25 examples of responsible AI: How to leverage AI while minimizing risk
Despite increased investments in AI, concerns about AI risks are also prominent. Read this blog to learn about examples of responsible AI, showcasing ...
The Team at CallMiner
September 24, 2019
Updated March 16, 2023
First-call resolution (FCR) is an important call center performance metric and element of customer relationship management (CRM). The term is self-explanatory: a contact center’s ability to resolve customer problems, questions or needs the first time they call, with no follow-up required.
FCR not only helps gauge customer satisfaction – the higher your first-call resolution rate, the more satisfied your customers tend to be – and, as a result, drive customer loyalty, but also measures your agents’ efficiency and, ultimately, acts as an important factor in contact center profitability.
Often, FCR metrics are considered along with talk time (the average time spent on a customer call). High FCR rates, paired with low talk time, is a common goal for contact centers.
The key to improving first-call resolution is vigilance. You must evaluate current FCR, develop achievable goals, and then put a plan into place. After your plan is in place, it’s important to be attentive, measure performance, and track your metrics.
Conversation analytics (speech analytics) can have a great impact on FCR. Take this example: Aberdeen published a benchmark study in which it tracked two groups of contact centers: the “leaders,” which represented the top 30% of the sampled group, and the “followers,” which were defined as the bottom 70%.
Surprisingly (but not), the leaders using conversation analytics averaged a 76% first-call resolution rate; comparatively, the followers had a 23% average FCR.
So, what is it about conversation analytics that helps to improve FCR rates? Simply put, FCR can be a tough call center KPI to track: How do you determine whether an issue is fully resolved during the first contact? Enter conversation analytics, which capture real interactions, integrate speech with caller identifiers, and in that way correlate repeat calls with specific agents, products, or issues. By identifying the reasons behind repeat contact, you can then take action to resolve these underlying issues that affect FCR and the entire customer experience.
The primary benefit of tracking FCR is the ability to identify issues that lower FCR rates, and then resolve them. Fewer issues mean better FCR rates and, at the end of the day, improved FCR means happier customers. In fact, research found that for every 1% increase in FCR, there’s a 1% increase in customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) as well.
On the other hand, there’s a 15% decrease in customer satisfaction every time a customer has to contact the company for the same issue.
Improving FCR can also boost customer retention. Research from Accenture showed that 67% of customers said they’d stay with a company that addressed a customer service issue in a single interaction. However, nearly one-fourth of customers (23%) are likely to discontinue doing business with a company if their call is unresolved.
FCR can impact operating costs, too. Because a higher FCR means your agents are resolving customer service inquiries faster, call centers can realize a 1% decrease in operating costs for every 1% increase in FCR.
In addition to customer satisfaction, improving contact center FCR is directly related to improved agent performance, and therefore increased efficiency and business performance.
As with many contact center metrics, the challenges of improving FCR reside in the how? How can you identify room for improvement and when you do, how can you improve FCR?
Again, this is where technology comes into play. Gone are the days (or, at least, gone they should be) when agents themselves input resolution statuses after a call. Today, through the use of speech analytics, customer feedback, and other tech, you can streamline how your contact center collects, understands, and responds to raw data on FCR. Then, you can make a plan (see “How to Improve FCR,” above).
When it comes to first-call resolution, it boils down to consistency. Once you understand your FCR goals, know how to track FCR properly, and have a plan to improve, you have laid solid groundwork. From there, ensure your contact center follows first call resolution best practices and set realistic goals:
Even while following the best practices for first-call resolution, you’ll find that the metric may still be improved. Even if a call center is performing well, bettering FCR can help your team reach new heights of customer satisfaction.
Here is a short list of tips for improving your FCR.
Asking the right questions at the start of an interaction ensures that call center agents have the information they need to properly address the customer’s concern. It’s also a good idea to ask, “Is there any other relevant information that you think I should know?” before moving on to a resolution. Sometimes, it’s the details that customers think are unimportant that provide clues.
For instance, say a customer changed a setting in a software application, but an unrelated feature no longer works. If this simple adjustment is causing the issue, agents who know about it can resolve the customer’s issue quickly. A small detail that seems completely irrelevant might just reveal the solution.
There are issues that may not reach a resolution on the first call, such as an outage for a phone company. If a customer calls with an unexplained outage, it will likely take a couple of calls to get a technician scheduled. That said, identifying these issues and implementing measures to reach a faster resolution will improve customer satisfaction and, with some tactics, avoid repeated interactions.
