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First-Contact Resolution

  • ID: 42947
  • Report
  • November 2000
  • 99 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Fifteen organizations participated in the study; eight sponsored the study, and seven participated as benchmarking partners (those identified by the study team as having strong first-contact resolution practices).

STUDY FOCUS

Drawing input from RDC and PAG experts and secondary research literature, the
study team identified four key areas for research. These areas guided the design of the data collection instruments and were the basis for the key findings. A brief description of the four areas is provided below.

1. DETERMINATION OF THE OPTIMUM LEVEL OF FIRSTCONTACT
RESOLUTION
- Defining first-contact resolution
- Providing easy access to the right contact; eliminating calls to the wrong
department
- Ensuring customer-friendly policies (i.e., eliminating the need for customers to provide copies of documents or information or to confirm their orders in writing (fax) after a call)
- Using customer and productivity measures to analyze the return on investment for first-contact resolution

2. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OPTIMUM LEVEL OF FIRSTCONTACT
RESOLUTION
- Organizing the workforce to enhance first-contact resolution
- Empowering, training, and monitoring representatives to optimize first-contact resolution
- Enabling representatives through technology
- Providing customers a consistent level of resolution whether they contact the
center through e-mail, Web form, chats, or telephone
- Creating an escalation process that is seamless from the customers point of view
- Developing interdepartmental relationships and processes for transparent handoffs and feedback on resolution
- Engineering the processes for successful first-contact resolution
- Making it easy to resolve correctly the first time

3. MEASUREMENT OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE FIRSTCONTACT RESOLUTION INITIATIVE
- Using effective tools (i.e., automation) to track resolution in complex
environments
- Linking first-contact resolution to customer satisfaction and customer retention
- Tracking resolution data so it can be used for continuous improvement

4. DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE CUSTOMER AND SUPPLIER FEEDBACK MECHANISMS CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF BEST-PRACTICE COMPANIES

Best-practice partners were selected based on their ability to:
- understand first-contact resolution within a larger customer-centric strategy,
- define first-contact resolution from a customer s point of view,
- know what level of first-contact resolution customers expect,
- be technologically equipped to provide the appropriate level of first-contact
resolution,
- support a complex array of products and services,
- resolve issues with customers that contact its center through multiple access
channels (e-mail, Web forms, telephone calls, etc.),
- track and measure first-contact resolution,
- improve based on first-contact resolution data,

- have documented escalation and handoff policies and procedures for seamless
resolution, and
- have active interdepartmental communication linkages.

After interviewing best-practice organizations and examining data collected from both partners and sponsors, the following key findings were identified.

DETERMINATION OF THE OPTIMAL LEVEL OF FIRST-CONTACT
RESOLUTION

Key Finding 1
Best-practice organizations define first-contact resolution in response to customer needs.

Key Finding 2
Successful contact centers set different targets for first-contact resolution based on factors such as customer type, customer profitability, and cost savings.

Key Finding 3
Best-practice organizations indicated that listening to the voice of the customer is key to understanding what level of first-contact resolution the customer expects.

Key Finding 4
Instead of calculating how much it will cost to achieve first-contact resolution, bestpractice organizations focus primarily on how much it costs NOT to resolve during firstcontact resolution.

Key Finding 5
Best-practice organizations educate internal departments to reduce the number of misdirected calls or calls to the wrong department.

Key Finding 6
Best-practice organizations look for opportunities to provide customers with more friendly processes.

Key Finding 7
Best-practice organizations repeatedly communicate with their customers to set
expectations and optimize first-contact resolution.

Implementation of the Optimal Level of First-Contact
Resolution

Key Finding 8
Best-practice organizations organize their workforce to enhance first-contact resolution.

Key Finding 9
Best-practice organizations look for a specific skill set when hiring agents to work in empowered contact centers.

Key Finding 10
Best-practice organizations use a variety of methods to empower employees but are still challenged by getting their employees to use the empowerment.

Key Finding 11
Training is a key component in optimizing first-contact resolution.

Key Finding 12
Best-practice organizations use automation to monitor for first-contact resolution.

Key Finding 13
Best-practice organizations equip their agents with detailed processes and high-tech tools to solve customer problems for remote resolution.

Key Finding 14
Best-practice organizations establish a timeframe to solve problems and monitor
customers requests.

Key Finding 15
Best-practice organizations use a formal escalation process to assist agents when they have difficulty addressing customer issues and problems.

Key Finding 16
Study participants feel that the relationship between first-contact resolution and employee/customer turnover is intuitive.

Key Finding 17
Best-practice organizations use employee incentives to achieve agent buy-in for firstcontact resolution.

Key Finding 18
Best-practice organizations use various technologies to enable their contact centers to achieve first-contact resolution.

Key Finding 19
Best-practice organizations indicate that interdepartmental relationships are critical for successful handling of first-contact resolution.

Key Finding 20
Best-practice organizations struggle to define first-contact resolution for different access channels.

Key Finding 21
Many best-practice organizations spend considerable time and money to prevent fraud and loss, although only a small percentage of customers are fraudulent.

Measurement of the Effectiveness of First-Contact
Resolution

Key Finding 22
Contact centers are not yet able to measure multiple contact points using different channels of service.

Key Finding 23
Documentation of first-contact resolution can tell companies much about their contact centers.

Key Finding 24
Best-practice organizations track first-contact resolutions for continuous improvement.

Methodology

The study used APQC s consortium benchmarking four-phase methodology: planning,
collecting, analyzing/reporting, and adapting.
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Executive Summary 4
Key Findings 11
Partner Presentations
Xerox Corporation 34
John Hancock Financial Services Inc. 44
Lucent Technologies Inc. 51
Global Crossing Ltd. 61
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