Call Centers

EXPERT ADVICE

Customer Operations Excellence: Edging Toward Your FCR Revolution

Contact center managers have started to think beyond traditional measures like “service levels,” “average talk time” and “wait time.” Slowly yet steadily, FCR has found its way into customer operations dashboards.

Being a dual function of customer experience and contact center efficiency — which by themselves are seminal measures for ops performance — FCR accurately portrays the overall health of your customer service.

Overcoming the Open-Loop FCR Trap

Given the significance of FCR, it has always been subject to aggressive treatment by ops teams. Unfortunately, there is a tail-wagging-the-dog syndrome, since an FCR measurement target (usually in the 80 percent plus range) is preset and only subsequently are the measurement modalities agreed upon. Since this target tends to stare at center managers, there is a tendency to lighten the scope of center operations to look good and, more importantly, damage customer experience and impede innovation.

Contact centers end up diluting the FCR measure through an open-loop tradition. More often than not, customer requests and possible opportunities that necessitate a specialist “Tier 3” treatment are considered outside the contact center service boundary. This results in a high, yet inaccurate, FCR score, and it also spoils customer experience. In short, the efficiency aspect of FCR has been measured, but the customer experience part has not.

Doing it the right way means that a customer request that gets transferred or escalated to a specialist team is kept open by the center until the customer acknowledges closure. Aided by CRM tools, the center supervisors and managers can escalate ageing queries that are still open on specialists to respective management teams for prioritization.

However such a request isn’t treated as an FCR (if it is not resolved from a customer perspective, it is not resolved). Here’s where organizations need to understand that it is acceptable to have lower FCRs if the case is handled the way it needs to be. Agent efficiency can very easily be measured through other traditional metrics in this case.

From a contact center manager’s perspective, it is tricky to think beyond an open-loop culture, as the incentives are not well defined. It is imperative for sales and marketing leadership teams to push this culture top-down. It is also crucial for the leadership team to align center and agent incentives such that the FCR culture change is welcome.

When the segregation of duties is set right, customer ops innovation will automatically follow, thanks to the power of FCR measure! Contrary to traditional beliefs, this culture does not escalate service costs.

So, the next time someone tells you that the FCR for its center is 95 percent, get into the details.

Measuring FCR

It is as important to measure FCR precisely as it has been to define it. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for measuring FCR accurately. Generally, either one of the customer experience or the center efficiency measures ends up dominating the FCR score, depending on the method used.

If both of them are present in the right proportion, then there arises the question of statistical significance. Here is a list of pros and cons of methods currently used in the industry.table { border-collapse:collapse; border-spacing:0; empty-cells:show }.P1 { line-height:115%; margin-bottom:0.139in; margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-top:0in; text-indent:0in; font-family:Calibri; writing-mode:lr-tb; }.P6 { line-height:115%; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-top:0in; text-indent:0in; font-family:Calibri; writing-mode:lr-tb; font-style:italic; }.P7 { line-height:115%; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-top:0in; text-indent:0in; font-family:Calibri; writing-mode:lr-tb; font-weight:normal; }.Table1 { margin-left:0in; writing-mode:lr-tb; }.Table1_A1 { padding-left:0.075in; padding-right:0.075in; padding-top:0in; padding-bottom:0in; border-left-width:0.0353cm; border-left-style:solid; border-left-color:#7ba0cd; border-right-width:0.0353cm; border-right-style:solid; border-right-color:#7ba0cd; border-top-width:0.0353cm; border-top-style:solid; border-top-color:#7ba0cd; border-bottom-style:none; }.Table1_A2 { padding-left:0.075in; padding-right:0.075in; padding-top:0in; padding-bottom:0in; border-left-width:0.0353cm; border-left-style:solid; border-left-color:#7ba0cd; border-right-width:0.0353cm; border-right-style:solid; border-right-color:#7ba0cd; border-top-style:none; border-bottom-style:none; }.Table1_A5 { padding-left:0.075in; padding-right:0.075in; padding-top:0in; padding-bottom:0in; border-left-width:0.0353cm; border-left-style:solid; border-left-color:#7ba0cd; border-right-width:0.0353cm; border-right-style:solid; border-right-color:#7ba0cd; border-top-style:none; border-bottom-width:0.0353cm; border-bottom-style:solid; border-bottom-color:#7ba0cd; }.Table1_A { }.Table1_B { }.Table1_D { }

METHOD

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DIMENSION

CENTER EFFICIENCY DIMENSION

LIMITATIONS

Quality Monitoring

STRONG

STRONG

Statistical significance and cost of measurement

Customer Surveys

STRONG

MEDIUM

Traditional response rates to surveys – overall coverage

Agent’s Sign-off

WEAK

MEDIUM

Most common approach today – inaccurate approach

Customer Analytics

MEDIUM

STRONG

Will require mature CRM processes for accuracy, tough measure

To overcome the inherent limitations, centers should look at presenting FCR scores using three of the methods above: quality monitoring, customer surveys and customer analytics. Within a few iterations, the center should be capable of determining the longer-term methods for FCR measurement.

Again, a good practice here would be to help the FCR measurement method settle down over a few months before throwing number targets at the center. Otherwise, centers tend to succumb to measurement pressures and end up once again at the starting point.

FCR is a dominant customer ops metric. It does an instant, 360 degree health check on your customer experience, center and agent performance. However, centers should avoid some of the traps discussed here in edging toward their FCR revolution.

Getting to an ideal to-be state poses more organizational change challenges than you would imagine. It would touch almost all divisions and groups that would ever participate in a customer response. Management teams will need to sign-up to this change and help percolate this to all affected parties.

It is very important to note that there is no proven bottom-up way to do this. There are companies that have carried out this FCR transformation successfully, and it shows in their results!


Badri Srinivasan is a principal with the CRM practice atInfosys Technologies.

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