Here’s an easy, low-cost way to increase average order size and improve customer retention: solve customer problems in the first attempt. The advantages are many:

  1. Lower operating costs,
  2. Better upselling opportunities
  3. Better customer satisfaction, and 
  4. Revenue growth. 

There are many ways to measure and improve your first-time fix or resolution rate, from automated IVR surveys to tracking callbacks from the same customers within 7 days of the first one.

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If you use a CRM system, you could also track the reason code applied by agents to customer accounts at the end of every interaction. Studies have shown a clear correlation between CSAT scores and first contact resolution. The reason is simple: most customers do not have the patience to call repeatedly for the same issue. One of the top reasons for negative reviews is that brands do not track or look for ways to improve their first-time fix rate. Online businesses must, therefore, focus on this aspect of customer service to drive customer satisfaction.

7 Strategies to Improve Your First Time Fix Rates

Here are 7 step by step strategies that can help you take your first contact resolution rate to the next level:

1. Identify the true reason for customer contact

A Root Cause Analysis is the first step in getting to know why customers calling back about the same problems over and over again. Here are some simple steps to follow: analyze CSat survey results and drill down to specific customer interactions to pinpoint the exact reasons for a customer having to contact you for the second time. Look for tell-tale signs like the number of transfers, long hold times, manager escalations, and follow-up calls.

2. Benchmark team performance

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The next step is to compare the resolution rates for individual agents and find the average for the team as a whole. According to analytics specialist, Groove, a 70% first contact resolution rate is the standard for most industries. However, it is important to set a benchmark that is realistic and preferably is the same as the average for your niche.

Once you have the team average, identify the agents who are relatively worse in terms of resolution rate and check for recurring issues like knowledge gaps, process-related issues, and training needs, if any. Listen to specific calls and correlate with CSat survey findings to identify specific contexts in which your agents have been unable to answer customer questions effectively.

3. Understand customer needs

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The performance of your agents is only part of the story. There could be larger issues with regard to your business policies like return window, warranty, terms of use, and shipping costs. Based on the customer data collected by your CRM, segment your customer base on demographic lines to better understand their needs. This can help you objectively identify ways to improve customer experience such as updating FAQs and adding self-service options like chatbots.

4. Leverage technological tools

The number of customer support channels has increased substantially compared to a decade ago. This can add to the workload of agents and affect their cognitive ability to understand and empathize with customers. Analyze whether your agents are able to access a customer’s account history quickly enough while they are speaking with them. 

If not, your helpdesk software and CRM need to be integrated with each other to allow agents to access account-related/ticket information in real-time. This will provide them with more background information about a situation and help them be more confident when offering solutions to customers. This would also reduce the need to transfer calls to other departments.

5. Better call routing and cross-training agents

One of the main reasons for customer dissatisfaction is being transferred multiple times to different agents. This increases the amount of effort a customer has to put in to get his or her query resolved. Consider adopting better call routing strategies based on the specific reason why a customer is calling customer support. For example, if a customer has called about an upgrade, he/she can be connected to a retention specialist right away, instead of being connected to a general support agent.

On the same note, agents must be cross-trained on multiple skillsets in order to handle multiple types of queries. This can help enhance their knowledge and lower your operating costs. Cross-trained agents are also likely to be more proactive in assisting customers as they have a wider business perspective.

6. Empower agents to offer credits, discounts, and waivers:

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Agents are usually unable to satisfy customer demands for spot refunds, discounts without transferring to a manager. This can result in customer dissatisfaction and affect first contact resolution. By pre-authorizing experienced agents to approve credits and discounts, you can improve customer experience and enable those agents to act as problem-solvers rather than just ‘messengers’.

7. Coaching and development

Customer support agents are often required to work on multiple systems while speaking with a customer. This requires them to be hands-on when it comes to processing knowledge. On-going training is critical in order to ensure that agents are able to do both and still empathize with customers.

Providing regular training in soft-skills and productivity techniques can help them master both and drive better overall efficiency. Sensitize them about how their work affects other teams and the business as a whole. Allow newer agents to shadow their more experienced colleagues in other teams and organize regular team briefings for them.

Last Words

First contact resolution can impact not just CSat but also the overall profitability of your online business in terms of repeat sales and average order size. Done well, it can also help you differentiate your brand from the competition. If you are considering an outsourced customer support provider, be sure to ask about their first contact resolution rate. This can help you make an objective decision. Helplama’s data-centric customer support philosophy ensures that performance metrics like first contact resolution are tracked and reported in real-time. This gives you complete visibility into whether or not your customer support goals are being met. We are easy to work with. We operate on the ‘no contract, on-demand’ model which gives you maximum flexibility and cost-effectiveness

Contact us today for more information!