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What is First Call Resolution? The Best Tips to Improve FCR Rates

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What is First Call Resolution? The Best Tips to Improve FCR Rates

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First Call Resolution (FCR) is one of the most important metrics for any contact centre to monitor accurately. Also known as first contact resolution or first touch resolution, FCR is the percentage of customer service requests resolved during a first interaction with a customer service representative.

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According to a study carried out by Akio in partnership with LSA, 70% of consumers say they are ready to change supplier/brand if they don't get a satisfactory response from the first contact. In fact, according to the same study, 99% of them consider it important to resolve their issue at first contact.

Clearly, first contact resolution is key to a company's success. Continue reading this article to find out how to improve first call resolution. We'll cover:

  • Why first call resolution is an important metric for your call centre
  • How FCR improves your customer satisfaction rate
  • How you improve your first touch resolution and enhance customer satisfaction

What is the First Call Resolution?

FCR is when the customer service representative resolves a customer's enquiry during the first contact or call. There is no need for the customer to contact the customer service team a second time regarding their question or issue. The first touch resolution is the percentage of calls resolved during a first call to the call centre.

Obviously that's what customers want — to get their query resolved, their questions answered, without delay. To the customer there are no big or small problems, no straightforward vs complex ones — there is simply their own concern, and that's what they need sorting out. If they get that done, then the call has probably been a successful one for them, and they're a happy customer.

Customers express satisfaction through various lag indicators like NPS scores, online reviews, user surveys, etc. All of these metrics provide retrospective value however, whereas FCR can and should be tracked continuously, so any declines can be promptly identified and addressed. If you wait until sentiment analysis reveals that reviews are going downhill, a lot of damage could already have been done to your brand.

And of course, resolving issues in a single call is efficient for the business too — less time wasted backtracking and recontacting, instead the agent can get straight on to supporting the next caller in line. So, improvements in FCR are a win-win, for the business and its customers.

Why is your First Contact Resolution important?

FCR is a direct, real-time measure of customer experience and the overall efficiency of your customer support service centre. As we just mentioned, no other metric provides quite the same insight into call centre management and customer satisfaction.

In terms of call centre health, repeated contact with a company is synonymous with a significant amount of time spent explaining the problem in order to resolve it. This can indicate issues like:

  • Undertrained customer service agents
  • Confusing materials or processes that impact the agent or customer
  • Dissatisfaction with the aid provided by the customer service agent
  • Unreliable phone service (leading to poor connection or disconnected calls)
  • Customers call to check the status of an unresolved issue

First contact resolution not only lowers your company's operating costs, it also improves customer satisfaction and builds long-term customer loyalty.

After you pinpoint what inquiries lead to repeated calls from customers, you'll be able to create strategies to address the underlying causes. As such, you'll be able to create a specific customer strategy optimised by the data-based conclusions you've drawn thanks to FCR.

Benefits of first call resolution

We've covered how the first call resolution metric can inform your customer service strategy. However, tracking this metric can lead to other benefits for your support centre.

Customer retention

Everyone has had a poor customer service experience, and knows the frustration it causes. So it's not surprising that poor customer service is a key reason for customers to look for alternatives. In fact, 96% of customers say customer service impacts their loyalty to a brand.

Customer satisfaction

This is related to customer retention, as customer satisfaction feeds customer retention. So the better a customer's experience, the stronger their loyalty to a brand, and the more profitable they will be.

Willingness to spend

If a customer is satisfied by their customer service experience, they'll be more inclined to return to the business for other products or services, or maintain a subscription over an extended period of time.

Improved efficiency

When it comes to addressing customer service calls, the most efficient way to handle them is in one interaction. IF customer service agents are able to resolve a customer inquiry with one call, they'll have the time to deal with more customers. This also leads to a decrease in wait times for the customers.

Employee satisfaction

We've discussed customer satisfaction at length, but first call resolution also has a strong impact on employee satisfaction. Customer service agents love to help, and they want to do it well. If they have the tools and knowledge available to effectively resolve customer inquiries during a first contact, they'll feel more empowered, and satisfied, by their job.

Decreased costs

If your agents are moving through calls efficiently, this obviously results in cost savings. But FCR also yields cost savings because the employees are satisfied, decreasing attrition rates. The time and money normally invested in recruiting and training new agents will decrease, helping the business as a whole.

How to measure First Call Resolution

Metrics can bring enormous value to a business, especially one as insightful as first call resolution. However, the trick is to calculate the first call resolution rate properly. Here are a few metrics you'll need to measure to successfully calculate FCR.

  • Total number of support calls
  • Total number of support inquiries by channel
  • Total number of resolutions (according to a predetermined criteria)
  • Total number of first call resolutions
  • Escalation rate per type of inquiry
  • Average resolution times per inquiry type
  • Inquiry types that are rarely resolved
  • Average NPS per inquiry type

To track changes, what matters is consistency of the data over time. Exactly what you measure and how you express it can vary, according to the nature of your business and the kind of enquiries you typically receive.

