Do you think that in order to satisfy one set of stakeholders you need to ignore the needs of others? What’s critically important to customers, employees, and shareholders?
We measure how we satisfy the needs of our customers through customer satisfaction surveys, net promoter scores, customer effort feedback, and retention metrics.
We measure how we satisfy the needs of our employees via employee satisfaction surveys, employee engagement surveys, and exit interviews.
Finally, we measure how we satisfy the needs of our shareholders through financial statements, stock price, and earnings statements.
There is not one single metric that is shared by key stakeholders.
The Stakeholder Battle
Imagine attending an annual customer service organization budget meeting including finance, sales/marketing, and customer service leadership teams. Sound familiar?
First, finance explains how expenses must be reduced and identifies key opportunities – reducing average handle time and increasing rep utilization. You watch the customer service vice president turn greenish. He’s trying to figure out how to “hammer” reps to speak more quickly in an attempt to reduce average handle time and how to schedule bathroom breaks during times of peak volume.
Next, sales and marketing talks about how customers are fleeing because they’re not getting compensated following a service failure. They recommend compensating customers for every failure to make them feel better. Their strategy of buying happiness causes finance to demand a business case for this incremental spending.
Finally, customer service discusses high attrition and the need to provide more time off the phone for training and scheduling flexibility. Finance asks about the incremental cost. And on it goes.
So What’s the Answer?
Wouldn’t it be great to come up with a strategy that would satisfy the needs of each of the stakeholders simultaneously? Let’s look at first contact resolution.
By definition, first contact resolution means that a customer’s issue is resolved the first time he or she contacts a company. In a broad definition this may require an outreach to a customer to provide additional information, but from a customer perspective he or she is done after the initial contact. To successfully achieve FCR requires streamlined policies and procedures, effective tools and empowering reps (with controls). It also requires that controls are put in place to ensure that it doesn’t drive other metrics like handle time or hold time in the wrong direction.
How can FCR satisfy all stakeholders?
From a finance perspective it is one and done. Their solution of reducing average handle time actually creates adverse behaviors where reps complete calls quickly without regard to the final outcome. The result is that customers may need to call back to follow-up on an issue that wasn’t addressed properly during the first contact. It’s more cost effective to have one contact of seven minutes than two contacts of five minutes each.
From a sales and marketing perspective, a customer is much happier and expends less effort if an issue is resolved in a single contact. This drives loyalty more than trying to buy happiness. Compensation is a Band-Aid – organizations need to fix the customer’s issue – or even better, prevent the issue (but that’s another conversation).
From a customer service perspective, representatives really want to help customers, but faced with unfriendly policies/procedures, poor tools, and the rush to give answers, they shortchange them. Call center employees will be happier and more engaged if they have the ability to truly assist customers. This, in turn, reduces attrition and impacts other metrics such as average handle time, training costs, and more.
So what does all this mean? With the proper focus, shared strategic vision, and organizational alignment, companies can satisfy the requirements of all stakeholders using first contact resolution.
Scott Sachs works with Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in creating first-rate customer experiences.
Edited by Alisen Downey