Founder & CEO at Millennial Services, a dedicated call-center services provider.
Solving customer complaints at first contact means better customer satisfaction and retention. That is the goal, but how do you get there? What steps can you take to improve your first-touch resolution metrics?
As the president of a call center services provider, I believe the answer is implementing root cause identification and resolution. In doing so, I’ve found you are better able to develop customer service practices that allow your frontline team to resolve customer issues without escalation.
How can you implement root cause identification and resolution?
The best way to improve first-contact resolution is to look into root cause identification. This is a process that requires you to dig in and take an honest look at your service from all angles. Ideally, this process allows you to make changes that ultimately reduce the number of times customers need to contact you. Fewer calls and emails from unsatisfied customers is the goal.
To get started:
1. Define the issue. What is the specific problem your customer or customers are sharing, broken down in simple terms?
2. Gather as much data as possible to identify the problem’s root cause.
3. Once you’ve identified the root cause of the problem, come up with a solution that eliminates or reduces the cause.
Taking steps to reduce customer complaints is an obvious solution. Keep in mind that errors will always occur, though. There is no way to eliminate human error or physical problems completely. Things break, and people make mistakes. You will always need frontline teams to handle customer complaints and questions. The biggest problem isn’t that the customer has an issue or complaint that needs solving. The big problem is when the customer ends the call feeling unsatisfied.
Thus, if calls about a problem still come in, the next best thing is to reach a satisfactory resolution for the customer as quickly as possible. Customers who experience a rapid resolution at first contact are often the most loyal customers you can have. They will trust you to take care of them. And when a customer trusts you, they are far more likely to spread the word about your amazing products, services and customer care to their friends and family.
What happens if you fail during the first contact?
When a customer calls with a problem or question, they are hoping to get it resolved quickly. This motivation isn’t just limited to just calls, however; it applies to emails, chats and social media as well. What makes a first contact resolution successful is solving the problem to the customer’s satisfaction during that first interaction.
Inefficiencies in the customer service process will result in more frustration experienced by the customer. Lack of communication among departments, lack of training and lack of soft skills can lead to lags in customer service resolution. If the customer is bounced around from person to person, they can grow more dissatisfied and require further escalation before the problem can be resolved.
Unfortunately, by the time the call reaches this level, you might have already lost your customer.
How can you improve first contact resolution?
What happens when you apply root cause identification to your resolution process? Identifying the root cause of failed first contact resolution enables your organization to make the necessary changes that will increase your resolution rate.
The importance of training, communication and soft skills cannot be overstated. Ensuring every employee is trained to answer questions and resolve problems is essential.
No customer enjoys getting bounced around, having to repeat their issue and hearing “I don’t know” before being put on hold to wait for the next person. This is a frustrating and all too common experience. Proper training avoids this. The root cause here is a lack of product and service knowledge. When employees don’t have all the information they need, they are not empowered and don’t have the tools to resolve customer problems.
Each employee with the potential for customer contact needs comprehensive product and service training and a working knowledge of all customer service policies and procedures.
When a customer calls with a question about a return policy or warranty information or to report a defective product or service, they are looking for answers and resolution. It is a win when the person answering the call can confidently answer questions and provide a satisfactory solution in the first five minutes.
Dissecting these first-contact wins will typically reveal an employee who was empowered by knowledge and solutions. Add in active listening skills, excellent communication, compassion and a genuine curiosity and desire to provide excellent service, and you will be much more likely to turn a customer from frustrated to impressed.
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