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Why is first-call resolution an important metric for your organization?
In a contact center, first-call resolution (FCR) is one of the most revealing performance metrics, as it captures something that is relatively straightforward yet tightly linked to customer satisfaction. A call center’s FCR rate is the percentage of its calls that agents resolve on the first attempt, with no necessary followup.
It’s traditionally calculated as the quotient of the number of such correctly resolved calls divided by total first calls over a designated time period. FCR can also be applied to other, non-voice channels, such as live chat, social media, and SMS, all of which are staples of modern omni channel contact center solutions that support unified communications.
Why does FCR matter? Like we said earlier, it has a demonstrated connection to customer loyalty and happiness. In fact, every 1% increase in FCR may translate into a 1% jump in customer satisfaction, according to a study by SQM Group. But the biggest benefit comes from avoiding callbacks, which are time-consuming and frustrating for everyone involved.
The same survey found that each time someone had to call back about the same issue, their satisfaction plummeted 15%. Likewise, the Microsoft 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report revealed that repeat calls, even for complex issues requiring a lot of time to work through, were widely loathed. When asked what their top requirements for a good customer service experience were, respondents cited:
A high FCR rate indicates these issues are being kept in check, since most customers would in that case be getting satisfactory answers and not needing to call back or be transferred throughout the phone tree. At the same time, how do you determine if a call or other form of contact can accurately be marked “resolved”?
Ideally, your FCR rate will be not only very easy to understand but also highly reflective of the quality of customer service your agents are delivering. However, like many other forms of measurement, it can become confusing and even misleading if it isn’t clearly defined and consistently calculated.
More specifically, there are many possible variables that can influence an FCR rate, including the following situations that can, if not carefully handled, potentially muddy what counts as a successful resolution in a single interaction:
The good news is that there isn’t any universal right answer to how these scenarios should be accounted for. What’s more important is that you set clear rules for what isn’t and isn’t relevant to your FCR calculations and then stick to them.
Hitting a specific FCR rate benchmark - e.g., the industry standard of 70% to 75% - is important, but not as central as delivering the highest-quality service in every interaction. This is especially true as omni channel contact centers become more widely deployed and expand the possibilities for keeping customers happy.
For example, let’s say someone calls in with a complex issue that requires escalation, and that your definition of FCR includes escalations. Yet the call ends up taking a while to resolve and the customer is becoming frustrated as they remain on hold while the agents look up answers.
The end result might be good for your FCR rate but bad for the customer’s perception of your organization. A better alternative might have been to promptly call the customer back or connect with them over another channel they prefer but didn’t initially know was available to them.
Overall, FCR should be paired with other metrics like average handling time and abandoned call rates to get a realistic picture of how your contact center is functioning. Combining a comprehensive set of metrics with an omni channel contact center solution will deliver the best results in terms of customer satisfaction.
Solutions such as the Telesystem Omni Channel Contact Center help improve FCR and customer service quality in multiple ways: