Loyal and happy customers often indicate a business with a healthy customer service team and workflow. But what if your customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are low, and your first contact resolution (FCR) scores could be better?
Common sense dictates that when a customer has to contact you multiple times to get your product to work, their frustration levels rise, and CSAT drops. If they can get a comparable product elsewhere, they may even leave your brand altogether.
Fortunately, improving CSAT often improves FCR, and vice versa. Here are five practical steps you can start with to improve your stats and the health of your brand.
Check your data.
The first step to improving a system is to identify any systemic issues. Your data can tell a story more reliable and consistent than any anecdote (although qualitative data in the form of customer stories may be helpful).
For example, average handle time (AHT) commonly increases as FCR improves. So, if you notice a trend in your AHT and FCR numbers, you may need to examine recent changes to the priorities you’ve given your agents (such as time-based customer support quotas).
As another example, if CSAT responses dip over the weekend, you might add an out-of-office notification to your systems on the weekends to manage customer expectations.
If you’re collecting QA scorecards for each of your agents, you can investigate whether agent performance is affecting FCR and CSAT. If so, agent coaching might be a good next step.
Train your agents to ask the right questions.
One of the simplest ways to improve CSAT and FCR is to train customer service agents (or bots) to ask the right questions. Agents should understand that there’s a difference between solving a customer’s immediate problem and finding the underlying issue. The immediate problem can often be solved by anyone with access to your business’ knowledge base or source of truth. But only someone with interview-style skills can discern hidden issues that would cause a customer to contact you again and again.
For example, imagine a customer contacts a tech company because her Bluetooth headphones keep disconnecting from her smartphone. An agent might be able to help her reconnect her headphones, solving her immediate problem.
But if the customer’s headphones disconnect again later, two things could happen. One, she might forget how to reconnect them—which could be mitigated by a follow-up communication and documentation protocol. (Ever asked a question via chat and wanted a copy of the transcript for your records? You’re not the only one.)
Two, she might continue to experience the problem because the root issue wasn’t a simple connection issue. Perhaps she had an old pair of headphones that were connecting instead of her new ones, or her phone OS needed to be updated. A savvy agent might be able to figure this out and advise her on how to fix the issue.
When agents ask proper diagnostic questions and seek to understand the context of an issue—not just the issue itself—they’re better able to serve the customer. And although this thorough approach may slightly increase AHT, the improvement in CSAT and FCR is worth it.
Make your CSAT survey and analysis as simple as possible.
It’s important to make your CSAT survey as pain-free as possible. Seems obvious, right? But if you text your customers a follow-up survey, for example, and they have to open a browser tab, select a response, and hit “submit,” you’re complicating the process. You may want to test different approaches based on your industry, but as a rule of thumb, ask for as little effort as possible.
Once you have your CSAT data collected, you’ll need to analyze and understand it in context. It’s essential to remember that CSAT measures aggregate performance—not individual agent performance. So analyzing CSAT data alone isn’t going to tell you the whole story. Established platforms like MaestroQA, for example, can provide unfiltered visibility into what’s happening with your agents, customers, CX processes, and business.
Polish your knowledge base.
Your knowledge base should be easy to navigate and quick to load. Customers are used to instantaneous answers from Google; they’re already spending extra time reaching out to your team. A clunky system that forces small talk while agents try different searches and wait for pages to load is a hindrance to good customer service.
It may seem like a small detail, but a perfected knowledge base can have a domino effect on your organization. In an ideal world with an ideal knowledge base, your agents will be happy because they can find answers and serve customers quickly. They’ll stay at your organization longer, accruing knowledge that allows them to serve customers further. Your customers will be happy to receive quick answers from knowledgeable agents. They’ll return to your brand and tell their friends about it. And your CSAT and FCR will both improve.
Be easy to reach.
Another small detail that makes all the difference in your CSAT and FCR is the ease with which your customers can reach you. Making busy customers scale phone trees and scour websites for buried contact information will cause some to abandon your brand right away. Other times, it will result in a frustrated customer, before they even reach your agent.
Chatbots, callback options, and web forms are all helpful for mitigating this problem. Automate as much as possible, then hone your SOPs to eliminate cumbersome steps for both customers and your agents. Finally, journey through the contact process as a customer, and note anything you think could be improved. Periodically becoming a “customer”—and scoring your own experience—can impact your business for the better.