Judgment@Work - Customer Conversations and First Call Resolution
By Dina Vance, Senior Vice President, Ulysses Learning
You are driving your car and the traffic light ahead turns yellow. What goes through your mind to make the decision to stop or go through the yellow light? Your decision depends on past experiences. For example, is this a busy intersection? Does this light turn red quickly? Have you seen an accident when someone went through a yellow light? Is there a camera taking a photo of cars going through red lights? You are using these experiences to make the best judgment of what to do. Likewise, to ensure First Call Resolution (FCR), using past experiences enables good judgment which is imperative for high quality customer conversations.
To make good judgments (decisions) we need to understand WHY we make certain decisions. Duke University professor and behavioral economics expert Dan Ariely said it best as he described people as “predictably irrational.” He believes it is key to understand our preferences and motivations. And in the instance of first call resolution, understanding needs of our customers, what it takes to go the “extra mile” and acknowledging our own tendencies all lead to the judgements we use during interactions with customers.
We make judgments every day throughout the day when confronted with caller concerns, all of which impact our customer’s experiences. Like the yellow light decision, good judgment is based on specific situations, our comfort level, and what we believe “is the right thing to do” based on experience. Therefore, the first step in using good judgment and becoming a good decision maker is to think about word choices, understand our customers and remember our goal which is providing a positive customer experience during the first point of contact (FCR).
The second step is to be open to accept our mistakes and then learn from them. Good decision makers succeed as they capitalize on their mistakes, continue to refine their judgment, and adjust their logic. Learning from each call experience that didn’t result in FCR or a positive customer reaction is a way to determine what to do differently the next time in a similar situation.
The third step is to be coachable and hear the offer of others’ experiences which challenge our biases and thoughts, and provides others’ views of a situation. Giving and receiving coaching are beneficial to learn and adjust our approach and apply our best judgment. Given this, let’s take a look at examples of when we can employ good judgment resulting in FCR.
Example 1 The caller asks you for information that is not available, or for an action that is not possible. Our bias may be “just tell them no” however, that doesn’t serve the customer in helping them understand the situation, and likely will result in another call from the customer, thus not achieving FCR. In this instance, judgment dictates to offer other options to explore with the customer, such as education, or explaining how a contract or policy works, so they are informed going forward.
Example 2 We couldn’t help the customer with their inquiry, as they’ve reached the wrong department. Using good judgment that leads to FCR would be to ask some specific questions and do some quick research to get the customer “warm transferred” to the correct department to prevent the customer being passed from one department to another.
Example 3: A customer is very upset about not being able to make a payment because they’ve lost their job, or are experiencing a major life event. You could think, “Well, this is the only way-they must pay” and will result in this customer calling back to see if they can get a better or different response. Using good judgment, you could empathize with the customer by saying something like, “Wow, I can imagine what a difficult time this has been for you. I would like to research payment options that may be available to get you through this difficult time.” Not only will this call result in FCR, but also a very loyal customer who found a person going above and beyond to help them.
Learning ways to provide different options for customers and encouraging employees to go the extra mile will go a long way in improving the customer experience, increasing FCR and ultimately building customer loyalty. There are countless opportunities throughout the day for call center managers to support their employees in how to use good judgment for FCR and greater customer satisfaction.