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21st September 2015

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The debate continues: AHT or First Call Resolution?

Puzzel (formerly Intelecom) says First Call Resolution pips Average Handling Time to the post in the race to keep customers satisfied

There is a long running debate in the contact centre industry: is Average Handling Time (AHT) more important than First Call Resolution (FCR) when it comes to prioritising metrics in the contact centre and driving increased customer satisfaction?

Traditionally, the majority of contact centre managers measured success around AHT, or how quickly their agents could finish and complete every call. The consensus was that the lower the duration of each customer transaction, the more efficient the contact centre. They constantly pushed and motivated their team to ensure calls lasted a finite amount of time and even recognised agents who were fastest to the finish line.

Whilst it makes perfect sense not to spend hours on the phone with one customer or to hold long Chat conversations or social media interactions, customers do want to feel special and certainly not rushed. In fact, the number one concern for customers is to resolve their problem and preferably on the first contact (FCR).

Puzzel believes that measuring the FCR rate offers the most accurate insight into customer satisfaction, a sentiment that appears to be shared by many in the industry and beyond. Take BroadConnect Telecom, a Canadian private fibre-optic network operator which claims that of all customers who had their problems resolved through FCR, more than 90% were content with their customer experience. Alternatively, customer problems that were handled through AHT resolution, requiring repeated calls, were only satisfied 59% of the time .

While no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing metrics to measure customer satisfaction and productivity, it is important to take a look at the whole process including stress levels for agents. Agents typically prefer to answer an enquiry effectively rather than just quickly.

Interestingly, the organisations Puzzel works with say the moment contact centre leaders switch the focus to FCR, agents get more job satisfaction. This acts as a real morale booster that improves productivity and customer engagement. Rather than being concerned with how quickly they can get the customer off the phone, agents concentrate 100% on making sure customers receive the support they really need to answer their questions and solve their problems.

In brief, FCR is fast overtaking AHT as the critical metric of success and by harnessing the latest call centre solutions organisations are better able to leverage their contact centre environment and improve customer satisfaction.

Smart companies empower agents to give their undivided attention to customers and provide contact centre leaders the authority to maximise resources and human talent and then blend it with call centre software to improve the overall customer experience, boost loyalty and company profits.

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