reps the importance of keeping a promise made.
5)      Will measuring FCR impact my salary or how I’m rewarded?
If measuring FCR is impacting your people in any way, financially, you have to spell that out for them upfront and paint a very clear picture on how they can be successful with the new twist to their pay structure.  I would also caution against making changes to their pay until you’ve perfected the way you measure their performance related to FCR.  While your intentions to weave FCR into your performance measurement may be pure, if not executed well, it can get quite ugly and cause unnecessary disruptions in your business unit that may be tough to manage.  As you are probably already well aware, emotions can run high when you’re altering your reps pay.
A final thought for you is this.  Remember to encourage your reps to share other ways they see FCR being of benefit to them, personally, as well as those they serve.  Also, let them know you plan to have team meetings where, together, everyone can explore other tips to achieve your FCR goals in a way that feels good – to each of your reps, customers, and the company, overall.
This month’s featured expert is….
Dina Vance, Senior Vice President, Managing Director North America, Ulysses Learning  
Dina Vance is a widely-respected thought leader on developing and leading contact center staff and a pioneer in improving performance of contact centers. Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers before she moved into a consulting role where she also managed the call center division for an international consulting and training organization. She has worked with Fortune 100 companies to optimize their contact center performance through focus on results, people, and process. For more details on Ulysses Learning visit Dina can be reached at
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