Forward Contact Resolution (Or Why Everyone Should Have Sales Training)

For our Guest Blog this week we are delighted to welcome back Karen Wenborn, Karen is an expert customer experience professional with a passion for embedding the voice of the customer at the heart of an organisation.  Over to Karen:

Forward Contact Resolution, FCR 2

In the world of customer experience, we all share at least three objectives.

1. Reducing customer effort
2. Efficiency
3. CSAT of one sort or another.

Forward Contact Resolution squared FCR for Customer Experience

And the one stop shop that delivers all of the above is First Contact Resolution.

Our current view of FCR (First Contact Resolution) can be demonstrated like this:

  • The customer contacts a company via their channel of choice.
  • The company responds, within expectations in terms of time-scale and provides the customer with the information/service/advice that they need at that point of contact. Tone of voice is great, advisor is friendly and helpful.
  • The system is updated, boxes ticked, customer happy.

For now….

The problem is that we are viewing each of these contacts as simple standalone transactions.

Yes –  at the end of every customer contact (call, email, tweet, or, chat), our front line advisors are asking “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” (Which is regarded by most customers as the advisors way of saying goodbye, or,  just like the American “have a nice day” – not as a genuine question.)
Yes –  we have updated the records to record the contact and will now (hopefully) confirm our actions by text, or, email. Or, in the case of some dinosaurs, snail mail.

Multi Channel Customer ContactBut imagine that by accident our customer is put through to our sales line rather than our service team.  How would that experience change?

Sales people and our best, sales through service front liners aim for Forward Contact Resolution, FCR 2.

What does that mean?

That not only are we getting it right this time, we are pre-empting future contact by anticipating the needs of that individual customer.

So where does sales training come into this?

Well, one of the first things good sales training will deliver is the ability to actively listen. The key word there is actively.

Are your Listening -  Effective Sales Training makes better Customer Service

The customer gets the opportunity to explain exactly what they need without interruption. Our salesperson will then summarise to check understanding before explaining what will happen next.

This last piece is of huge importance.

All too often we gallop through a call, assuming that we know what the customer means and needs. We may have AHT targets (shudder). We may handle similar calls 100 times a day. That does not mean that we have a second sense and will automatically know what this individual customer requires from us. They are all different you know!

Another key point.

Often in service we simply take the details and say that an action has been taken. We don’t explain what, if anything, should happen next and what, if any part the customer needs to play. We are simply one part of a process, hoping that someone else will  handle the next bit.
Our salesperson will give the customer time-scales, explaining exactly what will happen next and confirming both actions and next steps immediately, usually by email, or, text.

But here’s where the contact really differs.

The salesperson will have looked up the customer account and will be making absolutely sure that the customer has everything they need.

  • They will ask questions to determine future needs.
  • They will note at least bullet points of the conversation so that whoever picks up the call next time will have a great basis to build a conversation.
  • They will suggest products/improvements/enhancements/upgrades. Is this selling, or is it simply making every effort to meet all of the needs of this individual customer at this point of contact.
  • They may be lucky enough to have a system that gives them a single customer view.
  • They will note customer contact preferences, they will check address, email and telephone contact details.
  • They know just how important it is to be able to get in touch.

In a nutshell, they aren’t passive recipients of customer queries, they are proactive ambassadors for their company, product, or, service.

Customer service training can of course be excellent but a FCR 2 focus can make a huge difference to both your business and your customers.

I would argue that FCR and the inclusion of sales training within your customer experience strategy will reap greater rewards towards a truly customer centric strategy.

Do you think Sales Training for everyone would enhance customer service, or, do you have a different opinion/idea?

Please let us know by commenting here, or, you can contact Karen, or Douglas Jackson by, email:, or Tel: 0845 620 9720.

Read Karen’s other articles here: Employee Engagement – Are your Employees Engaged? and Employee Engagement – Episode 2 ‘The Prequel’ 

About Douglas Jackson Diverse Impactful Leadership

A high-end retained executive search firm exclusively focused on customer, consumer digital and data centric business, delivering high performance, diverse, impactful leadership. Top CEO/C-Suite, Board Executive Search – Inclusion/Diversity for Digitally Native Brands E-Commerce, Insuretech, Fintech, Fast Growth and Transformation. Operations, Revenue, Product, Digital, Data, Customer, Strategy, Planning. What challenges, or goals do you have right now? Talent is everything. The talent you surround yourself with is everything. The talent that leads your business and your people is everything. High performance talent is what makes you and your business exceptional/extraordinary… When Exceptional Leadership Matters...A brand you can trust. A truly consultative approach. Dedicated to working in partnership to achieve the right outcome.
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4 Responses to Forward Contact Resolution (Or Why Everyone Should Have Sales Training)

  1. Hannah says:

    Great article (again) by Karen. I’m trying to develop a culture of blended sales and service for existing customers, using our service agents to promote products and upsell.

    Who knows the customer better than the service agents who have a more sustained relationship with the customer?


    • Hi Hannah, I hope you are well and thank you for your comments, I have forwarded these on to Karen as well.

      You are right, we regularly hear how much the agents know about their customers but it is surprising how few seem able to extract this, or, convert the insight, or, information to drive positive continuous change.

      Good luck with your cultural changes, it would be great to hear about how you are getting on and what your experiences have been so do keep in touch.

      All the best, Michelle


  2. Pingback: The 10 Steps of Human Conversation | ROBIN Guide

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