Let’s talk about First Contact Resolution (FCR) for a minute. For example, an 81% first call resolution rate might sound great at first glance, right? Eighty-one percent! Woo hoo, awesome, high five! But when you consider that 80% of people are basically idiots (more on that in a minute) then that’s means you are really only solving 1% of the real problems that couldn’t otherwise be easily solved by putting a Google search widget on the front of your company’s Web self service portal. And a 1% resolution rate is pretty bad. Unless of course you are United Airlines, in which case – wow, awesome, high five – you improved 1% from last year!
But let’s get back to that contentious statistic about 80% of people being, well… not particularly bright. I know what you’re probably thinking. Is this just another one of those bullshit statistics that John just made up on the spot? Well, um… yes and no. It is generally acknowledged that smart people sometimes do dumb things. And a college degree certainly doesn’t guarantee rational decision making. Heck, I have a graduate and a post graduate degree and there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t do something incredibly stupid. Take for example last week when my wife asked me what I thought was the ideal weight for the average American woman (hint: whatever you do, don’t say 110 lbs or you will be sleeping on the couch for the week).
But don’t just take my word for it that people don’t always think rationally. Let me prove it to you. Before you read any further, answer this simple story problem: Ashton is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at Justin. Ashton is married, but Justin is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person? Yes? No? Cannot be determined?
If you’re like 80% of people (including me) you answered “cannot be determined” because we don’t know if Anne is married or not. And you were wrong. The answer is yes, a married person is indeed looking at an unmarried person. True, we don’t know whether Anne is married or not, but it doesn’t actually matter because we know that a married person (Ashton) is looking at her, and that she is looking at an unmarried person (Justin). So either way, whether she is married or not, she is either the unmarried person being looked at by a married person (Ashton), or she is the married person looking at the unmarried person (Justin). Simple. Yet so many of us got it wrong. Similarly most people will get some (if not all) of these five tricky questions wrong as well.
Now in fairness, I don’t really believe that most people are “idiots” (that was just the attention-grabbing headline). But I do however suspect that at least 80% of us would rather do something else with our valuable time than spend hours huddled over an instruction manual frying our brain trying to figure out how to configure the new USB toasterwe received for Christmas. And if the majority of us can’t pass a simple logic quiz without popping a blood vessel in our forehead, how can we be expected to do something as complicated as syncing our iTunes with our iPod or resetting the microwave clock for daylight saving time?
That my friends is what Customer Service was invented for. You pick up the phone and the all knowing powers on the other end talk you through the easy 162-step process. Three hours later, you’re good to go. At least that’s how Service used to work. These days of course it’s all about web self service, telephone IVR systems, chat bots, and social-media crowd sourcing. Companies have realized that they don’t necessarily need to keep 10,000 college kids on staff at all times, constantly answering calls and gulping down 5 hour energy shots.
With a decent CRM system that includes a modern Web self service portal, telephone IVR, integrated knowledge base, and an online social-media community, companies can deflect an extraordinary number of queries that would have otherwise reached the call center. Not only do companies save money on reduced agent salaries, but customers get their questions answered faster and with more consistent responses. And then there is proactive service, which allows companies to avoid potential costly service repairs by contacting customers as soon as an issue is detected or anticipated. Throw in some remote diagnostic tools and the products can literally report problems themselves. And don’t forget about online social-media communities that provide a platform for crowd sourcing, allowing customers to help resolve each other’s questions and issues.
Throw it all together and you’ve got a recipe for reduced cost of service, increased customer satisfaction, and yes… perhaps even that allusive 81% first contact resolution rate. Perhaps the only thing that a good CRM system can’t do is activate that other 90% of the human brain that people don’t use. Yes, unfortunately even the best CRM system probably isn’t going to make you any better at Sudoku or Words with Friends – though hopefully it might at least be able to help you figure out how to get that USB toaster up and running.