For meaningful data you'll need to agree on whether a measured callback includes callers who were recontacted via chat or email. You'll have to decide if it counts toward FCR if the call is transferred to another agent, or escalated. Only once you are measuring the same thing consistently will your analytics be truly accurate.

It's one thing to want to track your business, but it's quite another to do it effectively. Obviously, the aim is to avoid manually recording and copying your figures into a table. You need to choose the right tools to track the relevant indicators of your business in a simple, automated way.

A call centre solution such as Ringover enables you to collect a wide range of call statistics, from call history to real-time call data. Plus, Ringover integrates with your CRM and business tools via a specific API and webhooks, so you can obtain more comprehensive data.

How to improve First Call Resolution scores

If you see FCR scores are low or declining in your contact centre, there are many factors which could be at play. It's essential to take a data-driven view of the situation, and make sure you're fixing the right problem.

  1. Evaluate the status quo
  2. Find points of improvement
  3. Specify the goals to improve FCR
  4. Design a plan to reach each goal
  5. Measure the strategy's success by tracking performance

FCR best practices

1. Optimise internal documentation

When you identify queries that occur frequently, this is a clear candidate for standardisation. If you document the responses and processes associated with these questions, your agents can act more efficiently. Accessibility is another aspect of documentation that can often be optimised. If documentation is difficult for your agents to access, you run the risk of them not consulting it. This can lead to inaccurate or confusing responses–and certainly a decrease in your FCR.

2. Ensure rapid responses are possible

No one likes to wait, and even less when they have a customer service issue. So ensuring that you respond to inquiries quickly will help to improve the first call resolution rate and increase customer satisfaction.

3. Define resolutions and define escalations

This best practice is the key to correctly calculating your first call resolution. If your agents don't have a common definition of what a resolved customer service inquiry is, your agents will not resolve the inquiries in a consistent fashion. As for escalations, defining them is very important.

For example, if an agent escalates a customer service call to a colleague who is their same rank but more experienced, they may consider that an escalation. But, their manager may not consider this an escalation because the two agents are technically of the same rank. This sort of inconsistencies will impact your first call resolution rate, so they need to be clarified.

4. Understand your customers

Quickly identifying the customer's goal and what is stopping them from achieving it is key during a customer service call. Once they have described their issue, the agent should repeat the main points and issues to confirm they have correctly understood. Remembering these somewhat basic best practices is key as call centre softwares incorporate IVR menus. Customers with basic or common inquiries will be able to self-resolve their questions. So the agents will speak mainly to exceptional or complex cases, making this type of check in even more important.

5. Choose a complete call centre solution

Call centre solutions have advanced significantly in recent years, providing key functionalities to help raise the FCR.

  • Complete call logs. A business phone system, coupled with CRM integration, will give you access to essential caller data (caller name, company, phone number, email...), enabling your agents to get to know your callers better, as well as catch up on any previous exchanges with your company. The agents will then be better prepared to solve their problem, without having to transfer the call or call them back.
  • CRM and helpdesk integration: Investing in a call centre solution that is integrated with your CRM and business tools will automatically perform certain relevant tasks, considerably improving the performance of your agents and your FCR. A solution like Ringover will automatically update your agents' call logs and provide accurate caller information in real time. In this way, your agents will save time and will no longer need to repeatedly enter information in two separate software, the CRM and VoIP software.
  • Skill-based call routing. A feature such as smart routing will enable you to better meet the needs of your callers by routing calls based on your agents' skills. With call routing, your callers will be automatically redirected to the person who will be able to respond quickly and correctly to their request. Once again, customer satisfaction is enhanced, as is your first contact resolution rate.
  • Call tags. Many call centre solutions allow you to assign tags to each call. This is a system for classifying calls according to specific elements. This allows calls to be organised according to business needs, then filtered and analysed. These tags can be assigned according to various characteristics: the department in charge of the call (customer support, technical support, sales teams, billing...), the language spoken, etc. This tool can help your agents get clear information about your callers and their requests. Coupled with a call routing system, call tags will guarantee proper call distribution, and therefore greater customer satisfaction. It could even prove to be the most important tool for improving your company's FCR.

6. Follow up with customers

Even if the customer inquiry was resolved during one call, following up with the customer is still best practice. You can use an IVR menu to create a survey and collect information on the customer service agent's performance, or follow up using a different communication channel. If your business is currently implementing an omnichannel strategy, try experimenting with satisfaction surveys via email or social media to find out what channel your customers prefer.

7. Put your agents in position to win

Improving agent performance is another effective way of increasing the RCF. Think about properly training your agents. They need to be able to respond to the various requests made by your callers. They need to master the various tools at their disposal, the internal procedures to follow, and how to communicate with customers.

Provide them with in-depth training on these different aspects, and make sure you keep them informed of any new developments or internal company changes. Give your agents access to assistance when they need it. With a telephony solution featuring supervisory functions such as call monitoring or call whisper, your agents will be able to call on the help of more competent people.

First Call Resolution FAQ

How do I improve my first call resolution?

When observing low or declining FCR (First Call Resolution) scores within your contact centre, it is imperative to adopt a data-driven approach to address the underlying factors effectively. Identifying the correct problem is crucial in devising appropriate solutions.

