First Call Resolution is a vital contact center metric that monitors accurate and prompt support, tracking the number of customer issues resolved within the first support call. Fast-paced consumers want brands to value their time and expect their needs to be met on time—no matter how they get in touch with the brand— which makes FCR a leading indicator of customer happiness and a direct measure of a call center’s operational efficiency.
In this article, you’ll gain a better understanding of what first call resolution is, how the FCR rate is measured, and discover ways to improve first call resolution.
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The number of customer requests resolved the very first time a customer places a call to a contact center is known as first call resolution (FCR).
Initially used only as a call center metric, first call resolution has now evolved to a more comprehensive metric considering the rising expectations of the digital-first customer. No longer confined to the telephony system, consumers reach out to brands through multiple channels like social media, email, website portals, or live chat—bringing into the picture first contact resolution.
First contact resolution rate is used interchangeably with first call resolution and is the percentage of customer support requests or tickets completely resolved within the first contact made by the customer from any of these digital channels. This could mean resolution in one live chat session on any messaging channel, closing an issue within one mail from the customer, or just one customer interaction on a Twitter thread.
Why is FCR so important?
According to a recent Forrester study1, 34% of CX leaders use first contact resolution to define their organization’s customer service performance. This shows that CX leaders treat FCR as an actionable metric to measure speedy and effective customer service.
And why’s that? Because when you’re able to resolve customer issues in one go, customers feel more satisfied getting their concerns sorted with minimal effort from their side. Effortless resolutions reflect positively on customer satisfaction rates and the overall customer experience your brand delivers.
Achieving good first call resolution rates is highly indicative of robust internal processes, sound team structuring, and well-trained staff with easy access to the right tools and documentation.
Several factors, such as industry type, issue complexity, and support channels, play a significant role in influencing FCR rates. That’s why measuring first call resolution may get a little complicated. You will need to accurately define what a first contact resolution means – specifically for your business – and communicate the FCR policies clearly to your employees.
First call resolution formula:
First call resolution is generally calculated by dividing the number of requests resolved in the first call by the total number of calls handled by the contact center during a specific time period.
You can measure the FCR using the following formula:
First contact resolution rate = Number of tickets resolved after the first contact made by the customer / Total number of tickets resolved in the same time period *100.
Suppose your customer service team resolves 950 queries in a particular month, and 734 of them were resolved in the first contact. Then your FCR rate would be 77.26% (734/950 * 100). Higher FCR rates denote more successful and effortless resolutions.
While calculating first contact resolution, it’s also essential to agree on the nuances of what is considered a repeat call or repeat interaction. In Freshdesk, FCR is calculated as tickets with zero customer interaction – leaving out the first description of the query, irrespective of the number of agent responses. Freshdesk also allows you to measure FCR by source channel, request type, or priority.
A good first contact resolution rate is not fixed for every company but varies according to your business’s industry, size, and nature. Note the FCR industry standard for your business and aim to maintain the rates consistently within your organization. Generally, addressing 70% to 75% of your incoming queries in the first contact keeps customers happy.
First contact resolution rate aligns closely with important customer experience drivers like customer happiness, brand loyalty, and other vital CX metrics like CSAT, NPS, or CES. How you interact with customers in their first contact significantly impacts their overall customer experience
- Boosts customer satisfaction: First call resolution denotes a happy customer, as every 1% increase in FCR sees a 1% rise in CSAT score.2
- Reduces customer churn: Low-effort resolutions drive loyalty and customer retention, with 61%3 of customers who’ve had their problems resolved with less effort choosing to stay with the company.
- Improves your chances to sell: Customers are more open to cross-selling and upselling opportunities when you resolve their queries in one go.
- Cuts operating costs: When first contact resolution is achieved, it prevents a lot of back and forth between the customer and the agent, bringing down agent-intensive handling costs.
- Improves support team structuring: Analyzing this critical customer service metric by the types of problems that arrive at your helpdesk or the channel used to reach will help you better allocate the right resources for different issues.
