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eSharings - may 2005

Current insights, objective advice, and resources for service and support professionals, given in the spirit of sharing information.

Table of Contents

-- Sharing
-- Featured Article
-- Resources
Subscription Information


October 6-8 – New Orleans at the Fairmont Hotel

“Celebrate with the Legends of the Help Desk Industry”

This is the only event you will ever see all of your favorite industry leaders speaking at one conference.  Come to hear Malcolm Fry, Pete McGarahan, Patrick Bultema, Ivy Meadors, Gary Lemke, Char LaBounty, Kurt Johnson, JJ Lauderbaugh, Daryl Covey, Brad Worthley, and many other great legends.

The Fairmont Hotel, built in 1893, has hosted movie stars, royalty, some of the world's greatest entertainers, and eight U.S. presidents.  Its distinctive guest rooms are well-appointed with state-of-the-art amenities, while the elegant meeting rooms offer the perfect venue for our sessions.

What better location for creating a memorable experience that will offer you an extraordinary place to stay, combining unique architecture, expressive decor, and magnificent features all in one great location.  Add great service, content loaded sessions, and the opportunity to hear from the legends of the help desk industry to this, and the result is an extraordinary, unforgettable experience.


I share this personal situation to let you know why you haven’t been hearing much out of us, and more importantly, to share with you the importance of taking time for your family, at any cost.

My family has suffered an incredible loss over the recent months. Our mom passed away in January. She fought hard for many months before succumbing to congenital heart failure. I was not prepared for the impact her passing would have on me both personally and professionally.

There are many reasons for things happening in our lives. As I look back over the past six months, I realize that had I put more focus on the business than on my family,. I might not have been with mom during those most precious last moments.

We all talk about taking more time to be with those we love. But we often get so wrapped up in our work and other activities that we forget about the most important things in our lives; our family and friends. Please take a moment to reach out to those you love and care most about. That last heartbeat can come most unexpectedly.

Though I rarely share private things, most of you who have known me for many years or have met us at an event, will understand my reasons for telling you this. Many of you also know my brother Ivor, who works with me. Those of you who knew of our great loss, sent words of support and beautiful, thoughtful cards and emails from all around the world.

It is an incredible gift to have such wonderful friends in the world and we publicly thank all of you for your kindness and support during this difficult time.

With much gratitude,

Ivy and Ivor Meadors



What can you do?  Performing true First Call Resolution (FCR) is a good start that will contribute to the move of becoming indispensable.  FCR, correctly defined, means that a call is received and fully solved on the first contact.  “One Call Did it All!”

What FCR is not:

1. A call that required a callback to the customer, though it never left the frontline team to get the solution identified.

2. A situation where a ticket is opened and closed, though it has been escalated to a vendor or another department for resolution.  The situation is not closed in the customer’s mind.

3. A case where the solution is not resolved fully to the customer’s satisfaction but considered done given certain criteria (i.e. customer called about a problem with their order – an answer is offered and the issue closed, but they still don’t have their order).

If a call is being resolved with a call back, but does not leave the frontline, this is called First Point of Resolution (FPR).  There is a difference and it is key to your measurements and customer satisfaction levels.

So why are these semantics so important?  The industry suggests that 80% FCR is the best practice.  I propose that many help desk groups are measuring this inaccurately.  Many call centers are measuring FCR correctly but may be closing requests before the customer’s issue is closed.  The impact to the business overall is very high.  If you think you are solving calls at a high First Call Resolution rate but not actually doing so on the first call, what is the overall impact of the cost of the call and to the customer’s satisfaction level, retention, and loyalty?

The industry suggests that for every call not solved on the first call, three to five more calls are generated.  This represents calls back to the user, which may take multiple attempts as you call them and they call back playing telephone tag, testing suggested solutions, chasing down other people who need to get involved, etc.  The cost per call is known by you to be somewhere between $10 – $100+ (estimate includes call centers and help desks).  The cost of one call is now three to five times the cost had it not been solved on the first call.  The intangible costs are exponential.

You can measure this effectively using your technology.  You must count how many calls are outbound, and be sure people are not using other lines to make the call backs or your numbers will be skewed.  You will find by providing the tools, training and staffing, with the most skilled staff members on the frontline, you can contribute significantly to the bottom line. 

What if you could eliminate 2 out of 3 calls to your group?  What if you could decrease your outbound calls to less than one half of what they are today and solve a higher number of calls on the first contact.  You will find fewer staff members will be necessary, that the workload can be balanced more effectively, and that the customer satisfaction levels will increase significantly.  The intangible numbers represent exponential amounts.

Are you measuring FCR correctly.  Is it actually or FPR?  Can someone else do your same job with limited training?

By providing more value and becoming a solution provider and not being just a ticket-taker, you are taking the first step to becoming indispensable.



Working with the Detroit-based automotive practice of Maritz Incentives, Cadillac conducts detailed research and analysis to show each dealership where it's doing a good job and where there is room to improve. Each dealership is then assigned a Maritz-trained SFE facilitator who works closely with its personnel, developing specific action plans for improvement based on the research. Cadillac then pays dealers a performance bonus based on their sales numbers and customer satisfaction index.

The bonus is welcome, but for Paul Broome, owner of Broome Cadillac in Independence, Mo., the improvements in morale and performance at his store have been the greatest advantages of SFE. "Having the facilitator in our stores as a third party has been what we've received the most benefit from. We're so close to the situation that having a facilitator to bring in fresh ideas, a new perspective and outside encouragement gets our people more involved in the process," Broome says.


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