Here are 15 steps to improve your first call resolution:

  1. Evaluate the current situation: Begin by thoroughly assessing the current state of affairs in your contact centre. Examine the existing processes, customer service protocols, and agent performance metrics to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges affecting FCR scores.
  2. Identify areas for improvement: During the evaluation process, pinpoint specific areas that require enhancement to improve FCR scores. Analyse customer feedback, call logs, and interaction data to identify recurring issues and pain points.
  3. Set clear FCR improvement goals: Based on the insights gained from the evaluation, establish clear and measurable goals to enhance First Call Resolution. These objectives should align with the contact centre's overall performance targets and customer satisfaction benchmarks.
  4. Develop a comprehensive improvement plan: Devise a detailed plan that outlines the steps needed to achieve each FCR improvement goal. This plan should include specific actions to address identified weaknesses, provide training to agents, streamline processes, and implement technology if necessary.
  5. Monitor progress and measure success: Consistently monitor the progress of your improvement plan and track key performance indicators. Regularly assess FCR scores and other relevant metrics to measure the strategy's effectiveness. Adjust the plan as needed to ensure continuous improvement.
  6. Develop an efficient knowledge base. Ensure your support effort centres around a comprehensive knowledge base. This help centre should house essential product information and frequently asked questions. A well-structured and well-written knowledge base will enable customers to find solutions without the need for further assistance. By sharing links to these articles, you can also address customer inquiries via email, chat, or social media effectively.
  7. Minimise customer effort. Streamline the process of reaching customer service to enhance customer satisfaction. Avoid making customers jump through hoops to receive assistance, as it can lead to frustration and repeat contacts. Make sure your contact information is easily accessible on your website, support centre, and even on the product itself. Being available on social media for customer service is now essential for most businesses.
  8. Understand customer issues. Gathering precise and exhaustive information about customer problems empowers your support team to provide efficient solutions. Actively listen to customers, take notes during conversations, and repeat and confirm information to ensure clarity. This approach aids in isolating the issue and resolving it effectively.
  9. Provide clear and concise answers. Deliver precise answers without overwhelming customers with unnecessary information. Unclear instructions or incomplete responses may lead to repeated contacts for clarification. Strike a balance between being thorough and concise to enhance your first call resolution rate.
  10. Anticipate customer needs. Proactively address potential issues by analysing customer interactions with your product or service. Gather feedback and note any frustrations to anticipate future questions. By addressing these questions during the initial contact, you can save customers from needing further assistance.
  11. Empower customers. Encourage customers to utilise available tools, such as the support centre, to find answers independently. Offer easy-to-follow instructions and walk them through processes, fostering a sense of empowerment and reducing reliance on support calls.
  12. Address all questions. During interactions, carefully document customer inquiries and ensure each one is addressed before concluding the call. This demonstrates genuine interest in providing comprehensive support.
  13. Provide quality training to your team. Equip your support agents with comprehensive product knowledge and training on various topics. This ensures their competence and builds confidence, leading to higher customer satisfaction.
  14. Motivate your agents. Promote a positive and motivating work environment for your support team. Happy agents are more likely to deliver exceptional customer service, prioritise quality over quantity, and ultimately improve the first call resolution.
  15. Review support channels and gather feedback. Regularly review interactions from various support channels to identify recurring issues. Understanding why customers return for assistance allows you to work on effective solutions and continuous improvement.

By adhering to a methodical and data-driven approach, your contact centre can proactively address FCR challenges and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

Why is first call resolution so important?

First call resolution is an important metric because it gives customer- and employee-facing insights into your call centre. FCR indicates how efficiently your customer service inquiries are resolved. The more quickly they are resolved, the higher the customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. FCR also indicates how well your call centre runs and its profitability or potential for profitability. If your agents are capable of resolving most of their customer inquiries with one call, that indicates they are well-trained and have the resources they need–and vice versa!

What does FCR stand for?

FCR stands for First Call Resolution or First Contact Resolution. It's a key performance indicator for call centres, especially inbound call centres. It measures the ability of a call centre or contact centre to resolve customer issues on the first call.

How to calculate the first call resolution rate?

To calculate the FCR (First Call Resolution) rate, you'll need the following data:

  • The total number of resolved queries
  • The number of cases resolved on the first call

The calculation is as follows: Divide the number of cases resolved on the first call by the total number of queries resolved, then multiply the result by 100.

The formula for first-call resolution rate can be summarised as follows:

First call resolution rate = (Problems resolved on first call / Total number of problems handled) x 100

Example: if your customer service center has handled 127 calls and your agents have completely resolved 86 problems, then your first call resolution rate is :

FCR rate = (86/127) x 100 = 67.72%.

How to read and interpret the first call resolution rate?

Once you've calculated your rate, you can interpret it as follows:

  • The higher the percentage, the better your inbound call center is at resolving your customers' problems on the first call.
  • If the percentage is low, you certainly need to review your strategy and the quality of your product/service. You can identify areas for improvement using tools such as double-listening and call recording.

What is a good FCR?

A good first-contact call resolution rate is generally between 70 and 75%.

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