Agents are the first and most important line of defense when it comes to improving first call resolution (FCR). It is therefore important that they know the importance of FCR and have a comprehensive understanding of what they can do to help increase it. Below is a how-to guide for agents that will help them increase FCR:
1. Make sure you understand the customer’s needs
When interacting with callers, it is important that you are pleasant, listen carefully to the customer’s needs and be sure that you fully understand them before you start to address their issue. If you ever have any doubt about the customer’s needs you should ask them to clarify.
Examples of clarifying questions are:
- “I am not sure I completely understand your issue. Can you please elaborate?”
- “I am very sorry but I seem to be confused. Can you please explain to me your issue again?”
You can also ask probing questions that will help you obtain more information such as:
- “When did this issue begin?”
- “How long has this been occurring?”
- “Can you tell me exactly what you were doing when the issue started?”
These questions are often easier for the customer to answer and can be less irritating for the customer.
2. Set appropriate expectations
Once you have a good understanding of the caller’s needs, let them know when they can expect to have their issue resolved. This can be as simple as saying:
- “I’m going to look into your billing issue right now. It should only be a few minutes before it is resolved.”
- “This issue is a bit complicated. Stay with me on the line and I should be able to let you know how I can fix it in 2 minutes.”
This will help the caller know that you are working on the issue and have a realistic understanding of how long it will take to fix it (so they can plan accordingly).
3. Keep the call informed about the progress
Once you start working on the issue, keep the caller informed about your progress. Let them know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Also, let them know how much longer they can expect to wait.
This will help keep them patient and they will be less likely to hang up if they know you are still there and working on their issue.
4. Let the customer know that you are aware of the urgency/complexity of the issue
It is often reassuring to the customer when you communicate an understanding of the importance of their issue. When it is an urgent matter, reassure them that you know it is. You can say:
- “I understand that this billing issue is urgent. I will do my best to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
- “In this case, time is of the essence. I am going to conference in my manager to help me expedite this issue.”
If you take this extra step, your caller will appreciate your effort and will be more patient while you work.
5. Be confident
When you know the answer to the caller’s question, be confident when you answer. Avoid saying things like, “I think this should work,” “I hope this will fix your issue” and “I am not sure this is right, but let’s try anyway.”
These phrases will scare your caller and they will be more likely to ask to speak with a manager or hang up and try to reach a more competent agent.
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6. Don’t give information that you are not sure about
If you are not sure about something, don’t guess. Make sure that you take the time to look up the answer, conference in a manager or chat with a more senior agent. If you guess wrong, the caller will have to callback.
7. Conference in manager, senior support agent or specialized support agent when necessary
If you don’t know how to resolve a caller’s issue, conference in someone who can help. This could mean contacting a technical support agent, a more senior agent or a manager. Before doing so, make it clear to the caller that you will be conferencing in someone who can help so they know what to expect.
8. Follow through on commitments
Once you make a commitment, follow through. If you say you will attend to their next issue after you fix their first one, don’t forget to address it. It might help to take notes, write a check list and check in with the customer after you resolved an issue.
9. Ask the customer if their issue has been adequately resolved
Once you have done your best to resolve an issue, check to make sure. Ask the customer directly if they issue has been fixed. You should also ask if they are satisfied with how it was fixed. This will dramatically reduce repeat calls.
10. Ask the customer if they have any additional issues or questions
Once you have resolved an issue to the customer’s expectations, ask if they have any additional issues, questions or concerns. Give them sufficient time to think and respond to your questions.
11. Ask the customer about their experience
Finally, no matter how well you think you handled the call, you should always ask the customer directly about their experience. You can never be sure of how well you did unless you ask.
These 11 techniques that will help increase FCR should be followed on a consistent basis. If you take the time to make sure the customer has a positive experience and all of their issues were resolved the first time, they will be less likely to call back about the same issue and FCR will increase.
FCR is a measure of efficiency and effectiveness and can provide an overall measure of how well your agents, teams and call centers are performing. When you engage in a concentrated effort to improve FCR, you will increase the quality of agent interactions, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. These changes will have an enormous impact on your company and can help to ensure that your company’s reputation is top notch for years to come.