Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Contact Centre Performance: In Pursuit of First Call Resolution

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Contact Centre Performance: In Pursuit of First Call Resolution

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Call centres have progressed to being contact centres by integrating multiple communication channels, and providing a service centre for customers and other organisational stakeholders. Contact centres are a major new source of employment, through "offshoring" from developed countries and through government encouragement. A key performance indicator (KPI) of the contact centre industry is First Call Resolution (FCR). Resolving customer queries the first time around is a commonly shared goal, but is defined and valued differently among practitioners. A company's business context, human resources strategy, supporting technology and budget constraints influence this KPI in many ways, and make First Call Resolution a difficult measure to benchmark. This qualitative study explores the concept of First Call Resolution, its pursuit among South African contact centres, and the interactions among factors that affect it. It shows First Call Resolution to be a valuable contact centre management objective, especially if combined with other efficiency metrics, quality evaluations and customer satisfaction surveys.

INTRODUCTION

Contact centres have become significant in modern organisations, responding to inbound requests and performing outbound sales and marketing over multiple channels. Such centres often function as the sole point of contact between the organisation and its stakeholders, mainly customers, playing a vital role in influencing customers' experience and promoting the company culture. In South Africa, contact centres have recently become one of the major sources of new employment opportunities, with strong growth spurred by "offshoring" from developed countries. Encouragement has come from both the President (Mbeki, 2003) and from local and national government. Given the new strategic importance of contact centres to countries such as South Africa, it is important to have meaningful measures to describe their effectiveness, and the extent to which they satisfy customer needs.

First Call Resolution (FCR) has been adopted by the contact centre industry as a key performance indicator (KPI), representing efficiency and competence in satisfying inbound customer requests (Merchants, 2006). The interaction of expensive technology, human resources and management has an intricate impact on contact centre effectiveness, in part indicated by the rate of FCR. This concept is, however, defined, valued and pursued differently among practitioners. The qualitative study discussed in this paper explores the topic and understanding of FCR through an analysis of the existing literature and an analysis of interviews conducted with South African contact centre management. The study investigates differing views on the value and measurement of FCR, identifies the main factors affecting FCR and the relationships among these factors, and relates results in a South African context to academic and practitioner literature from elsewhere.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

This overview describes the concept of FCR in contact centres, and some key management, agent and technological issues affecting FCR.

Contact centres

A contact centre is a facility specifically set up to serve as an interface between customers and the business via employees, called agents, in a structured environment (Hale and Owen, 2002). What used to be described as a "call centre", communicating only by telephone, has become a "contact centre" that interacts with customers through multiple channels such as telephony, email, fax, sms and instant messaging (Morrell, 2000). A contact centre can also be referred to as a "customer care centre" (Kantsperger and Kunz, 2005). Transforming a traditional call centre into a contact centre is not an easy operation, requiring new technology such as communication centre and management software (Singh, Agrawal and Nannda, 2002; Morrell, 2000). Technological advances have facilitated this evolution, and enabled smaller firms to establish contact centres (Adria and Chowdhury, 2004; Hale and Owen, 2002). …

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