- Because of its potential to cut costs quickly and boost customer satisfaction, first contact resolution (FCR) is gaining recognition as the major key performance indicator (KPI) of success in customer care settings.
- More enlightened customer care executives realize that their happiest customers are those that never have to contact a customer care center at all.
Because of its potential for immediate, effective and powerful results, FCR is gaining recognition and acceptance as a major KPI across customer service operations. The ability of a high FCR level to affect revenues positively and boost customer satisfaction, while decreasing the cost of customer care by reducing redundant operations, makes its achievement a win-win situation for both the corporation and its customers alike.
When I present on the topic of customer care service operations, a common question I get asked is whether or not I believe a high level of FCR – the percentage of customer contact issues that are resolved the first time the customer contacts the company – is the best measurement of a successful customer care operation. My response may be surprising to many. I am quick to respond “No – FCR is the second best measurement of success in the contact center environment.” I say this because I believe all the recent hype about which KPIs are best to track and measure may cause customer care managers and executives to lose sight of their real mission, which is to optimize customer happiness with the purchase and service experience they have with their company. Since I know most customers dislike contacting customer service at all, I believe the best indicator of a successful customer care operation is the measurement of zero contact resolution (ZCR).
Of course it takes brave, “outside-the-box” thinking customer care executives to admit that no customer care is better than good customer care. They realize that the ultimate result of a high level of ZCR could be the disbandment of the contact center and all customer care department employees being out of work. However, if you think about it, you will realize a fundamental truth about customer care, which only the most progressive, forward thinking customer care executives have ever expressed to me – “The happiest customers of all are those who never have to call customer care”. These customers have no questions to ask, no complaints, no problems with their bills and require no additional instructions. Simply put, the customer’s needs are met without ever contacting the companies that supply their products or services. These customers exist, and will likely remain very loyal, without every interacting with their service or equipment supplier.
The optimization of ZCR requires coordination across many more departments than just the contact center or customer care department. It requires an executive team that is customer-centric by nature and works to drive the perfection of operations down through every department in the company. In essence, everything the company does is designed around a belief that the customer should never have to contact the company to resolve an issue. These companies deliver high quality products with clearly written instructions, provide a user-friendly Web site loaded with a comprehensive set of FAQs, offer links to customer discussion sites on the Internet and even facilitate reviews of their products to ensure customer expectations are properly set before a purchase is made. Its letter/e-mail correspondence is kept to a minimum, its bills are clearly explained and never surprising and the company is proactive in reaching out to its customers before the customers have a need to contact the corporation. Sure, this requires a great deal of planning, meticulous inter-departmental coordination and the dedicated follow through of every employee in the company, and developing such a system could be expensive. But then again, when we realize that each call the contact center agent answers costs a corporation $5 to $7 or more, this could save even a medium-sized company millions of dollars a year. Do the math for your company and you may realize that goals aimed at improving your ZCR are well worth the investment. I am sure we can all think of a few favorite high ZCR companies (e.g., Apple, Honda and USAA).