What is first call resolution? Definition and benefits
A first call resolution rate, sometimes referred to as a first contact resolution rate, measures a business’s ability to resolve a customer’s question, problem, or need the first time they reach out for that specific issue. A successful first call resolution (FCR for short) would mean that no follow-up is necessary.
When a customer contacts your business seeking help for a customer service issue, they expect you to solve their problem by the end of the interaction. If you’re unable to do so, or your customers have to contact your business multiple times about the same issue, you wouldn’t be meeting the expectations of first call resolution.
Why is a first call resolution rate important?
The number one reason that first call resolution is so important is that it’s often linked with rates of customer satisfaction. If you have high FCR rates, then you’re offering superior customer experiences.
What’s more, we can point to two specific arguments for why FCR should be kept in mind when considering how to improve your customer service.
- You’ll retain more customers with first call resolutions
We can’t stress enough how important providing good customer service is to keeping your customers loyal and retaining their patronage. If you were to ask a hundred consumers what makes them stop buying from a brand, more than fifty of them will probably tell you about their poor customer service experience. Keep in mind that acquiring a new customer cost you more than keeping an existing one, which is why retention is so important.
When you can quickly respond to customers’ issues and solve their problems immediately, they’ll be satisfied with the service you’ve provided. If an issue was resolved in a friendly and timely manner, even a possible detractor can turn into someone who’ll praise your business. This could lead to you gaining more customers.
Also, let’s not forget that consumers are willing to spend more money on better customer service. So, you should never miss a chance at providing quality assistance and building customer relationships. One way to achieve that is by having excellent first call resolution.
- You can improve your agents’ performance
When a customer’s inquiry is solved by your team members the first time they reach out to your business, that means they won’t be demanding your team’s attention for the same problem later. This leads to fewer repeat calls, which leads to fewer calls overall.
With fewer calls going into your contact center, your customers will experience shorter hold times because your agents can get to them quicker. In having good FCR rates, your agents can help more customers and be more productive in their work.
Since FCR is such a valuable call center metric, we’re going to cover some of the more important aspects of it. Read until the end to make sure you and your agents are customer support pros. We’re going to talk about:
- What FCR is and how it’s measured
- What a good FCR looks like
- The best practices for first call resolution
- How to improve first call resolution
- FCR practices to avoid
As technology gets better and services expand their scope, your customers’ expectations will only get higher. You can create a smoother customer journey with a high first call resolution rate.
What is a first call resolution rate?
A first call resolution rate is a contact center metric used to help judge how well they’re providing customer service. If you do a good job resolving customers’ needs the first time they reach out for a specific issue, then you know you’re providing good customer support.
Improving your FCR will lead to greater overall customer satisfaction, which will keep customers coming back to your business. So you should include measuring FCR in the business process of your call center.
How is first call resolution measured?
You can measure FCR as long as you have the following metrics:
- The total number of resolved customer cases and
- The total number of cases during any particular time frame
To get your FCR rate, divide your number of resolved cases by the number of total cases during the time frame you’re measuring. Then multiply that number by a hundred to turn it into a positive integer.
FCR formula: FCR = (Total number of cases resolved / Total number of cases) x 100
An alternative way to measure your FCR would be to:
- Calculate the total number of issues resolved minus the total number of cases reopened
- Divide it by the total number of calls.
- Multiply it by a hundred to make it a positive integer
Alternative FCR formula: FCR = (Total issues resolved - Total issues reopened) / Total number of calls x 100
The higher your FCR, the better your business is at resolving customer issues the first time they reach out.
Of course, these equations alone may not fully illustrate how this can be applied to your company’s operations. So here are some examples that will hopefully make the concept of calculating your FCR rate clear.
How do you calculate the percentage of resolution?
Let’s say that Business X had a total of 1,200 calls in September and, of those interactions, the total number of cases that were resolved upon first contact is 689.
All you would have to do is divide the number of calls resolved (689) by the total number of calls (1200). This gives you a value of 0.5742.
