Call Handling Best Practices for Improving FCR

Author: Mike Desmarais, CEO & Founder, SQM Group

call handling

Call Resolution Delivery Model

At the heart of world class customer service is the way in which CSRs handle calls. Resolving calls and having very satisfied customers requires CSRs to be highly skilled at call handling. Contact center managers know very well that CSRs must have the necessary product, service and technology knowledge, but just as important is their ability to handle calls so that they resolve the call and the customer feels they received great customer service. It comes as no surprise that CSRs are not always as effective with the soft skills aspect of call handling.

To help CSRs gain effective call handling practices, SQM has developed a Call Resolution Delivery Model (see below) that defines the customer experience standards a CSR should follow in order to be successful at resolving customer calls at the world class level of 95%. Specifically, these standards are based on listening to customer feedback and determining what makes the customer very satisfied and resolves their call on the first call. Based on the fact that these world class call resolution delivery standards were developed from surveying over five million customers who called a contact center, there is tremendous confidence that these standards are extremely helpful for supervisors when coaching CSRs on how to deliver world class call resolution performance.

The Call Resolution Delivery Model for CSR call handling is comprised of the four key moments of truth that matter the most to customers.

Concierge Service

The way contact center concierge service works is when a CSR assists a customer by contacting other departments or organizations in order to resolve the customer’s call. Specifically, the concierge CSR tells the customer that they will call the necessary department or organization, either on their behalf or with them on the line, to get the reference code, information or authorization needed to resolve the call. In most cases, a concierge CSR calls other departments or organizations while the customer is on the phone and a three-way conversation takes place.

The Shift from Average Speed of Answer to FCR Focus

The contact center industry has traditionally used service level and average speed of answer (ASA) as the holy grail for defining customer service. While these metrics speak to speed, they do little to shed light on the customer’s Csat, or more importantly, the number of calls a customer makes to resolve their inquiry. Although keeping track of these metrics remains important, it is not considered a best practice to focus on service level and ASA metrics as the key indicator of customer service. A best practice is to use FCR, not service level metrics, as the measure of contact center customer service performance.

Proper execution in shifting from a service level focus to an FCR focus can be challenging for contact centers that have an engrained culture of defining customer service success through service levels and ASA. In order for contact centers to be successful in the transition from a service level and ASA focus to an FCR focus there needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking that FCR is the key to Csat. SQM has conducted research on the impact ASA has on Csat, and the findings show that there is no impact to Csat for the first 120 seconds of a call. In other words, if a CSR answers the call within 120 seconds, there is neither a positive nor a negative impact on Csat. What customers really want is to have their call resolved and therefore they are tolerant with the speed of answer.

Intelligent Skill-Based Routing

Intelligent skill-based routing is a call assignment practice used in contact centers to assign incoming calls to the most suitable CSR rather than simply the next available CSR. The most suitable CSR is determined by utilizing information about who is calling and why they are calling in order to match up with an available CSR who has the necessary skill level to resolve the customer’s call. Many contact centers use a generalist CSR call handling business practice resulting in having a large queue of generalist CSRs to handle calls, but they are not specifically matched to customer needs. SQM’s research shows that in most cases the specialized CSR’s skill set to handle specific call types has higher FCR performance than the generalist CSR who has a skill set to handle most or all call types.

More details can be found in SQM’s book:
First Contact ResolutionFirst Contact Resolved Best Practices: Top 10 FCR & Multi-Channel Customer Experience Best Practices from Award Winning Contact Centers (published June 2015)

Available here

2015 Contact Center FCR Best Practice Award Winner – Call Handling – Canadian Tire Bank

call handling practices

Criteria: There are 15 distinct Best Practice Awards (i.e., Omni-Channel, Web Self-Service Channel, IVR Self-Service Channel, Chat Channel, Quality Assurance Program, Desktop Applications, CSR Recognition Program, Career Development Program, Call Handling Practice, Real-Time CSR Support Queue, Performance Management System, CSR Coaching Program, CSR Training Program, CSR Hiring Process, Standard Operating Practices).

These awards recognize the organizations that have demonstrated they have improved or helped maintain high first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance.

Canadian Tire Financial Services (CTFS) is the financial services arm of Canadian Tire. It offers credit, loan, insurance products and services and is the second largest MasterCard issuer in Canada with its Canadian Tire Options® MasterCard. CTFS is a significant contributor to Canadian Tire performance, representing 8% of overall revenues but nearly 25% of profit in 2011. Canadian Tire Options® MasterCard continues the customer loyalty program tradition through the awarding of electronic ‘Money’ to cardholders when purchases are made at Canadian Tire stores.

