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First Call Resolution, Customer Satisfaction, and the Cloud Call Center

First call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) are virtually the same thing to your customers. Cloud call center features can help with both.

Earlier we wrote a blog post to explain that focusing on optimizing on Average Handle Time was misguided effort that might control costs in the short-term, but hurt sales revenue in the long-term. See First Call Resolution vs. Average Handle Time .  In this post we make it clear why First Call Resolution drives the bottom line, and what you can do to improve it.

First Call Resolution (FCR) Drives Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Revenue

There are two memorable results customers experience when calling a contact center for assistance or information.

  • The caller reaches a knowledgeable and enabled customer service agent or sales agent. The question or request for assistance is handled reasonably quickly by the first person who answers the phone, to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Or, it takes a long time to reach a customer service agent. The agent doesn’t have the information or authority to help, and the caller is transferred or sent to voicemail. The caller doesn’t get information or a problem resolution.

These are dramatically different, yet common, occurrences. As ordinary as these are, they have a dramatically different effects on future company revenue.

Among the studies cited by our references below, you’ll one study that reported nearly one in five customers failed to get a satisfactory response on the first call. Of these customers, 43% of those said that they planned to get another vendor. Up to 25% weren’t sure, so that only 32% were planning on continuing as customers for sure.

Call Center First Call Resolution Drives Customer Satisfaction.

Cloud Call Center Features Help First Call Resolution Deliver Customer Satisfaction

Using the slightly exaggerated assumption that every customer will eventually call for some kind of support, we could project that we’ll eventually lose a huge fraction of all our customers, including up to 20% x 68% = %13.6 of all customers who call today because we can’t deliver FCR first call resolution.

In other words, lack of first call resolution yields reduced customer satisfaction, a smaller customer base, with fewer renewals and less renewal revenue.

The Genesis of Average Handle Time – An Example from the Software Publishing Industry

Average Handle Time is a favorite call center KPI that evolved in the error of long wait times and long call queues.

Time spent on the phone for support and service, in particular, is an expense to the company called.

For example, in 1988, the early days of software publishing, gross margins on packaged software started out at up to $250 per package. Salesman could afford to drive their cars to business appointments two blocks off Main Street and sell software.

With gross margins high, software support departments began as small groups that provided phone support, replaced defective media, and published tips and tricks to help customers make the software products fulfill needs. The support department organized group meetings, published elaborate how-to documentation, and wrote help documentation for future releases of the product.

User manuals provided with the typical software product were enormous, with hundreds of pages in small three-ring binders. The manuals were filled with complex instructions gathered by writers who had little experience with the product. Their explanations of how to use the product “beat around the bush” because the writers didn’t really know how to use the product at an expert level.

Because the products were fairly huge, because navigation in pre-Windows days was always different in each product, and because the user manuals were hard to use, lots of support calls were generated. With such a large margin on each product, there was enough cash flow involved to maintain a consultative relationship with each customer run by the support group.

By 1990, however, packaged software was a commodity product. Packaged software that formerly sold at $499.99 by commissioned sales professionals now sold at $99.99 by mail order or in large computer retail stores. The gross margin on each sale fell from $250 per package to as low as $15 per package.

With this low margin, the entire profit generated from the sale of one seat of a software product could be lost on the very first support call. Each subsequent call represented a loss of $15 per call, on average.

Customers were faced with very lengthy delays on each support calls. The queue times were so long that some companies (notably WordPerfect Corporation) even employed disk jockeys to play music and entertain customers in long call queues.

The typical call center manager faced with this new reality did four things:

  1. Took ownership of the testing and improvement of product documentation,
  2. Installed call center call automation and call queues to manage the flood of support calls,
  3. Installed wallboards and queue time tracking tools to manage queue wait times, and
  4. Trained and encouraged support staff members to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible.

Support representatives, in particular, were offered incentives to reduce time on call – the equivalent of Average Handle Time. This was done because the biggest complaint from customers was the long wait time to get to a customer service agent in the call center.

Whether or not the problem was solved on the call was perceived to be less important. Average Handle Time was born.

Why First Call Resolution (FCR) Is Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction, from the customer point of view, is equivalent to getting a good result. Nothing short of a good result is a win. A good result for the customer means getting the information needed or problem solved, first time, in a reasonable amount of time, and with no aggravation.

Aggravation can result from

  • poorly configured IVR menus,
  • long wait times,
  • poor line quality,
  • being asked for customer information again and again,
  • being transferred repeatedly,
  • unskilled agents,
  • poorly trained agents,
  • agents who can’t speak the language of the caller, or
  • reaching a dead end

With all these aggravations cast aside, and a direct delivery of the correct information or solution to the customer on the first call, the customer will report being satisfied with the result.

Even with a few of these aggravations in place, getting the right information or a good solution still delivers the result the customer wants.

There are positive financial benefits to the company for delivering a good result and retaining the customer. Companies should make reducing the aggravations and increasing first call resolution the real goal.

Cloud Call Center Features Help First Call Resolution (FCR)

Leadership focus on the goals of reducing customer aggravation and increasing first call resolution can get results.  Training and incentives help toward improving first call resolution.  Modern cloud call center technology can help too.

A cloud call center is a virtual call center, based on a hosted PBX and smart queues. The cloud call center has no physical equipment in your call center, just your internet connections. The VoIP-based communications and call queues are hosted at the data centers operated by your VoIP service provider.

Cloud call center services like AVOXI SmartQueue virtual call center offer excellent features that help you avoid aggravating your customer and help with first call resolution so that your customer satisfaction KPI goes up.

Customer AggravationCloud Call Center Feature That Helps
Poor Line QualityToll Free Number Failover and Redundant Routing
Long Wait TimesTime of Day Call Routing, Inbound Call Queues
Unskilled Agents, Agents Who Can’t Speak Caller’s Language, Being Transferred RepeatedlySkills Based Routing
Reaching a Dead EndCall Forwarding
Poorly Trained AgentsReal-Time Monitoring, Call Recording and Storage
Poorly Configured IVR MenusIVR/Auto Attendant With Menus to Match Customer Intention

You can find a detailed writeup for each of these helpful features at AVOXI Smart Queue virtual call center.

With leadership and cloud call center features like these, you can deliver satisfying results to customers on first call, and improve first call resolution, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.

First Call Resolution – Customer Satisfaction – Cloud Call Center References

Bruce Brownlee

Bruce Brownlee

Bruce Brownlee is AVOXI's Digital Marketing Director. Bruce's background includes lead generation, SEO, web analytics, and web development for AVOXI. Bruce has an engineering, telecommunications, and software development background, working with Lotus Development, Blackstone & Cullen, EMC, Cox Communications, Travel Channel, Brand Fever, and AVOXI.
Bruce Brownlee
Bruce Brownlee

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