Published: January 21, 2019 | Comments
Have you ever sat with your contact center’s leadership team and asked
yourself this question? What does resolution actually mean? Whether it’s
the New Year like it is now, and you’re resolving and reaffirming your
commitments to yourself or your loved ones, or it’s during call calibration
and you’re having a heated discussion about whether the rep you just
listened to actually achieved the desired outcome, I think we all have some
sense of it. After all, we’re in the customer service business. Resolution
comes from the idea that we have something permanent and actionable to go
forward with. Whether it’s the answer to that unanswered question we had,
or the fix to the problem we were faced with, when we have a real
resolution, we have what we need.
Moreover, when we reach out to get help from our service providers, we do
so with the intent of not having to reach out twice, that’s for sure. This
is likely true for all of us, and anyone you ask this question of. Yet, as
a service provider, how do we know we’ve really provided a resolution, and
delivered it the first time the customer called? How can we be
confident that we have reduced effort on behalf of our customer and met
their needs? I’d like to take some time to share with you how I believe my
Member Services team at Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS) has
achieved this over the past year by first and foremost listening to and learning from others and then
translating what we learned from listening into meaningful action.
For us, it all started with learning from the people in our organization
that really matter the most – our front-line employees. As an organization,
we’ve been focused on employee engagement, but it’s by reallyhearing our employees and giving them what they actually need that has made the difference. Coming out of 2017,
some pretty big themes emerged that indicated what was bringing down team
morale and engagement. The first came out of how we measured our
performance from a First Contact Resolution (FCR) perspective. I’ll give
you the abridged version of how we used to do things:
1. Our coaches would listen to a call
2. Coaches would review the file and all of the information that the
representative would have had the opportunity to review
3. Coaches would assess the overall success of the call based on behavioral
criteria that we determined were essential to a resolution
4. The call was then scored as resolved “Yes” or “No”
Bi-weekly, we would present the results of the call reviews back to our
representatives, going over the resolution scores, and providing feedback
on the behaviors that either helped or hindered their efforts. The results
were always presented first as a percentage reflective of how many were
resolved out of the total (either for this period or year-to-date), then
discussed from a behavioral perspective. Now you may be asking yourself,
what’s wrong with this? Perhaps this is your current practice! For APS
however, our team told us loud and clear that from their perspective, the
process was flawed. We knew we had to make a change.
Being innovative is one thing, but let’s face it, if you don’t have the
time to come up with all of the great ideas yourself (who does?), there’s
nothing quite like shamelessly copying or at least adapting the best
practices of other industry leaders to your environment. So it was no
surprise that when we attended the 2018 Contact Center Expo, we heard from
the experts that our representatives not only had a legitimate beef, but
there was a potential solution to the issue. The first piece came out of
Jeff Toister’s performance management workshop where he said:
When you score people with percentages, that’s all they tend to focus
on; often missing the best part, which is the valuable behavioral
feedback they need and want
. Justin Robbins reinforced this when we heard from him that there is
simply a better way to approach quality assurance by going scoreless and
focusing on behaviors instead of numbers. This was powerful stuff and
really started to validate what our representatives were telling us.
The second piece came out of an ICMI session we attended on using customer
feedback to improve service. In that session, the presenters told us how
they utilized a concept they called “Real FCR” to give voice to their
customers as a way to provide their representatives with valuable feedback.
That really hit home. Who better to give the final assessment on whether we
actually resolved issues or not than the people we serve?
Ultimately though, we had to put this to the test. Not long after returning
from Contact Center Expo, we engaged our team in a series of breakout
sessions, where we focused on discussing FCR and how we were applying it in
our contact center and brought forward the insights we took away from the
Expo. After all, not all things fit all people or all teams, and we needed
to see if these concepts aligned with what our representatives were
thinking. What they told us was simple:
Stop focusing on the scores because they are distracting and aren’t
helpful to me, and tell me what the plan member thinks of my service.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how happy we were to hear this, while
recognizing how strange that sounds at first - but it really was affirming.
Not surprisingly, the team was excited, and our marching orders became
We consolidated all of what we learned into a proposal (which was
subsequently approved) including an action plan aimed at making significant
changes to our approach around VOC and FCR. This plan included:
a. Engaging our customer experience survey vendor to help us develop a new
survey wherein we ask about FCR as part of the overall VOC survey, and
solicit open feedback on FCR, driving the data and feedback we receive down
to the individual team member.
b. Developing a new method and model for reviewing the feedback that we
receive from our surveys, continuing to combine that with actual call
reviews and delivering those results from the perspective of our plan
c. Watching for trends and gaps as our plan members tell us about them,
deriving the most valuable feedback from our plan members as it relates to
our corporate values and service strategy.
d. Attaching the surveys to all of our service channels, so we don’t miss
out on opportunities to learn through all of our work.
e. Leveraging strategic educational opportunities as a team using web-based
training to reset fundamental customer service principles.
f. Reporting back to our team on progress and results.
As of writing this article, I am thrilled to report that we launched our
redesigned survey and have been receiving responses back from plan members
since November 2018. Since then we have been socializing the results and
sharing feedback to our representatives. We also completed the redesign of
our coaching model with involvement from the team as a whole and are
implementing it this month. The new model will connect our representatives
with the feedback from our plan members, and combine that with real or
near-time input from our coaches who will continue to monitor them on a
daily basis. Overall, we have gone scoreless from the representative
perspective, which will enable us to have better and more meaningful
conversations about behaviors. Going forward, we will only be
reporting an FCR score at the team level. As we anticipated, we have
already been reaping the benefits with more to come.
How might attending Contact Center Expo transform your contact center? Join us this May 13-16 on the beach at the beautiful Diplomat Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Register here.