Related resource: How the number of interactions per ticket impacts CSAT scores
#1 Define how your business measures FCR
First call resolution measurement varies based on the industry, the complexity of the queries you receive, and how your support team defines the FCR metric. Iron out the differences in how FCR is measured and settle on a comfortable method for both your agents and customers. As suggested by the SQM group4, who are leaders in benchmarking and tracking call center FCR, you might have to look into details like –
- Whom the FCR is centered around – customer (measured with post-call survey responses) or agent (calculated from tickets handled)
- What is defined as a repeat call in your setup?
- Are there specific requests exempted from FCR measurement?
- What are the channels in which FCR is applicable, and what constitutes first contact resolution in each of these channels? E.g., Single chat session for live chat, agent response mail + thank you mail acknowledgment in email support, etc.,
If first contact resolution is a priority at your organization, make it a regular practice to track and instill FCR as a key performance indicator (KPI) for your customer support agents. Once the measuring mechanisms are set in place, carefully track the improvements and drops in FCR performance biweekly or monthly.
#2 Route calls based on customers’ preferred language and agents’ specialized skills
As much as speaking the language of the customer is about empathizing and reflecting the tone of a customer, communicating in the customer’s first language is of greater importance. Research indicates that 79%5 of contact centers have customers who don’t speak the primary language the center serves, and 60% of those customers expect service in their native language3.
Similarly, you may have a group of agents trained in handling certain technical support requests that other reps might not have expertise in. Knowing your customers’ language preferences and the nature of queries and routing them to the right agent groups in their very first interaction avoids unnecessary call transfers and brings you closer to achieving FCRs.
#3 Ensure agents have adequate domain and product expertise
Domain and product knowledge prove invaluable for customer service agents to address customer needs confidently. When an anxious mother rings up to check if a particular pastry is gluten-free, a confused voice from the other end is not what she wants to hear.
Equipping agents with detailed information on the products and services you offer and sound knowledge of customers’ expectations enable them to understand customer issues clearly and shortens resolution times.
#4 Focus on total contact ownership for agents
Instill a sense of ownership and accountability amongst agents to take up a customer’s issue and drive it to closure right from the first contact. Recognize agents who collaborate with teams to provide a solution rather than simply pointing their fingers at a coworker and getting the issue off their hands, which further affects first call resolution.
#5 Incentivize good FCR rates
Winning adds an element of thrill, excitement, and accomplishment to any activity – not just on Super Mario. Recognizing agents who consistently close tickets in their first contact with customers underlines the significance of first contact resolution and motivates agents to strive for better FCR rates.
Freshdesk’s leaderboard identifies agents with high FCR rates with a ‘Sharpshooter’ trophy and gives the flexibility to calculate award points according to the industry and company.
#6 Use post-call or support surveys
Ask your customers how easy it was to get their issue resolved once their problem is fixed. There are many types of customer satisfaction surveys — CSAT, Customer Effort Score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS) — that measure different aspects of support and help you find if a customer was happy with the service offered.
Framing the right questions in the customer feedback survey will allow you to measure and also find if there were any roadblocks that a customer faced during the issue resolution process. A simple survey question like ‘Was your issue resolved in the first call with the agent?’ is an example of the external measurement of FCR.
Related resource: Your guide to customer satisfaction surveys
#7 Follow up and listen to dissatisfied customers
Even if your agent didn’t get the answer right in the first call, encourage them to reach back to unhappy customers and find out what could have gone better. This signals that you listen to customers’ frustrations and helps you get closer to first contact resolution when you manage the same customer again or while your team faces customers in similar situations.
Related resource: How to gather customer feedback effectively
Tip #1: Automate to simplify call and request handling
In the fast-paced digital environment, customer issues pour in from different channels, which turn stressful for call center agents to resolve promptly. Automating the call and ticket handling process eases support activity and improves your agents’ productivity.
A few instances of workload automation include –
- Automated call routing: You can route incoming customer calls to appropriate agents through an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) or even let voice bots handle simple queries without agent intervention by configuring smart call flows in your contact centers.
