Putting a Cap on Calls Resolution

You know why you should strive for first-call resolution, and if you read our last article The First Call Should Do It All, you know how to do it. This week we’ll focus on limiting the number of calls to or from a customer it will take to resolve any problem or issue.

The maximum number of calls resolution is the other side of first-call resolution. How do you track this metric? Here are some ideas:

➢ Of the calls that get escalated, track the number of total contacts it took to come to a final resolution from the original call. Divide the total contacts by the original number of escalations to get the number of contacts needed for resolution.

➢ Using this historical data will give you a standard. Using my company’s fourth-quarter numbers, we had 5,818 escalations that took 22,625 contacts to resolve. This comes to 3.89 contacts per escalation.

➢ The standard has been set based on this historical data. So 3.89 was our average; now we have established this as a MAXIMUM, with a goal of reducing the overall average to less than 2.0 contacts per escalation.

Fewer contacts results in happier customers, as issues are getting resolved faster. And for merchants, it means lower costs because there are fewer non-order contacts.

Maximum call length controls
Most call centers measure average call lengths. This is crucial for staffing, scheduling, and overall planning and control. But we have implemented a “maximum call length” control that is specifically aimed at controlling the long-winded customers (and reps). Here’s how it works:

We take our average call length of six minutes and double it to 12 minutes to give us a projected maximum call length.

Any call over 12 minutes MUST be attended or monitored by the supervisor on duty. The idea here is that it is reasonable to expect some calls to be longer than the average call length. But any call double that in length suggests a customer with too much free time, an untrained rep, or something else that should get supervisor intervention.

We found some calls were taking 20 to 30 minutes and longer–why? The customer was just shopping (not buying) and the rep just didn’t have the heart or training to cut them off. Some nonorder calls were checked and the customers rambled on about their problem to a very sympathetic rep.

But the rep never asked what the customer wanted to resolve the problem! A simple question early on in the call could have reduced the length of the call–as well as determined if the rep could even help this customer.

Timothy J. Holody (timh@setacoproration.com) is s chief operating officer of Seta Corp./Palm Beach Jewelry, a multichannel merchant based in Boca Raton, FL.

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