Addressing Low First Contact Resolution: Where to Focus on the Issue?
In today’s highly competitive business environment, simply offering a product or service is no longer sufficient to differentiate yourself. The real competitive advantage lies in delivering exceptional customer experience (CX) through exceptional customer service. Our recent blog post highlighted the significant costs associated with low first contact resolution (FCR) and emphasized that CX is now regarded as equally important as the actual product or service. FCR, a vital performance metric that measures the percentage of customer inquiries or problems resolved during the initial interaction with support agents or self-service channels, demands the attention of companies striving to enhance CX. This is particularly crucial considering that 90 percent of global consumers prioritize issue resolution as their top customer service concern.
Achieving high first contact resolution (FCR) is imperative for companies striving to position themselves as industry frontrunners, cultivating exceptional customer satisfaction, and nurturing enduring relationships. However, the consequences of low FCR rates can be devastating. If frontline agents are unable to resolve issues during initial contact, leading to transfers or follow-up calls, it can have a crippling financial impact on your business. Recent data from a report revealed that poor customer service costs range from $75 billion to $1.6 trillion annually! In addition, low FCR can result in increased operating costs, reduced referrals, brand damage, negative employee and customer experiences, and missed opportunities for repeat sales.
The risks associated with low FCR extend to long-term viability, profitability, brand image, and customer experience. So, where should you address the problem of low FCR? Let’s delve into that further below.
Examining the Locations of Customer Interactions with Brands
Recognizing where customers engage with their preferred brands is crucial when it comes to addressing low first contact resolution rates. Consumer behavior is continually evolving, and the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently transformed how customers interact with businesses. During this period, there was a significant shift towards online interactions as customers sought out digital channels to engage with brands. Today, customers are spending more time online than ever before, and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. However, it’s important to note that many customers still value non-digital channels, emphasizing the need to deliver exceptional experiences both online and offline.
As customers adapt to new habits, valuable insights are emerging that provide a glimpse into the future of customer engagement. Let’s explore some of these trends.
- The Rise of Self-Service: Recent data reveals a notable surge in self-service requests, with 95 percent of companies reporting a significant increase in 2021. This highlights the growing consumer demand for greater speed and convenience. Additionally, 81 percent of consumers express a desire for more self-service options. As consumer expectations continue to rise, 36 percent of customers expect companies to enhance the intelligence of their self-service offerings. Surprisingly, only 11 percent of businesses are prioritizing this aspect. Furthermore, the data emphasizes that 95 percent of consumers attach significant importance to customer service. To meet these evolving needs, companies are planning to expand their digital channels. Companies are actively strategizing to expand their digital channels, with particular emphasis on enhancing chat functionality, improving website access, and optimizing search options. These top digital channels have been identified as key areas for growth and improvement to meet the evolving needs and preferences of customers.
- Decreased Utilization of These Channels: Four communication channels, namely mobile app, text/SMS, online portals, and email, have experienced a decline in their usage. Startlingly, a SuperOffice customer service study revealed that 62 percent of companies fail to respond to customer emails. Even for companies that do respond, the average response time is as long as 12 hours. This is concerning considering that 90 percent of customers consider receiving an instant response to be vital, with 60 percent defining an immediate response as ten minutes or less.
- Significant Surge in Six Channels: Six communication channels are experiencing a substantial increase in popularity, including video chat, social media, messaging, apps, online chat, in-person interactions, and voice conversations. These channels offer customers instant access to support agents, enabling prompt issue resolution—a key attribute of excellent customer experience (CX). Among these channels, one stands out as particularly prominent: voice communication. Even in the digital age, phone calls remain the preferred choice for customers to engage with brands. Why? Voice calls are ideal for addressing urgent or complex issues that require empathy or swift resolution. In fact, live channels such as voice calls are nearly 13 times faster than traditional methods like email or online forms.
- Customer engagement remains as omnichannel as ever, with customers utilizing an average of nine different channels to communicate with businesses. Omnichannel support ensures a continuous connection for consumers across all channels. It enables seamless transfer of customer information and context between channels, eliminating the need for customers to repeat previously shared information. Consistency in customer experience is a top priority, regardless of the engagement channel. However, maintaining high first contact resolution (FCR) rates across multiple channels presents its own set of challenges. While the goal of omnichannel support is to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience, each channel may have its own systems, databases, or workflows, making it difficult to have a unified view of customer interactions. Inadequate integration between channels can result in lost customer context during transitions, leading to longer resolution times or the necessity for transfers.
Voice Communication: Reigning Supreme in the Digital Era
In today’s landscape of abundant communication channels, it is noteworthy that voice communication stands as the unequivocal favorite among customers when it comes to engaging with your brand. This preference for voice calls surpasses other options by a significant margin. Customers are the lifeblood of your business, and their desire for personalized experiences and empathetic customer service agents cannot be underestimated. They seek meaningful interactions with individuals who can truly understand and connect with their needs. While other digital channels may fall short in delivering this level of human connection, voice calls excel in bridging the gap. In fact, data reveals that a substantial 59 percent of consumers prioritize phone calls when reaching out for customer support. This growing inclination towards voice communication underscores the vital role of emotional connections in fostering strong relationships between brands and customers. Whether customers consciously realize it or not, positive experiences leave a lasting impact, driving them to actively seek out that positive feeling once again. By recognizing the power of voice communication, businesses can forge deep and enduring connections with their customers, ensuring loyalty and satisfaction in the long run.
In today’s digital world, emotional connection has emerged as the leading factor in customer experience (CX), prompting brands to enhance human connection, particularly through voice communication. Despite the digital shift, a significant 64 percent of consumers feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of CX, and 71 percent express a preference for interacting with a human rather than an automated process.
While self-service options are important, it is crucial for brands to offer voice channels to enable agents to engage in situations requiring empathy, context, and rapid issue resolution. Voice communication should not be overlooked, and businesses need to determine how it fits into their overall strategy. Flexibility plays a vital role for organizations striving to meet customers’ needs for first contact resolution, whether through live chat today or via phone tomorrow.
These insights into customer interaction preferences highlight the areas that require attention to align with their preferred engagement methods. However, it’s essential to note that understanding these preferences alone does not solve the challenge of low first contact resolution. Rather, it points to where the issue of FCR needs to be addressed. To explore solutions for improving FCR, you can find comprehensive answers in our latest eBook.
Download our eBook: A Modern Approach to Improving First Contact Resolution
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your customer service and overcome low First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates. Download our free eBook, “A Modern Approach to First Contact Resolution,” to unlock the key solutions you’ve been searching for. This invaluable resource unveils how the powerful combination of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) can revolutionize your operations, empowering your front-line agents to swiftly and efficiently resolve customer issues on their preferred communication channels. Elevate your customer experience and regain your competitive edge by downloading this game-changing eBook today!