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First Time Right. Or is it First Time Resolution?

Wilbert van Zelst Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In many customer contact organizations, the concept 'First Time Right' plays an important role. However, this approach is very often confused with 'First Time Resolution'. Even more confusion arises when the issue of the distinction between the first and second tier is raised. So, what do these terms mean exactly, and what is the best approach?

First Time Right
The 'First Time Right' principle originates from Six Sigma, a methodology aimed at gaining more control over processes. Instead of being confronted with errors afterwards, Six Sigma focuses on avoiding errors: 'do it right the first time'. This is important, because each error made causes costly 'rework' and directly affects the degree of customer satisfaction.

Managing quality
In practice, many organizations experience considerable failures in this area. A problem might only be partially solved, or a lot of effort is invested in something that is not even a problem. It is therefore of the utmost importance that a call center operator makes a correct analysis of a customer's inquiry the first time. Based on this, he can directly initiate the right processes. Managing the quality of those processes is an important part of this.

One contact
'First Time Resolution' involves something else. Based on this principle, we assume that we can satisfy the customers during the first attempt. There is no need to approach them again to request information and customers themselves definitely do not need to contact us a second time. Research has shown that each time a customer is forced to call again about the same question, customer satisfaction drops 15%. 'First Time Resolution' therefore not only directly affects the number of satisfied customers, but also the level of the contact volume.

First and second tier
Do 'First Time Resolution' and 'First Time Right' mean that the first-tier operator must necessarily do all the work? No. It only means that we try to avoid burdening the customer with steps that should in fact be taken internally. Sometimes, a first-tier operator can take care of this, but it is equally possible that it makes better sense in terms of efficiency to pass the work on to the second tier, or to move it to a quieter moment in time. What about tasks that are to be carried out in the future? None of this is relevant to the customer. The operator ensures that he or she obtains all necessary information during the first contact; the customer remains unaware of the necessary steps that follow.

Analysis and processes
In order to apply 'First Time Resolution' and 'First Time Right' properly in practice, it is crucial that a customer service department correctly analyzes a customer contact and that the business processes are organized adequately. The process improvement program Lean Six Sigma provides the tools needed to accomplish this. Lean Six Sigma consists of two combined methodologies: Lean Thinking and the aforementioned Six Sigma. Lean is designed to reduce waste by reducing the number of steps that make up a process. Six Sigma, on the other hand, places a great deal more focus on the quality of the processes. In other words, Lean Six Sigma combines speed and efficiency with quality improvement by means of adequately managing the processes.

In practice
So, how could this be applied in practice? Workflow systems like Morphis' ProcessRunner make an important contribution. They guarantee that processes can be executed easily, promptly, and with the right results. The ProcessRunner application, which consists of several modules, therefore makes a distinction between more and less frequently occurring customer events. For the first category, the so-called volume processes, the emphasis mainly lies on efficiency. Processes must be completed quickly and correctly. For the second category, the non-volume processes, efficient processing is of a lesser importance. Here, the main concern is quality. An example of this is the filing of a complaint. If this occurs, then it is not so relevant whether the processing takes a few minutes more or less, as long as the complaint is resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

Efficiency and quality
As discussed before, one concept applies to all processes: 'do it right the first time'. In keeping with this objective, Morphis has developed the ProcessRunner Interface module: a cockpit that allows staff to see effortlessly which questions customers have exactly and what information is required to solve these inquiries. After that, it must still be determined who will execute the tasks. ProcessRunner Organizer can be employed to do this. It can be used to rank tasks in the correct order and assign them to the right staff. In addition, the ProcessRunner Organizer module is suitable for defining and managing workflows, and for measuring and managing workloads and service levels. All of this is in the interest of an efficient, high-quality supply of services.