While customers differ in their personalities, preferences and patterns, there is one unifying thing that brings them all together in a spirit of shared loathing: bouncing around from rep to rep, or being endlessly reminded of the “importance of their call” while they languish on hold. Of course, that’s assuming that most customers will wait on hold in the first place – which is not the case. A survey by live chat software vendor Velaro found that 60% of customers won’t stay on hold for longer than a minute, and 32% won’t wait on hold at all.

Thankfully, however, the flipside is also true: companies that succeed in resolving the majority of calls (or chats) at the first point of contact reap substantial rewards. For example, American Express found that 66% of customers are willing to spend more following an excellent customer service experience. And IBM’s Bluewolf found that in larger organizations, a 1% increase in first call resolution reduces annual operational costs by a whopping $276,000.To point your organization in the right direction, here are 7 tips to improve first call resolution so you can show – rather than tell – customers that “their call is important to you”.

  1. Analyze Repeat Contacts Across all Channels for Root Cause Analysis

As noted by Oracle, root cause analysis helps detect why issues aren’t getting resolved at first contact, or why issues are crossing channels when they shouldn’t (i.e. some customers will agreeably shift or self-shift if they see it as a benefit, such as moving from phone to web, etc.).

  1. Analyze Customer Profiles to Anticipate Needs, and Meet them via Self-Support

While not all issues can be resolved through self-support, many of them can - which isn’t just good news for companies and their beleaguered reps. It’s also a big win for customers. Research by Zendesk found that 50% of customers feel it’s important to solve product/service issues on their own, and the Aspect Consumer Experience Index found that 65% of customers have a positive impression of a company when they can get answers via self-support.

  1. Ensure Teams and Departments are Sharing Information

Reps are positioned to fail - and customers are assured of getting frustrated – when sales, marketing, technical, finance, and other teams aren’t sharing knowledge about what they’re doing now, and what they plan to do in the future. As noted by the training firm Impact Learning: “A com­mon rea­son for repeat cus­tomer calls occurs when there is a dis­con­nect with what the cus­tomer knows or has heard and what the agents know. Under­stand­ably, cus­tomers will become frus­trated if they expect to receive a dis­count, or have heard about an updated ser­vice, and the agents must first con­duct fact check­ing before they can assist the cus­tomer”.

  1. Use IVRs and Skills-Based Routing

IVRs allow customers to identify the problem they’re having or the department/team they wish to connect with. Skills-based routing compliments this feature by increasing the likelihood that customers will connect with a rep who can resolve their issue on the first call, or if that’s not possible, take ownership of the matter and usher it through to resolution. Also, keep in mind that skills-based routing (despite the term) is not limited to pushing calls to reps with specialized training or areas of expertise. Calls can be intelligently routed based on the language spoken, geographic area, demographic characteristics, and so on.

  1. Give Customers the Option to get a Call Back

Giving customers the option to get a call back at a time that fits their schedule is one of those delightful strategies that not only prevents unhappy customers but can actually be positioned as a value add and leveraged as a competitive advantage. For example, as pointed out by CustomerThink.com, having callback technology in place is a vital piece of the customer service puzzle when callers exit the queue or get cut off.

  1. Enhance Employee Engagement with Coaching, Praise & Incentives

Morale has a major, defining impact on first call resolution. As highlighted by DestinationCRM: Engaged employ­ees aspire to solve cus­tomer issues and will go above and beyond to make cus­tomers happy….Man­agers who are able to offer praise and con­struc­tive feed­back are bet­ter able to opti­mize the per­for­mance of their team.” It’s also a good idea to offer incentives that reward employees who adhere to best practices, support their colleagues, and go the extra mile with customers.

  1. Use Zoomin for Salesforce Service Cloud

Zoomin for Salesforce helps companies get closer to their customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey - from initial contact to post-sale support and relationship-building. The solution improves first call resolution and overall customer experience by providing reps with:

  • Notifications when new or updated content is available, so they’re always in the loop vs. blindsided by customer questions.
  • Intelligent content suggestions based on a specific customer’s case information, account details and contact history.
  • The ability to filter suggested content to see what colleagues are using to solve similar cases, as well as create personalized collections of frequently used content.
  • The ability to share answers and insights with customers in real-time (or immediately after an interaction if that is more appropriate) by sending content via personalized emails with links.

The Bottom Line

73% of customers surveyed by Forrester and Salesforce.com said “valuing their time” was the most important thing a company can do to demonstrate good customer service. As such, regardless of whether you run a multi-site contact center or a small team of reps, it’s clearly in your best interest – along with your current and future customers’ - to improve first call resolution. After all, you want customers to be raving fans; not raving mad!

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