first call resolution

How to Implement and Measure First Call Resolution Effectively

First Call Resolution Rate (FCR) is considered to be perhaps the most important metric used by Contact Centres to measure team performance and customer satisfaction.

However, the value of it depends on what exactly is being measured, how it’s being measured, and what is done with the information.

Is FCR a worthwhile KPI?

SQM Group reports that for every 1% improvement you make in FCR, you get a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction, too. They also found that on average, customer satisfaction drops by 15% every time a customer has to call back about the same issue.

A Contact Center Benchmarking Study by The Ascent Group found that 44% of participants measuring first contact resolution for more than one year reported an average annual gain of 3%. Participants also reported an average 8% improvement in customer satisfaction.

Clearly, improving FCR can directly improve customer satisfaction, and aiming to raise your rate of first call resolution would certainly be a worthwhile endeavour. Read on for our four tips on how to bring your FCR up to scratch, and keep it that way.

How do you measure FCR?

The way FCR is defined and measured is important.  What are your parameters for assessing when FCR is achieved?

  • Is it if the call does not have to be transferred to another department?
  • Is it if the customer doesn’t call back about that issue? If so, what is the window before the issue is considered resolved? 24 hours, 1 week?
  • What about other customer relationship channels, such as chat or social media? How about when issues migrate across channels? What would be the multichannel equivalent of FCR?

Contact centre staff can sometimes feel pressured to end calls prematurely to meet call-time and closure rate goals. This then is not a true measure of FCR, because the focus is not on satisfactory resolution. FCR measurement techniques must be reflective of the customers’ values and expectations.

The Ascent Group’s research identified four primary measures—three of which are internal approximations of First Contact Resolution; the fourth provides true customer feedback and perception, and the customer’s evaluation is what matters most.

customer satisfaction with contact centre
Source: Ascent Group - Achieving First Contact Resolution 2014 Whitepaper

“Internal measurement can only assume, by the lack of a repeat contact, that the issue was resolved. You really don’t know for sure if it was resolved or if the customer just gave up, unless you ask the customer.”

However, Ascent Group warns that internal metrics are prone to manipulation and may be more self-serving, depending upon how the data is collected, the scope, the qualifying window, repeat-call calculation definition, and subjectivity of the determination. Most companies they researched found that internal first contact resolution measures were overstated — the customer’s view of first contact resolution was usually lower than an internal measurement so it’s important to use customer feedback periodically to calibrate performance.

That being said, analysis of internal FCR metrics remains highly valuable for identifying process improvement opportunities, along with training and coaching needs.

Four ways to improve FCR

1. Empower your team

An efficient and very effective way to reduce call transfers and the need for call-backs, is to empower your team by giving them easy access to the information they need – such as knowledge systems, product data, and policies. This will save considerable time for your team members and your customers if the CRM and EPS data is integrated into the Agent Desktop of their Contact Centre Software.

For technical support, HDI’s research brief, “The Ups and Downs of Resolution Rates” found that organisations using knowledge-centred support typically enjoy much better first-call and first-level resolution rates than those who do not – often by as much as 15%.

The resolution rate categories are defined as:

  • First call resolution rate: The percentage of tickets resolved by any level as long as they are resolved on the initial call (phone only).
  • First contact resolution rate: The percentage resolved by the initial person who opens the ticket.
  • First level resolution rate: The percentage of tickets resolved without escalation to a higher level.
knowledge management in contact centres
Source: HDI Research Brief: The Ups and Downs of Resolution Rates

The use of knowledge management systems elevates FCR in other support environments as well.

  • “One of the largest global insurance providers realised a massive decrease in agent training costs by 50 percent, and a sharp drop of 30 percent in complaints.”
  • “An Australian Government agency saw its customer satisfaction levels surge to 93 percent as well as raise agent satisfaction and reduce handling time by 53 percent.”

See our post In Praise of Knowledge Management for further discussion on the use of knowledge management in Contact Centres.

2. Avoid setting conflicting performance goals

As the old adage goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

While there is nothing wrong with setting KPIs like FCR, time to resolution, and average queue time, you need to ensure that you don’t give mixed signals to your team. For example, if you are striving to achieve an FCR of 85%, but you also expect them to either resolve or escalate an issue within 7 minutes, you are forcing them to choose between the two goals.

Analysing the topic, why resolution extends beyond your “time to resolution” goal, and perhaps if it only occurs with certain team members, will give you the data you need to take rectification steps. It could simply be an update to the knowledge base or a process, training of a team member, or flagging of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the organisation.

Your team members will align and engage with achieving your organisational objectives if they clearly understand expectations, and are not constantly torn between doing their best to assist the customer and meeting KPIs.

3. If it’s important, make it important

One of the main reasons why strategies fail to achieve objectives and KPI results don’t meet expectations, is lack of interest and commitment from management.

It’s not enough to set goals and occasionally review results.

If organisational goals are focused on improving customer experience and loyalty, FCR needs to be committed to by all, not just the front line. Management needs to take a keen interest and demonstrate commitment.

This can be done by:

  • Incorporating FCR measures into staff compensation and incentive plans.
  • Regularly reviewing FCR performance, and customer feedback and satisfaction ratings, to ensure your FCR measurement program is actually working from the customers’ point of view.
  • Drilling down and looking for support issues that are a) regularly escalated, b) take a while to resolve, or c) are rarely resolved first time, and doing something about them. When management takes fast action to overcome recurring issues, team members feel supported and stay engaged and motivated to keep performing.
  • Communicating FCR prominently throughout your organisation—importance, performance, successes, and challenges. Discuss FCR performance and the impact of repeat calls and rework.
  • Giving agents the training, authority, and tools to help them get the job done right the first time. Help them view service from the customer perspective so they can work on their own skill sets and service delivery, and feel encouraged to offer suggestions that may improve processes.

4. Leverage technology to assist FCR

More advanced call centre solutions, like Premier Contact Point, deliver a wealth of data for analysis, including FCR results, and IVR post-call phone and web surveys to help gauge the true impact of FCR success.  To help team members improve their FCR rate we integrate company CRM data, knowledge management databases and other ERP systems to make it a lot easy and fast to find the information they need and not have to pass the customer onto someone else.

What’s Really Important

Now, it’s important to remember that first call resolution alone should not be your only goal; FCR works best in conjunction with other processes in place to ensure improved customer satisfaction. When issues can’t be resolved with the first call, what matters next is the solving them in the best way possible for the customer. Sometimes, if escalation can’t be avoided, or the customer has to be called back, it doesn’t necessarily mean failure – what matters is how thoroughly the customer’s issues have been resolved.

In a world where people are busy and have more and more to do in less time, efficient customer service is a high priority and a key component of customer satisfaction. Solving customer issues quickly is a worthy objective – but don’t let this KPI distract your team from following up with great service even when the first call doesn’t always lead to resolution.

How we help improve FCR

Premier Contact Point’s cloud contact centre solution includes several features which aid with delivery of first call resolution, including self-service options, CRM and ERP integration, and an impressive suite of Business Insight reports to provide real time display of FCR and other KPI results.

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