This study assesses the impact your contact center call escalation practices have on your cost and first call resolution, customer satisfaction and retention performance

The effective handling of escalated calls and good service recovery are, for many contact centers, the very best opportunity to demonstrate to customers that you want to resolve their call and you really care about their concerns. Based on the fact that escalation Customer Service Representatives (CSR) are, in many cases, the last resort for a customer to have their call resolved, it is essential that the contact center call escalation practices achieve high levels of call resolution, preferably on the first call. It has been SQM’s experience that customers whose calls are handled by escalation CSRs are seldom or never asked to participate in a post-call survey about the service they received. It is our belief the customers whose call was handled by an escalation CSR are the most important customers who should receive a post-call survey. The reason for this belief is that, in many cases, these are the customers most likely to defect to your competition as a result of their contact center experience. In addition, our research shows that 18% of all calls are handled by an escalation CSR and when the call is handled by an escalation CSR the first call resolution (FCR) is 20% lower than when calls are handled by non-escalation CSRs. It is very clear from our research that most contact centers need to improve their call escalation FCR and Customer Satisfaction (Csat) performance. Our Contact Center Escalation Impact Study focuses on assessing how escalated calls impact your operating cost, FCR, Csat and your ability to retain customers as a result of their call being handling by an escalation CSR. In addition, SQM will share with you best practices for handling escalated calls.

Why Participate in SQM’s Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Study

Do you know…

  • your FCR and Csat performance for calls handled by escalation CSRs?
  • how calls handled by escalation CSRs are impacting your operating cost?
  • how calls handled by escalation CSRs are impacting your organization’s ability to retain customers?
  • the financial impact of not retaining those customers?
  • how your FCR and Csat performance for calls handled by escalation CSRs compares to over 450 leading North American contact centers?
  • the reasons for your repeat calls for calls handled by escalation CSRs?
  • the best practices for handling escalated calls?

If you don’t have quality answers to these questions, let the experts at SQM Group assist you in assessing your contact center’s call escalation performance.

Top 5 Reasons to Improve your Call Escalation Performance

Reduce operating cost – for every 1% improvement in FCR, a contact center reduces its operating costs by 1%. If a contact center is performing at the FCR contact center industry average of 70%, it is important to understand that, potentially, 30% of customers will have to call back because their issue was not resolved on the first call. It is also important to note that for the contact center industry average, it takes 1.5 calls to resolve a customer’s inquiry or problem yet for customers who do not achieve FCR, it takes on average, 2.5 calls to resolve their call. This is an enormous opportunity to reduce a contact center’s operating costs as repeat calls represent 23% of the average contact center’s operating budget.

Improve Csat – for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in Csat (top box response). Clearly, FCR is highly correlated to Csat. In fact, of all the contact center internal or external metrics, FCR is the metric with the highest correlation to Csat. The absence of FCR is the strongest driver of customer dissatisfaction. In fact, as previously mentioned, Csat (top box response) drops, on average, 15% every time a customer has to call back to get their initial call resolved. In other words, if a customer had to call in three times to get their call resolved their Csat (top box response) would be 30% lower than a customer who had their call resolved on the first call.

Improve Esat – for every 1% improvement in FCR there can be a 1% to 5% improvement in Esat. Contact centers with high FCR tend to have high Esat. Conversely, contact centers with low FCR tend to have low Esat. The level of stress is very high for the CSR who handles the second or third call from a customer whose issue was not resolved on the first call. Increasing FCR improves both Esat and Csat. The bottom line is that when customer calls are consistently resolved on the first call, Esat can increase substantially, especially for low FCR performing contact centers. Most contact center managers connect to the concept that high Esat can provide high Csat/FCR, but it also goes the other way in that high Csat/FCR can provide high Esat.

Increase opportunities to sell – when a customer’s call is resolved, it increases the customer cross-selling acceptance rate by up to 20%. SQM’s research shows that the customer’s needs must be resolved before the CSR has earned the right to move on to any type of sales activity. If the CSR cross-sells before the inquiry or problem is resolved, the customer typically becomes irritated and feels that the organization is pushing its needs, rather than serving the customer’s needs. As a result, the fundamental customer relationship is undermined.

Reduce customers at risk – only 2% of customers who have their call resolved on the first call expressed their intent not to continue to use the organization’s products and services as a result of their contact center experience. However, if the call is unresolved, 19% of customers expressed their intent not to continue to use the organization’s products and services as a result of their contact center experience. The cost of customer defections as a result of their contact center experience tends not to be understood by contact centers because it is not often measured. For many contact centers, retaining customers represents the biggest opportunity to add true value to their organization. Resolving calls is the key to reducing customers at risk. In fact, for every 2% improvement in FCR there is a 1% improvement in call resolution which results in helping the contact center retain customers.

Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Study Methodology

Our Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Study takes key aspects of your contact center’s FCR, Csat and operational performance and brings them together for a deeper insight into your call escalation performance.

There are two surveys:

1. Post-Call Customer Survey
A random sample of 400 post-call phone surveys are conducted with customers who have had a transaction with your contact center escalation CSRs within 1 business day of their call. SQM’s post-call phone surveys are conducted by SQM’s telephone survey representatives. The post-call phone survey is an in-depth interview and is 5-10 minutes in length and is based on up to 20 rating and open-ended questions. Survey will include up to 5 customer protection questions. SQM’s post-call phone survey has a proven track record for measuring the attributes that accurately assess your escalation CSRs performance.

2. FCR Operational Survey
Contact center management complete an FCR operational survey which has over 45 metrics covering areas such as speed of answer, talk time, number of calls a CSR handles per day, CSR salary and CSR turnover.

The data from these two surveys are collected separately. However, our Contact Center Escalation Impact Study report combines the data so that you gain greater insight into what really drives your call escalation performance.

Assessment of Call Escalation Practices
An SQM consultant will come on site to evaluate your call escalation people, process and technology practices.

Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Report Deliverables

A 50 page Contact Center Call Escalation Impact report will be delivered to you and your management team via a conference call with a senior SQM consultant outlining your call center’s FCR, Csat and operational performance for escalated calls.

Specifically, SQM’s Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Study will provide the following:

  • Benchmarking comparison to over 450 leading North American contact centers
  • Benchmarking comparison to peer group, contact center industry and world class contact centers
  • Customer Protection – CP SCORE™
  • High level and detailed FCR and Csat ratings
  • Amount of revenue the contact center protected and lost
  • Unresolved calls impact on operating cost
  • Top 5 repeat call reasons and their improvement opportunity for financial savings
  • Targeted opportunities for reducing repeat calls
  • Operational benchmarking data for over 45 metrics
  • Assessment of your call escalation practices
  • Best practices for improving your call escalation practices
  • One copy of SQM’s book, First Call Resolution
  • Entry into SQM’s Service Quality Excellence Awards Program

Your Investment

The total investment for the Contact Center Call Escalation Impact Study is $12,000 plus applicable taxes. The only additional charge would be to cover travel and accommodation expenses for a SQM senior consultant to present the results to you and your team on site.