Preempt follow-up calls like a Next Issue Avoidance pro

Ashley Sava

February 7, 2020

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You walk a customer through an issue, resolve their problem and wrap up the call. At that point, you consider the job done. But is it? That's the question Next Issue Avoidance asks.

Organizations are often under the impression they’re performing well because they have strong first-contact-resolution (FCR) scores. However, repeat calls often indicate downstream issues related to the problem that prompted the original call, even if that problem appeared to be adequately handled the first time around. Customers might call back because their problem was resolved, but during the course of the resolution something raised another related question for the customer (or perhaps created a new problem) that the customer only realized after ending the phone call. While companies are well equipped to anticipate and forward-resolve these issues, they rarely do so.

Next Issue Avoidance is key

By mining customer interaction data, companies can better recognize the relationships among various customer issues. These valuable insights can help reps to resolve the customer’s primary issues, while anticipating and addressing common downstream issues. This is called Next Issue Avoidance (NIA). Although reps should be the experts of their products, they often only answer the questions the customer asks, leaving the customers ill-equipped to face other challenges that might come up. 

According to Tethr’s Chief Product & Research Officer Matt Dixon’s “The Effortless Experience,” only 40 percent of customer issues are resolved in the first contact. When a customer has to recontact the company to chase down the resolution of their issue, it increases the likelihood that the customer will be disloyal at the end of the service experience 2.5X. Yikes. 

Needing to call back is always a high-effort experience. Rather than constantly playing defense, it’s critical to add some good offensive strategies to a contact center playbook. 

Stop treating calls as one-off issues

Highly effective service organizations don’t think of customer calls as singular issues. Rather, they interpret that each customer case is the beginning of an event or series. They examine the initial call as a whole by determining common reasons a customer might call back and trying to resolve those issues during the primary go around. 

Contact centers are poised to predict forthcoming customer queries. They already possess tons of data about the actions customers have or haven’t taken along their journeys and the issues that are likely to arise in the near future. Taking proactive steps to prepare the customer for what to expect during key moments can help lower those unexpected moments that lead to customer churn.

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Relieve pressure on contact centers

Reducing customer effort isn’t just for the benefit of the customer; it also relieves pressure on contact centers.

Encouraging call center agents to spend a little extra time with customers at the end of a call to ask smart questions could save the contact center several lengthy calls in the future. According to CEB (now Gartner), “companies practicing next issue avoidance dramatically reduce the likelihood of another 3- to 5-minute phone call (with an upset customer, no less) by taking an extra 15 to 30 seconds to simply forewarn the customer.”

Implementation involves an organization-wide adjustment 

In order for this to be successful, there needs to be a shift in mindset from “how quickly can I resolve this issue and get off the call?” to “how can I prevent related calls from taking place?” If applied correctly, this will result in decreased customer effort and agents who are less likely to jump ship. 

Fewer repeat calls results in lower customer effort, yielding greater customer loyalty. Win, win, win some more.

To put it simply: Next Issue Avoidance is the art of solving the customer's second problem on the first call.

Ready to make sense of your unstructured customer data so your contact center can start performing better? Tethr helps businesses surface contextual insights from phone calls and other customer interactions so they can provide better customer experiences.  Stop avoiding NIA and start expecting the expected today.

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