To use the same example, a phone company can employ a call-back system to alert customers once issues have been resolved — reducing the number of customers who would need to initiate a second call.
Once you’ve identified those issues, it’s a good idea to segment calls that may require more than one call to reach a resolution. Having dedicated processes and team members to handle these issues, may reduce the number of calls while improving your overall customer satisfaction for these tougher issues.
Develop self-service options like a comprehensive knowledge base, FAQs, tutorials, blogs posts, and other easily accessible content. Often, customers will look for ways to resolve their issue on their own before contacting customer service. Keeping your self-service information resources up to date and ensuring that they’re easy for customers to find can help to improve FCR.
For instance, a customer may have worked through several steps to resolving an issue before they call, so they really just need guidance with the last few steps. Self-service options also reduce the number of calls into the call center, which means you have more qualified agents with time to spend resolving more complex issues — during the first interaction.
It’s always a great idea to remove the number of steps it takes for customers to resolve an issue. While some steps are often necessary like call routing, extra steps should only be included when it reduces overall call time. A phone company that offers a call back when service is restored or when an appointment is booked is a fitting example of reducing customer workload. Keeping an eye on metrics like customer effort score (CES) can provide measurable insight here.
There are some situations in which a call center agent resolves the most pressing issue but fails to address a secondary question or concern before ending the interaction. Agents should ask customers:
By getting confirmation that the customer is satisfied with the outcome reduces the likelihood that they’ll need to contact customer service again for the same problem.
You can’t objectively improve what you aren’t tracking. Using omnichannel contact center software and regularly reviewing the metrics provides valuable insights into interactions that result in first-call resolution and those that result in mulitple interactions, as well as the impact these interactions have on customer satisfaction.
The data from measuring first call resolution can be used to:
Moving from one agent or department to another, even in the most well-run call centers, can (but doesn’t always) result in a number of issues. Every switch of the phone line potentially risks decreased customer satisfaction and worse FCR stats.
For instance, switching lines:
By and large, these issues are rare, yet inevitably happen.
“Any metric in your reporting strategy is only helpful if you’re able to use it to improve your performance. And with FCR, this is certainly the case.
“First, you can calculate FCR for individual channels within your support strategy to determine which are the most efficient. If your email support has a higher FCR than live chat, for example, this signals that your team is better at providing satisfactory and comprehensive resolutions on this channel. You can then use this insight to structure your team and focus on the most efficient channels.
“Beyond that, you can use FCR to establish clear-cut goals for your team. Measuring support can be a somewhat subjective undertaking, which doesn’t lend itself easily to goal-setting. But once you’ve calculated the FCR, you can use it as a benchmark of your current performance and use that benchmark to determine a reasonable goal for your team.
“The clearer you are with your expectations and goals, the easier it will be to motivate your team to achieve them.” – Everything You Need to Know about First Call Resolution (Guide), Freshworks; Twitter: @freshdesk
“The more you know about your customers, the better. Understanding why your customers are calling for support is a key factor in ensuring your support team is prepared to meet their needs.
“Anticipate the issues your customers might encounter, before they occur. This will improve customer satisfaction and FCR. To do this, you should analyze customer feedback and note down the frustrations they encounter when using your product or service.
“This data will provide insight into common concerns the customer might have after the call. You can anticipate their needs during the first call and save them from having to reach out again in the future.” - Kate Vogel, 8 first call resolution best practices: Benefits, challenges, and more, Ring Central; Twitter: @RingCentral
“Let's begin with the core of your support effort: the knowledge base. In an ideal world, this help center should hold all of the product knowledge and answers to your most commonly asked questions. If you have a fantastic knowledge base center, your customers should be able to arrive at these articles and find the answers they need without having to look much further. Well, you might argue, it doesn’t actually help increasing your first call resolution. Because thanks to these articles, customers won’t even have to call you. While that’s technically right, in many cases, simply sharing the links to these articles will be sufficient to help customers reaching out to you via email, chat or social media to solve their problem - without having to contact you again.” - 10 best practices to improve your first call resolution, Wix Answers; Twitter: @wixanswers
First-call resolution is one of the most important metrics for call center efficiency and customer satisfaction. By implementing these best practices as well as call center best practices, you can reduce repeat calls and increase customer satisfaction by resolving issues and concerns without repeat contacts. See how you can increase these metrics with better speech analytics.