In today’s fiercely competitive business landscape, the product or service you offer is no longer enough to stand out. The true differentiator lies in delivering outstanding customer experience (CX) through world-class customer service. Our recent blog about the costs of low first contact resolution (FCR) explained that CX is now considered as important as the product or service itself. FCR, which is a key performance indicator that measures the percentage of customer questions or issues resolved on the first interaction with support agents or through self-service channels, is something companies seeking to enhance CX must focus on improving, especially since 90 percent of global consumers consider issue resolution their most crucial customer service concern.
Harnessing the power of first contact resolution allows companies to establish themselves as industry leaders, driving unparalleled customer satisfaction and fostering long-term relationships. However, the consequence of low FCR rates can be devastating. If front-line agents cannot resolve issues on the first contact, which leads to transfers or follow-up calls, it can have a crippling financial impact on your business. Data from a recent report found that poor customer service costs range from $75 billion to $1.6 trillion annually! Low FCR can also lead to increased operating costs, fewer referrals, brand damage, poor employee and customer experience, and lower repeat sales opportunities.
Low FCR poses significant risks to long-term viability, profitability, brand image, and customer experience, but where do you address the problem of low FCR? We’ll delve into that below.
Understanding Where Customers Engage with Their Brands
Knowing where customers engage with their brands is critical in addressing low first contact resolution rates. Although consumer behavior is ever-changing, the pandemic has permanently altered how customers interact with businesses. During that period, customers flocked to the internet to interact with brands. Today, customers are online more than ever, something that shows no signs of changing anytime soon. However, many customers still prefer non-digital channels, which means satisfying customers requires providing an exceptional experience both online and offline.
As customers settle into new habits, hints at the future of engagement are coming to the surface. Let’s review the trends.
- The desire to self-serve: Recent data found that 95 percent of companies reported a significant increase in self-service requests in 2021, highlighting the growth in consumer demand for greater speed and convenience. It also showed that 81 percent want more self-service options. Consumer expectations are increasing, and 36 percent of consumers want companies to make their self-service options smarter, but only 11 percent of businesses are prioritizing that. Lastly, the data found that 95 percent of consumers place great importance on customer service. The top digital channels companies plan to expand are chat, website access, and search options.
- Declining usage of four channels: There has been a decline in four channels – mobile app, text/SMS, online portals, and the biggest loser, email. According to a SuperOffice customer service study, 62 percent of companies do not respond to customer emails! For companies that do respond, the average response time is 12 hours. Ninety percent of customers say an instant response is vital, with 60 percent defining an immediate response as ten minutes or less.
- Substantial increase in six channels: The six channels on the rise include video chat, social media, messaging, apps, online chat, in-person, and voice conversations. As was mentioned above, fast response times are a vital attribute of excellent CX, and these channels provide instant access to support agents to help with issue resolution. However, there was one channel that stood above the rest. Voice, which still reigns supreme in the digital age, was the most prominent option for customers to engage with a brand. Why? Phone calls are perfect for resolving urgent or complex issues that require empathy or quicker resolution. Live channels like voice calls are nearly 13 times faster than email or online forms.
- Engagement: Omnichannel as ever? Something that hasn’t changed is that engagement continues to be omnichannel as ever, and customers turn to an average of nine different channels to communicate with businesses. Omnichannel support is a continuous connection for consumers between all channels. It means that anything customers share with a team, regardless of the channel, can travel seamlessly to the other channels with full context and without repeating the information they’ve already shared. Customers desire a consistent experience, regardless of how they engage your company, but maintaining high FCR rates across various channels certainly comes with its challenges. While the objective of omnichannel support is to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple channels, these different channels may have their own systems, databases, or workflows, making it difficult to have a unified view of customer interactions. If they’re not properly integrated, customer context may be lost when switching between channels, leading to longer resolution times or the need to be transferred.
The Dominance of Voice
Despite the various channels consumers have available at their fingertips, voice was ranked as the number one choice for customers to engage your brand, and by a long way. Customers are the lifeblood of your business, and they yearn for personalized experiences and customer service agents that empathize with their problems. They want to speak with people who feel, hear, and connect with them, which is easily achieved through voice calls but is severely lacking with other impersonal digital options. Data shows that 59 percent of consumers prefer phone calls when contacting customer support. This growing preference for voice communication underscores the importance of developing emotional connections between brands and customers. Whether customers are consciously aware of it or not, when they have a positive experience, they’ll seek out that feeling again.
Emotional connection is the new CX leader, and by improving human connection through voice in a primarily digital world, brands can strengthen the emotional connections they form with customers. Although human interaction matters now for businesses, 64 percent of consumers feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience, and 71 percent would rather interact with a human than an automated process.
Even with that information in mind, industry leaders will still try to enable self-service where possible, but voice options must be available for agents to get involved in situations where empathy and context are needed for emotional and human connections and rapid issue resolution. Voice is not a channel that should be overlooked, and businesses must find how it can fit in with their overall strategy. Flexibility is vital to organizations looking to meet their customers where they are for first contact resolution, whether through live chat today or by phone tomorrow.
These insights about customer interaction preferences highlight areas where attention should be directed to align with their preferred engagement methods. However, it’s important to note that understanding these preferences alone does not solve the issue of low first contact resolution. Instead, it shows where the FCR problem needs to be addressed. If you’re looking to solve the problem of low FCR, you can find the answers in our latest eBook.
Download our eBook: A Modern Approach to Improving First Contact Resolution
Unlock the answers to solving low First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates and reclaim your competitive edge by downloading our free eBook, A Modern Approach to First Contact Resolution. This game-changing resource holds the answers you’ve been searching for and breaks down how a potent combination of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) can improve efficiency and enable your front-line agents to resolve issues quickly and effectively on the channel your customers prefer for a flawless customer experience. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to elevate your customer service. Download it now!