Can you really increase First Contact Resolution by 30% in 3 weeks?

Around a month ago, I set the Workshare customer support team a challenge – deliver service that makes you proud of every single customer interaction.  It might seem a little fluffy or intangible, but they are passionate, committed, inquisitive and focused.  As with any technical support team, there are times when investigating and fixing an issue can take a long time.  Coupled with the constant uncertainty of how many customers will contact the team each day, it’s easy to get bogged down in process and detail.  That’s why I set a rather subjective challenge to the team.

The director of support, together with the line managers worked together on a plan – using the years of data we have gathered to understand what makes the customers happy and what makes the team members proud of their service, and it all boiled down to 2 simple things: fix my problem quickly, and do it flawlessly.  I’m sure it’s no surprise that speed and quality are common factors, but how do you go about raising both?  The first step was to identify barriers – each clunky process, each unnecessary admin task, each onerous report was scrutinised and simplified or removed.  Clearer responsibility for the managers meant that the front line teams were able to focus on customer resolution.  The managers created a new set of MIS reports to help them oversee the overall delivery, and restructured the team.  Behold, “support two point nought” was born!

We sat down to discuss when to launch it, and agreed (in the words of Richard Branson), “Screw it, let’s do it!”  Rolling out the changes to the team went incredibly well.  On Monday morning, we were going to remove all cases and incidents from the front line teams (the managers working over the weekend to  speed up resolution on the more complex cases), and start with a clean slate.

I don’t mind admitting, I was pretty nervous, but as all good leaders know, you have to set your team free, let them own the challenge, no matter how scary the outcome might be.  The previous levels of FCR (first contact resolution) had been hovering around 45% for some time, so something completely different was clearly required. I was hoping to move this to 60% over a two month period, which felt like a big leap, but I had faith in the team.

Over the course of the first week, the new process flowed well, completely owned by the team and the managers, and within 5 days of launching the new approach, we were already hitting 60% FCR – proud moment indeed!  During the course of the second week, as the team continued to remove barriers, question old process and engage other departments, they were able to reach just shy of 70% – incredible shift!  As we’ve headed into our third week of this transformation, the team members are now more engaged about how they can help achieve customer delight, and I was handed a post-it with the latest results last night, showing we had achieved 77% FCR, a 30% increase in just three weeks!  It sounds pretty incredible, and it’s taken Herculean efforts and a heck of a lot of small changes (think Team Sky‘s approach on making constant tiny refinements to drive big results.)

There is a considerable list of additional changes the team are planning on making – from more energetic engagement with customers where we are awaiting additional info to the complete re-launch of self service.  We’ve already agreed the next quarter’s goal, extending beyond FCR to encompass the speed (and quality) of all cases.  This feels like a momentous time for the Workshare customer support team, and the best part is, they are in the driving seat.  If you’d like to know more about some of the changes that had most effect, drop me a line!

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