- Include callback options: Since customers don’t like to be on hold for a long time, you can add them to a virtual queue and give call-back options for stress-free resolution.
- Automate agent skill-based ticket assignment: – Not all agents are equally capable of handling all customer requests. You can then group agents under different buckets and automatically route tickets according to their skillset for swift and quality resolution. You can also consider language proficiency, product or service feature expertise, channel competency, customer impact, and demographics while assigning the tickets.
- Collaborate on call: When agents need the assistance of an expert or coworker to close a customer’s issue, options like call-conferencing allow an agent to include a team member in real-time who can help resolve the query in the same call.
Tip #2: Increase and enhance self-service options
Though customers generally prefer live support, a well-thought self-service strategy will leave a customer feeling empowered and accomplished in finding the solution with minimal effort. 39%6of consumers agree that they can resolve issues faster with self-service options compared to other support channels, as per our recent research.
Curate commonly asked customer questions as simple FAQs in an easily accessible knowledge base that customers can refer to without any confusion. In-depth product tutorials, community forums, and embedding chatbots within chat and messaging channels are other customer self-service strategies you can implement.
Identifying common issues, visualizing the resolution steps, and implementing the correct workflows on Interactive Voice Response(IVR) systems and AI-powered chatbots make a self-service implementation highly effective.
Tip #3: Keep an up-to-date internal knowledge base
A detailed and well-compiled internal knowledge base helps agents find the information they need faster and speeds up the resolution process. Collect and store product guides, troubleshooting workflows, and answers to common queries in a centralized location to boost the productivity of your customer service representatives. An agent-facing knowledge base is also a great tool for onboarding new members to your support team.
Structure and organize your knowledge base meticulously for ease of search. Add video tutorials and screenshots to explain solutions better and update your solution articles when you make feature changes, modify company policies, or encounter other common problems that need support documentation.
In Freshdesk, you can create solution articles and set the visibility to ‘Agents’ for building an internal knowledge base. Using agent-assist bots – like Freddy, to recommend relevant solution articles and canned responses for agents to add in support tickets further saves time in the resolution journey.
Related resource: How to build an effective internal knowledge base
Tip #4: Train agents on support etiquette and people skills
Customers would like to know they are valued and acknowledged in every interaction with your brand. Being sensitive to customer emotions and psychology helps you empathize with their situation and offer meaningful support. It’s then important to invest in agent training and upskill your call center agents on critical support etiquette and communication skills that’ll avoid irking or frustrating your customers on their resolution journey.
Here are a few first call resolution tips for agents to improve FCR rates –
- Prioritize responding quickly to customer calls and providing timely updates.
- Greeting a new customer, listening attentively to what they say, and politely closing interactions have a major impact on the overall customer journey. In fact, our recent research6 shows that 52% of customers stopped buying from a brand during the pandemic due to insensitive communication (17%) and high call center wait times (22%).
- Avoid long wait times with customers on hold as it flares up their frustration and negatively affects first call resolution.
- Take the liberty to transfer calls with context to subject matter experts who can close the issue better after notifying the customer.
Related resource: Get started with customer service agent training
Tip #5: Invest in omnichannel support capabilities
When your team of support agents can view and access customer information across different channels — web support portal, email, social media, chat, phone — in one place, they have better context on customer needs. With all the insights in a unified application, agents can manage customer interactions better without jumping from one app to another, leading to faster resolution times.
Omnichannel support also gives a hassle-free experience to customers who might use multiple channels to resolve an issue yet don’t find the need to repeat themselves in every channel.
Having all emails automatically converted into tickets with basic customer query information along with service history and interaction records led to a 25%-30% improvement in first contact resolution for GigaSpaces, an in-memory technology solutions provider.
While first call resolution is important, don’t single it out as the only metric that measures the success of your support function. Ultimately, you want customers’ problems to be resolved entirely for them to be truly satisfied and happy with your brand.
Tracking FCR in proportion to other customer service metrics will help you deliver timely and exceptional support every single time.
Updated on January 5, 2023.