At Canadian Tire, delivering consistently high-quality service experiences is a philosophy that is woven into the fabric of the organization’s “Customers for Life” culture. Every representative at its award-winning Customer Relationship Contact Center (CRCC) is fully aligned with the mission to deliver world class customer service, and is accountable for first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction.

A look inside the CRCC reveals a best-in-class contact center with consistently high FCR performance and employee engagement.

Download the Complete Whitepaper


2014 Call Center FCR Best Practice Gold Award Winner – Call Handling Practices – Canadian Tire Financial Services

call handling practices

Criteria: There are 10 distinct Best Practice Awards (i.e., Quality Assurance Program, Desktop Application(s), CSR Recognition Program, Career Advancement, Call Handling Practices, Real-Time CSR Support Queue, Performance Management System, CSR Coaching Program, CSR Training Program, CSR Hiring Process).

These awards recognize the organization that has demonstrated they have improved or helped maintain high first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance.

CTFS is the financial services arm of Canadian Tire. It offers credit, loan, insurance products and services and is the second largest MasterCard issuer in Canada with its Canadian Tire Options® MasterCard. CTFS is a significant contributor to Canadian Tire performance, representing 8% of overall revenues but nearly 25% of profit in 2011. Canadian Tire Options® MasterCard continues the customer loyalty program tradition through the awarding of electronic ‘Money’ to cardholders when purchases are made at Canadian Tire stores.

At Canadian Tire, delivering consistently high-quality service experiences is a philosophy that is woven into the fabric of the organization’s “Customers for Life” culture. Every representative at its award-winning Customer Relationship Contact Center (CRCC) is fully aligned with the mission to delivery world class customer service, and is accountable for first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction.

A look inside the CRCC reveals a best-in-class contact center with consistently high FCR performance and employee engagement.

Download the Complete Whitepaper


 
 
2013 Best Practice Award Winner:

Canadian tire financial, call handling practices

Criteria: There are 5 distinct Best Practice Award categories (i.e., Quality Assurance Program, Knowledge Management Tool, Recognition Program, Career Advancement, Call Handling Real-Time CSR Support Queue). These awards recognize the organization that has demonstrated how they have improved or helped maintain high first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction (Csat) performance. Organizations submit specific practices they have used to improve or maintain high FCR and Csat performance. FCR can be determined by the customer or the organization and Csat must be determined by the customer.

The C Spire Customer Care organization understands that real time support for frontline representatives is a vital part of both employee and customer satisfaction. In keeping with the organization’s vision of “being and becoming known as the best in our industry(s)”, Customer Care leadership stakeholders are committed to ensuring that all employees have access to people, process, and technological methods to ensure customer satisfaction.

It is essential to define some of the organization’s internal jargon and terms to understand how we manage the real-time needs of the Customer Care team.

  • Spark: C Spire has partnered with Softonic International to offer each representative access to instant messaging software via Spark. Representatives are able to leverage this tool to request support from leaders and peers swiftly without ever placing customers on hold minimizing customer frustration due to wait times and/or transfers and ensures that customer issues are resolved during the initial call improving FCR.
  • Knowledge Base (KB): C Spire employs the use of a web-based solution that houses all policy/procedure, sales promotion, trouble ticketing, and breaking news information. This tool is designed to be each employee’s first line of defense for independently finding answers to obscure customer-facing matters. Leaders consistently hold representatives accountable to using the KB instead of verbally answering question in keeping with the “Teach ‘em to Fish” philosophy fostering customer satisfaction and one call resolution.
  • Nuasis: The ACD vendor C Spire currently uses to route and connect customer calls. Representatives are monitored closely in real time to ensure that customers’ requests are handled efficiently and effectively.
  • Floor Support: Each site has representatives who consistently demonstrate an ability to deliver above average performance results and above average familiarity with organizational policies and procedures. These resources are chosen quarterly based solely on their performance for the previous quarter with emphasis on leadership and subject matter expertise. These persons are also a part of the organization’s leadership development program; they must demonstrate an ability to act as a next level leader. Additionally, to ensure they are fully utilized, floor support team members also own customer-impacting administrative tasks and customer follow-ups.
  • Team Captains: Frontline representatives who have not yet developed to the point of being used as Floor Walkers, but they consistently demonstrate a high level of eagerness, positivity, energy, excitement, and customer advocacy. These persons are selected on a quarterly basis according to their performance and they support Coaches in creating excitement about business-specific initiatives, they encourage their peers by creating and sending out inspiring/encouraging emails, they make team wide audible announcements, they are the first to recognize peer successes, service anniversaries, etc. For all intents and purposes, Team Captains are cheerleaders. They spend all of their time on the phone with customers unless there is a need for support (i.e. we have a need for additional floor support). These persons help to drive enthusiasm and peer accountability.
Download the Complete Whitepaper