Implementing a voice of customer (VoC) Performance Management System has been the quickest and most successful practice for improving first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction

SQM is often asked, “How can I quickly improve our FCR/call resolution performance?” The answer is to develop and implement a VoC Performance Management System and hold CSRs and management accountable for their VoC FCR/call resolution performance. SQM’s research shows that for the average contact center, 30% of customers did not get their call resolved on the first call, resulting in them having to call back to the organization. The CSR is the source of error (SoE) for 48% of unresolved calls making CSRs the biggest SoE for not achieving FCR/call resolution. SQM’s data also shows that when the CSR is the SoE for a call being unresolved, the majority of the time it is a ‘will’ issue. Specifically, SQM’s data shows that when a call is unresolved, 75% of the time it is a ‘will’ issue and 25% of the time it is a ‘skill’ issue. Based on the fact that the CSR is the primary source of error for unresolved calls and that 75% of the time it is a ‘will’ issue, implementing a VoC Performance Management System is the most proven practice for improving FCR and call resolution performance. Every client that has used SQM’s consulting service for developing and implementing a VoC Performance Management System has improved their FCR. On average, they have improved their FCR by 5% within one year and saved approximately $286,000 for every 1% FCR improvement.

The 3 Steps Needed for Developing a VoC Performance Management Plan

Step 1 – Gather and Analyze Data

Conduct customer surveys on contact center FCR and Csat performance – this study measures and benchmarks your contact center FCR and Csat performance and provides insights on improvement opportunities from a customer perspective. Typically, SQM will conduct a minimum of 400 post-call surveys, or analyze your existing data.

Conduct surveys on employee satisfaction (Esat) with contact center performance management system – this study measures and benchmarks Esat on your contact center performance management system practices and provides insights on improvement opportunities from an employee perspective. Typically, SQM will conduct a minimum of 100 front-line employee surveys, or analyze your existing data.

Focus group session on Esat with performance management system – the focus group sessions (2 to 4) will be conducted by an SQM consultant with CSRs and supervisors to gather feedback about what they like and dislike about current performance management practices.

Conduct human resource questionnaire – this questionnaire measures and benchmarks your contact center human resource practices. We collect data on your organization’s human resource practices such as metrics for which CSRs and management are held accountable, performance reports the employees review, the performance improvement plan, performance appraisal, coaching, training, bonus, recognition and career advancement practices. Typically, senior management and the Human Resource Manager complete this questionnaire.

Step 2 – Share Performance Management Practices Results

Share performance management practices results – the SQM consultant team will share key findings of the customer survey, employee survey, focus group and human resource questionnaire data with senior management. This review is used to gain a clear understanding and acceptance of current FCR, Csat, Esat and performance management practices.

Senior management will share recommendations – SQM’s consultant team will share best practices on a VoC Performance Management System for improving FCR, Csat and Esat. In addition, the SQM consultant team will seek out recommendations from senior management for improving their performance management system.

Step 3 – Develop VoC Performance Management System Plan

Based on gathering and analyzing data and sharing current performance management practices, SQM’s consultant team will develop a VoC Performance Management System Plan. The development of a VoC Performance Management System Plan can be a collaborative approach (SQM consultant team and organization team) or use only the SQM consultant team. The VoC Performance Management System Plan will be comprised of metrics for which CSRs and management are held accountable, performance reports which the employees review, performance improvement plan for poor employee performers, annual performance appraisal, how to coach and train CSRs and bonus, recognition and career advancement practices to motivate employees to improve VoC performance.

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Accountability Metrics – we will develop VoC metrics (e.g. FCR, call resolution and Csat) and targets for those metrics that both CSRs and management will be held accountable. In addition, we will provide options for capturing VoC metric data through different survey methods (e.g. IVR, phone, email and SMS).

Performance Reporting – we will develop a VoC dashboard for CSRs and management to view their performance. The VoC dashboard should be available on CSR and management desktops and/or mobile phones. We will also provide a template and process for sharing and actioning VoC data at the CSR and management levels.

Improvement Plan – we will develop a VoC performance improvement plan and process that can be used with poor VoC performing CSRs and managers. If possible, SQM will also determine the bottom 15% of CSR VoC performers and provide an action plan to improve their performance.

Performance Appraisal – we will develop a VoC performance appraisal and process that can be used with CSRs and managers to review their quarterly and annual VoC performances. The VoC performance appraisal will include recommendations for annual merit increases.

Coaching and Training – we will develop a VoC coaching guide and process that supervisors can use to help improve CSRs’ VoC performance. We will also provide a process to train the supervisors on how to coach CSRs using VoC data. We will review your training practices and provide recommendations for improvement.

Bonus and Recognition – we will develop bonus and recognition practices that can be used to motivate CSRs and management to want to improve their VoC performance. The VoC bonus and recognition program should be used for all contact center employees.

Career Advancement – we will develop career advancement practices that can be used to motivate CSRs and management to want to improve their VoC performance.

Developing a VoC Performance Management System Plan takes 2 to 3 weeks

Top 5 Reasons to Improve Your VoC Performance

Reduce operating costs – 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, 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.

Investment

The total investment to have an SQM consultant team conduct and facilitate the development of a VoC Performance Management System Plan is between $15,000 and $20,000. If SQM is asked to assist in implementing the VoC Performance Management System Plan there is a charge of $1,500 per day. There is an additional cost if SQM needs to conduct surveys (i.e., customer, employee or operational). There will also be additional charges to cover applicable taxes, travel and accommodation expenses for an SQM consultant.