Multiply that by 100 and you’ll get 57.4. This means Business X’s FCR rate is 57.4%.
Now let’s look at what would happen if we used the alternative formula to calculate Business X’s FCR. Let’s say that the number of cases reopened in September were forty-two. First, you would take the number of resolved cases (689) and minus the total number of cases that were reopened (42). This would give you 647.
Then we would divide that number (647) by the total number of calls (1200). This would give you a value of 0.5392. Multiply that by 100 and you have an FCR rate of 53.9%.
With these two examples, it’s important to notice that Business X’s FCR rate is different depending on the formula you choose to calculate it.
What is a good FCR?
Generally speaking, the contact center industry standard FCR rate is anywhere around 70-75%. So if your rate is 70% or higher, you know you’re doing well in terms of first contact resolution. Another way to think of this is you’d want to resolve customer issues during their first call about three out of four times.
However, as we pointed out with the FCR formulas of the previous section, there are different ways of measuring first call resolution, so the percentages will depend on the method of calculation you use.
All you have to know is that the higher your FCR rate is, the better your company is doing at assisting customers the first time they reach out. And higher FCR rates are linked to greater customer satisfaction.
First call resolution best practices
All this information about FCR would be incomplete if we didn’t discuss best practices. If your team members don’t know how to achieve FCR properly, your business will never reach its full potential.
Below, you’ll find three of the best first call resolution practices.
When one of your team members can identify the reason why a customer has asked for assistance, they’ll need to communicate what actions need to be taken to resolve the issue. If the customer needs to do something, your agent should walk them through the steps involved. If your agent needs to perform any action, then they should tell the customer what they’ll do and when it’ll be done.
It’s extremely important to communicate clearly so both the customer and the agent understand each other. By taking their time and giving thorough explanations, your team members can increase your business’s FCR rate.
Pro Tip: When an issue is especially complex, you can try sending some additional documentation or even a video tutorial if you have one. On the other hand, sometimes screen sharing or a video call can be your best option.
Actively listening is your best bet when it comes to identifying a customer’s problem. If you can quickly figure out what the customer wants and what’s preventing them from getting it, you can begin helping them immediately.
Actively listening includes both asking questions and repeating information back to your customer. It’s a way of getting additional details, clarifying misunderstandings, and ensuring everyone’s on the same page.
Although you may have other calls and emails to get to, never be in a rush to end the interaction with a customer. A simple, “Is there anything else that I can help you with today?” will do wonders for your FCR.
Doing this encourages the customer to relay other points of friction in their experience with your offerings and reduces the chance that the same person will call back with a related issue.
When you prompt your callers to do this, you’ll also be addressing possible issues before they become a problem later.
How do I improve my first call resolution?
Define your FCR escalations
Make answers to common issues easy to find
Route calls in contact centers for improved FCR
Contact center software makes data collection easier
Survey your customers to make sure you’re doing a good job
Empower your agents to reach out to experts beyond the contact centers
FCR practices to avoid in contact centers
There are many benefits to measuring FCR rates, but there are ways of approaching this key productivity indicator (KPI) that can be harmful to your business. Since we covered some best practices and ways to improve your FCR, it makes sense that we discuss some pitfalls that some companies mistakenly fall into. Below are three such traps you should avoid.
Paying incentives to your team members based on their FCR rate
Hiding FCR rates from your contact center team
Comparing agents’ FCR rates against each other in a call center
Ensure a great customer journey with FCR
As you’ve read, first call resolution is a great way of providing customer service. When you resolve issues the first time customers reach out to your business, they’re more satisfied and your agents are more productive.
While it can be difficult to maintain a high FCR rate, you’ll be performing well in no time if you keep the above practices and strategies in mind. To recap, we covered the following topics:
- What first call resolution (FCR) is and why it’s important
- How to measure FCR
- What a good FCR rate should be
- FCR best practices
- Ways to improve your FCR
- FCR practices you should avoid
FCR may only be one aspect of providing quality customer service, but if you invest in monitoring it, you’ll see positive results for both your agents and customers.