Chances are good that you’re using first call resolution (FCR) as a key metric in measuring the quality of your customer support program. How’s that going for you?
Hopefully your answer is â€œgreat!â€ But if your answer is anything less great than great (see what I did there), then it’s worth taking a look at possible root causes. And there is no better place to start than with your customer service agents (CSAs).
If FCR metrics are in the CSAs hands, make sure you set your agents up for success. The foundation for their success starts in the recruiting phase, progresses to training, and results in your trust.
Hire the best candidates
Be very choosy about who you want to represent your company. Every day your CSAs experience a multitude of customer touch points, each with the ability to enhance or destroy the customer’s relationship with your company. The nature of what CSAs do leaves them (and you, as an employer) vulnerableâ€”more so than, say, a software programmer.
Software development typically has a number of quality checks built into the process: testing from QA, beta releases, release notes. CSAs don’t have the same safety net; there is no test drive and each interaction with a customer is unique (even if similar to other interactions).
Given the importance of the role, good hiring is arguably more important than good training. Character is key. When interviewing, don’t settle for less than a person who exhibits these qualities: polite, patient, and professional. Many large companies use a rigorous hiring process that may include behavioral testing or scenario-based testing.
If you’re a smaller company, you may be tempted to go on gut instinct alone when hiring. Regardless of the route you take for bringing in talent within your budget, don’t underestimate the importance of hiring well-qualified and trainable candidates.
Thoroughly train your team
Once you get the right team in place, train them as if your company’s livelihood depends on it; after all, in large part it does. A survey by American Express in 2011 found that 3 in 5 Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. Google â€œthe cost of poor customer serviceâ€ and you’ll come up with 67 million results; clearly somebody has been doing the math on this topic.
Training must not only cover the customer support system, processes, and procedures of the CSA role, but also the company products and services. Give your agents a holistic view of your company and don’t silo their learning. Often having a greater context for a situation allows for a better ability to effectively come up with a solution.
Trust your CSAs to make the right call
After being trained, mentored, and supervised, your fledgling bird is ready to fly solo. And by fledgling bird, I mean your newly-minted CSA. And while you may not be ready to completely hand over the reins for a period of time, your goal should be to ultimately have enough confidence in your agent that you will give them the authority to resolve issues on their own (with the help of a good knowledge base and other tools).
While it certainly makes sense to have multiple tiers of service, particularly for technical support, do your customers a favor and create processes and policies that keep CSAs out of â€œred tapeâ€ and needless escalations. Allow the agent to do what they’ve been trained to do best: keep customers satisfied and coming back for business.
PhaseWare’s hosted solutions prepare your CSAs for success by providing intuitive interfaces and handy tools that support first call resolution. If your current support software is anything less than easy-to-use, it’s time to explore a better way with PhaseWare.