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Beware: First Contact Resolution is a Dangerous Trap

What’s this blasphemy of which you speak?  FCR is one of our most important metrics.  How could it possibly be anything but a win-win for everyone?

Well, it is.  Kinda.  But be careful.

Sure, fully resolving a customer’s problem in one contact IS a great thing for the customer and the company. 

But tracking the FCR metric inadvertently creates an entire string of negative consequences that are invisible to the naked eye, but are, in fact ruining your operational efficiency.

Think about it.  How is FCR measured?  A rep asks the customer, “Have I fully resolved your issue today?”  And if the customer says anything that sounds like a “yes” then the call is ended, and it’s scored as a victory for the rep and the company.

But don’t we all know that this question is actually a secret code?  If we’re being honest with ourselves, isn’t “Have I fully resolved your issue today” really a rep’s way of asking, “Do I have permission to hang up on you now so I can keep my AHT (average handle time) as low as possible?”

This pressure to BOTH end the call quickly and chalk up another FCR success has created a significant mismatch in the definition of true “first contact resolution.”

In our book “The Effortless Experience” we demonstrate through global data analysis, that while companies report more than 3/4ths of all issues are resolved in one contact, customers on the other hand say that about 60% of their issues actually require MORE than one contact.

How could there be such a massive data disagreement?  Is somebody lying?

No.  It’s just that the way companies define FCR is very different from the way customers experience it.

If a customer finishes a call with one of your reps, but then later (a couple of hours later, or a couple of days later) they discover there’s something else they forgot to ask, or didn’t know to ask—they will inevitably call back.

Now, when the company receives that second call—it’s “scored” as a brand new call, and the issue is treated like a brand new issue.  But the customer doesn’t see it that way.  To the customer, it’s still the same issue.

See the difference?

Which is why we’ve created a new concept called Next Issue Avoidance (NIA). 

What if, at the end of a call the rep had said, “Hey, I know it feels like we’ve resolved your issue, but based on our experience with other customers like you, there’s one OTHER thing I’d like to mention right now—just to make sure it doesn’t become a problem down the road.  Is that OK?”

Is that OK?  Sure!  To customers, when you resolve their next issue (especially one they wouldn’t have known to ask about) it feels like a great low-effort experience.  Who wouldn’t want to be loyal to a company that’s willing to serve me in that way?

To companies, next issue avoidance is the ultimate in cost-efficiency.  Yes, extending the current call by a minute or so will increase the handle time of this CALL.  But if it means that same customer won’t have to call back another time about something directly related to this ISSUE, then everyone wins.

If you could turn a 3-minute call into a 4-minute call—but doing so prevented you from having to take ANOTHER 3-minute call from this same customer—then, congratulations.  You just traded off 6:00 of call time with this customer for 4:00.  You just reduced your Total Handle Time by 33%.  Winner!

We invite you to join us at the ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference on Wednesday May 7th for Session 102, “Next Issue Avoidance:  Why it Beats FCR Every Time.”  We’ll discuss:

  • How to identify likely next issues related to the issue the customer is calling about
  • How to “up-serve” instead of “up-sell”
  • What you should be measuring each of your agents on, and how to enable them to become part of the solution to making your entire operation more economically efficient

Don’t fall victim to the FCR trap!  Join the NIA revolution.

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