Reduce Customer Attrition
January 17, 2011
Do you have a process to handle the second call differently to the first?
I just changed my DSL provider of 10 years and the major contributor to my decision was the fact that by the fourth call in one morning, the technician was making the same suggestion the previous three had made – that I call back if the problem persisted … and that was after they had read the notes from the previous three failed attempts at resolution. The problem: the fourth agent was no more equipped or empowered to resolve my problem than the first. Of course, when I called the fifth time to cancel my account, I was offered specialist help but by then it was too late. The damage to a long-standing relationship was more than done.
There’s recently been a lot of discussion about First Call Resolution (FCR), particularly as it relates to a measure of customer experience. Common across all the discussion is a lack of agreement on exactly what FCR means and how to define it – and the customer often has an entirely different view to that of the supplier. Also common is the realization that, with the best will, tools and people in the world, there will always be second-call situations.
What's not common is to find a company with a second-call resolution strategy. Second Call Resolution (SCR) is about the process of handling the second call differently from the moment it hits your inbound switch and it may even apply to what appears at the switch as a first call but has resulted from failed self-service or chat attempts. At the recent Call Center Optimization Forum in Tampa (http://www.callcenteroptimizationforum.com) I took a straw-poll and only one of the companies represented had a specific process to handle the second call differently.
The first step to a second-call resolution strategy is to decide how you will identify the repeat caller. This can be easier said than done, especially since we often can’t even define FCR. Technology exists to match the incoming caller id against the inbound call history but perhaps the easier method is to ask the caller using the first question in the IVR. (For the record, my ISP did identify me as a repeat caller in the IVR but stopped there. Perhaps they were merely measuring failed FCR.)
One thing is for sure, your customers’ perception is your reality, and if the customer thinks it’s a repeat call their frustration is probably high whether you class it a repeat call or not. However you catch it, identifying a repeat call at least gives you the chance to warn your associate before they answer the call.
The second step to SCR is to decide how you will handle the repeat caller. Who gets it? Do you give the option of speaking to the same agent, a supervisor or a specialist? Do you automatically route to a ‘save’ team? Do you treat the call with higher priority, perhaps move it to the front of the queue? The answer will depend on your business model and brand values but it is important that you ask the question and consciously decide. Don’t leave it to chance.
The third step to SCR is to equip and empower your associates to provide resolution. Cicero XM exists to provide associates with the information they need, when they need it but as with the previous steps, the strategy starts with the process and the people, and it will depend on how you decided to route the call. If the second call goes back to the main associate pool, then you have to equip and train everyone for what could be unique situations. If the repeat call is identified up-front as ‘special’ and targeted to a specialist, supervisor or save team, then the group to manage is much smaller, easier to control and swifter to react to change.
It was at the third step where my experience came apart. Yes, the call was identified as a repeat, but once it got to the agent there was no evidence they were handling it any differently. The same diagnostic steps were repeated, I went through the same reboot cycle and I was given the same outcome – the agent wasn’t equipped or empowered to break from the script and deal with the exception case. When, during the fourth call, it was suggested I purchase a new modem, the agent wasn’t empowered to respond to my challenge that a competitor was both cheaper and offered a free modem.
If my ISP had had a strategy to handle my apparently difficult situation before I called to cancel, I would still be paying $12/month more than I ‘need’ to for the security of a known, trusted relationship and, perhaps, it would have been another 10 years before I needed to make another difficult call. Wouldn’t that have been worth the $80 modem to fix the problem?