How to resolve customer complaints at first contact

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Founder and CEO at Millennial servicesa dedicated call center service provider.

Resolving customer complaints on the first contact means better customer satisfaction and retention. That’s the goal, but how do you get there? What steps can you take to improve your first-touch resolution metrics?

As the president of a call center service provider, I believe the answer lies in implementing root cause identification and resolution. By doing this, I’ve found you’re better able to develop customer service practices that allow your frontline team to resolve customer issues without escalation.

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How can you implement root cause identification and resolution?

The best way to improve first contact resolution is to look at root cause identification. This is a process that requires you to dig in and look at your service honestly from all angles. Ideally, this process allows you to make changes that ultimately reduce the number of times customers have to contact you. Fewer phone calls and emails from dissatisfied customers is the goal.

Start:

1. Define the problem. What is the specific problem your customer or customers share, broken down in simple terms?

2. Collect as much information as possible to determine the cause of the problem.

3. Once you have identified the cause of the problem, come up with a solution that eliminates or reduces the cause.

Taking measures to reduce customer complaints is obvious. However, keep in mind that errors will always occur. There is no way to completely rule out human error or physical problems. Things break and people make mistakes. You always need frontline teams to handle customer complaints and inquiries. The biggest problem is not that the customer has a problem or complaint that needs to be resolved. The big problem is when the customer ends the conversation feeling dissatisfied.

So if calls are still coming in about a problem, the next best thing is to get to a satisfactory solution for the customer as soon as possible. Customers who experience a quick resolution on first contact are often the most loyal customers you can have. They will rely on you to take care of them. And when a customer trusts you, they’re much more likely to spread the word about your great products, services, and customer service to their friends and family.

What happens if you fail on first contact?

When a customer calls with a problem or question, they hope it will be resolved quickly. However, this motivation is not limited to phone calls only; it also applies to emails, chats and social media. What makes a first contact resolution successful is resolving the issue to the customer’s satisfaction during that first interaction.

Inefficiencies in the customer service process will lead to more customer frustration. Lack of communication between departments, lack of training, and lack of soft skills can lead to customer service delays. Moving the customer from person to person can make them more dissatisfied and further escalation is needed before the issue can be resolved.

Unfortunately, by the time the conversation reaches this level, you may have already lost your customer.

How can you improve the resolution on first contact?

What happens when you apply root cause identification to your resolution process? By identifying the root cause of a failed resolution on first contact, your organization can make the necessary changes that increase your resolution rate.

The importance of training, communication and soft skills cannot be overemphasized. It is essential that every employee is trained to answer questions and solve problems.

No customer enjoys being tossed around, having to repeat their problem and being told “I don’t know” before being put on hold to wait for the next person. This is a frustrating and all too common experience. Proper training prevents this. The main cause here is a lack of product and service knowledge. When employees don’t have all the information they need, they’re not empowered and don’t have the tools to solve customer problems.

Any employee with the potential for customer contact needs extensive product and service training and a working knowledge of all customer service policies and procedures.

When a customer calls with a question about a return policy or warranty information or to report a faulty product or service, they are looking for answers and a solution. It’s a win if the person answering the call can confidently answer questions and provide a satisfactory solution within the first five minutes.

Dissecting these wins on first contact typically reveals an employee empowered by knowledge and solutions. Add in active listening skills, excellent communication skills, compassion, and a genuine curiosity and desire to provide excellent service, and you’ll be much more likely to turn a customer from frustrated to impressed.


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