Aiming for First Call Resolution
Article by Donna Earl
Help Desks chase FCR as a metric and metric merit badge. What can the help desk manager do to promote first call resolution within the help desk team? I recently experienced a support issue that provided me with insight regarding a coaching moment for the manager of the help desk I contacted. From my perspective, the top three reasons first call resolution fails are:
- Wrong agent/bad training. Your help desk’s support is only as good as the agent offering it. During my experience of FCR failure, couldn’t tell if the agent was not suited for the job, or poorly trained in communication skills. Either way, the agent was either the wrong candidate, or an okay candidate for the job with the wrong (or no) training on how to listen effectively, ask relevant questions and enunciate troubleshooting instructions. The result was a very long and circuitous conversation, which didn’t lead to resolution. Any manager or supervisor monitoring the call would have plenty of coaching/training opportunities.
- Complicated problem, which requires escalation. In my case, the problem was beyond the scope of first tier support. Unfortunately 28 minutes of my time and the agent’s time were wasted in coming to this conclusion. I actually decided to end the call, call back, and take my chances on another agent. When I told the second agent my problem and what had transpired in the previous call, he immediately escalated my call to someone who resolved the problem within 3 minutes. Not only was FCR merit badge not earned by the first agent, but the agent’s talk time average was dinged too. When agents are coached, they need to be reassured that escalating a call when necessary is preferable to frustrating an end user with no timely resolution.
- Sometimes the end user is the problem. Yes, I’ll repeat that: sometimes the user is their own worst enemy. While call monitoring for clients, I’m always amazed at users who call without error code, call when they’re away from equipment, or a host of other excuses for not being prepared and ready to problem solve. However the responsibility for first call resolution (and efficient talk time) is still the agent’s goal. Some companies encourage the agent to request users phone back with necessary information, in the interest of talk time stats. Other organizations emphasize FCR and the lack of resolution would work against the agent’s stats. When coaching agents, explain clear guidelines for preference for handling underprepared users.
To boost first call resolution, without jeopardizing talk time stats, never underestimate the power of call monitoring and targeted coaching to assist your agents in effective call handling. They need ongoing support in call handling skills, escalating calls with confidence, and handling complex situations in a user friendly and time efficient manner.
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