A customer who chooses to call your support team has already told you one thing before ever opening their mouth.
They want a rapid resolution to whatever is on their mind.
If a fast and final answer wasn’t their priority, they might be content sending an email, starting a chat, or studying your self-service portal at their convenience. But there’s a reason 61% of customers feel the phone is their best shot at a speedy solution — 43% more than the next-most popular channel.
So what can you do to meet these expectations and improve your first call resolution rates?
If your first thought was more training or better scripts, you probably need to take a few steps back.
Route For Relevance
The best way to increase your odds of providing a satisfactory answer is to anticipate the question. And the best way to anticipate a question is to set up a system that encourages its asker to offer clues.
This abstract idea has a more familiar name in customer support circles: It’s called call routing.
Some companies approach the task by listing separate support lines for separate call categories. For example, they might have one phone number for billing inquiries and another for technical assistance.
Meanwhile, other companies might try to determine a caller’s intent using an IVR menu.
Whichever method you prefer, this initial segmentation essential. Every bit of context a caller can volunteer gives you a better chance at assigning an agent equipped to provide relevant answers.
This simple act of routing customers to agents with the right skills in the right departments immediately improves first call resolution rates by reducing unnecessary call transfers. But to drive further progress, you also need to surround agents with the right resources once they accept the call.
Integrate For Insight
Dialing a specialized support line or pressing “3 for billing inquiries” aren’t the only ways customers hint at their intent. Their prior interactions with your business have likely already left a rich trail of context clues.
CRM databases can tell you about their order history, helpdesk software can tell you about any prior frustrations, and other agents might be able to tell you about their personality type.
Unfortunately for many support teams, the phone channel tends to be far removed from these vital bits of background info.
As a result, agents have to frantically switch back and forth between multiple tools or place customers on hold while consulting with colleagues. And the harder this discovery process is for an agent, the less likely they are to resolve issues in a single call.
The good news is companies no longer need to settle for these chaotic scenes. The arrival of software-based phone systems creates an opportunity to connect the voice channel with the customer context you already have.
CRM databases, helpdesk tools, and even internal collaboration apps can all integrate with software-based phone systems, empowering agents to work from a single space full of relevant customer info.
As a result, agents can study the profile of a caller before picking up and start more conversation anticipating what may be said.
Study for Success
Maximizing the initial context available to agents will help place teams with poor first call resolution rates on a better track. But once this foundational framework is in place, additional improvements will be more difficult to achieve.
Not all customer questions can be anticipated — and knowing the question doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be able to provide a satisfactory answer on the first call. What separates average teams from exceptional teams, then, is the ability to analyze unresolved calls and identify potential patterns.
This hard work may entail many hours listening to call recordings. And it may ultimately reveal the need for strategic changes that go well beyond the voice channel itself.
But you can take heart knowing that even modest improvements in first call resolution rate can have an exponential impact on customer satisfaction.