Tools For First Call Resolution--Making Contact Centers More Efficient And Responsive
A diverse toolkit includes interactive voice response (IVR), knowledge management systems, agent scripting, presence and instant messaging, real-time speech analytics, and training and policy. Contact centers can apply these tools individually or in concert, depending on the type of process improvement that they seek.
This article first appeared in the December 2007 issue of Business Communications Review magazine.
When you call a toll-free number to order clothing, get help with your computer, or book a plane flight, you want the call to be quick and conclusive. You want the operators or agents who handle your call to accept your order, answer your question or make your reservation before you hang up. In the contact center world, that’s known as first call resolution, and the companies that you call want it, too. If a call takes too long or leaves your issue unresolved, the company’s costs go up and it may lose you as a customer.
Nonetheless, first call resolution is a challenge for many contact centers. According to a June 2007 study of U.S. callers by the CFI Group, customer satisfaction with contact centers is crucial to customer loyalty, positive word of mouth and return on investment. Yet almost a fifth of all callers hang up with their issues unresolved. And of those, 68 percent are at risk of defection. What’s a contact center manager to do?
A Diverse Tool Kit
The dream solution is a virtual agent—a piece of software that eavesdrops on calls, understands the dialogue between callers and “real” agents, and retrieves the right information automatically. Using that information, the virtual agent directs the real agent so that the customer’s needs are met quickly and correctly.
Parts of the virtual agent—basic speech recognition, for example—work today. However, “A complete virtual or ‘cyber’ agent is perennially three to five years out,” according to Jon Silverman, chief technical officer at contact center vendor Calabrio Software. “But there are a number of other tools and measures available to help call centers improve their performance.”
This diverse toolkit includes interactive voice response (IVR), knowledge management systems, agent scripting, presence and instant messaging, real-time speech analytics, and training and policy (see Figure below). Contact centers can apply these tools individually or in concert, depending on the type of process improvement that they seek. For example, agent scripting can be used standalone to guide outgoing sales calls, or it can front-end a knowledge management system for improved response to incoming support questions.