SQM Group

Call Centers
Learn from the Best to Improve FCR, Csat, and Reduce Cost

December 16, 2021 | 2min read

Most Call Centers Primary Objective is to Improve Customer Service

Most leaders will say their primary call center objective is to improve customer service and reduce operating costs. However, from a customer's perspective, SQM research shows that less than 5% of call centers improve their First Call Resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction (top box survey response) by 5% or more on an annual basis.

Moreover, many call centers want to deliver world-class customer service. Call centers that provide great customer service will need a world-class performance of 80% or higher FCR and 85% or higher customer satisfaction (e.g., very satisfied survey top box response). Unfortunately, only 5% of call centers can achieve world-class FCR and customer satisfaction (Csat) metrics performance.

Furthermore, SQM research shows that 93% of customers expect their call to be resolved on the first call. As a result, FCR performance drives customer service and cost performance. For example, SQM Group's research shows for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction," and you reduce operating costs by 1%."

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What Call Centers are the Best to Learn From to Improve CX?

Learning from call centers that are world-class performers for FCR and Customer Satisfaction (Csat) metrics are the best call centers to learn from to improve customer experience (CX) and reduce cost. The reason for this belief is that world-class FCR call centers have a proven track record of what it takes in terms of people, process, and technology practices to achieve world-class customer service while reducing cost.

Traditional benchmarking practices compare call centers within their industry based on traditional operational metrics (e.g., service level, AHT, occupancy, adherence) to improve customer service and reduce cost.

SQM believes using traditional operational metrics to learn from to be a good practice. However, we believe that benchmarking against world-class FCR and Csat call centers, no matter what industry they come from, to be the best practice for learning ways to improve CX and reduce cost.

Some call centers will benchmark their customer service based on a competitor or industry comparison (e.g., one telco versus another telco call center CX) performance which can be problematic. For example, a telco call center CX might be the best in their industry but could be a 3rd or 4th quartile FCR and Csat performer compared to all call centers. A telco call center could perform best within its industry for customer service but really provide poor service, in other words, the best of the worst. Do you really want to learn from that call center?

Furthermore, it has been SQM's experience that when you benchmark against a call center within your industry that is not a world-class performer, you come away with incremental improvement ideas on people, processes, and technology practices. The small improvement occurs because the awareness of what your direct competitors are doing within your industry tends to be fairly high.

Many call center managers who say they have best practices for people, process, and technology, then find out that their assessments were inaccurate by conducting employee and customer surveys. In many cases, world-class call centers' FCR and Csat performance reflect great customer service more accurately than the manager's opinion.

Some call center managers exaggerate their people, processes, and technology performance. Moreover, some managers can deny opportunities to improve business practices even if customers feel they need to improve. In many cases, call center managers place more value in their view of customer service even when Csat feedback is just the opposite of how they see it.

Again, learning from world-class FCR and Csat call centers is a best practice for improving customer service and reducing cost. In addition, however, benchmarking your call center's FCR and Csat performance against world-class and your industry call centers can be an effective practice to learn what to work on for your FCR and Csat improvement efforts.

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