The benefits of improving first contact resolution rates

What is First Contact Resolution?

First contact resolution is one of the metrics that help you assess the performance and efficiency of your contact centre. First contact resolution measures your ability to resolve a customer’s issue the first time they get in touch and eliminates the need for a follow up. To calculate your first contact resolution rate, divide the total number of customer enquiries resolved on the first attempt by the total number of enquiries you received in a given time period.

What is the difference between First Contact Resolution and First Call Resolution (FCR)?

The term first call resolution (FCR) was introduced in a time when the phone call was the main type of interaction between a company and its customers or prospects. These days, however, the phone call is only one of multiple communication channels the customer can utilize when reaching out for support. As more and more companies embrace the “omnichannel” approach and adopt alternative methods of interaction (such as online chat, email, social media, etc.), the term “First Call Resolution” has gradually evolved into “First Contact Resolution” to encompass all the communication channels available to the customer.

How do I measure first contact resolution?

As mentioned earlier, first contact resolution is the percentage of resolved issues on the first attempt. Before actually calculating that percentage, you need to do some legwork to enable FCR to deliver insights relevant to your business and the needs of your customers.

Determine your definition of first contact resolution

In the context of your business, decide what is the definition of FCR. Are you interested in measuring the total number of successfully resolved requests on the first inquiry divided by the total number of inquiries over a period of time or might it make more sense to measure the number of resolved issues on the first inquiry divided by the total number of first inquiries? This is the crucial first step because your definition will determine the data you need to capture to measure first contact resolution.

Determine your definition of a successfully resolved issue

What does a resolved issue mean to you? That the customer’s problem was solved? That the customer was satisfied by the way you solved the problem? That the problem was solved without the need of a callback? These are all valid questions that also affect the analysis of your FCR and its relevance as a customer service KPI.

Specify for what time period you measure FCR

This time frame refers to the maximum amount of time that is allowed to go by between inquiries for them to contribute in the calculation of the FCR.

Measure customer satisfaction

The most important element of first contact resolution lies with your customers and their perception of a resolved issue in a single interaction. The only fail-safe way to make sure the customer’s problem was addressed to their liking on the first attempt is to go ahead and ask whether that was the case or not. In order to determine the customer’s perception, most companies utilize customer satisfaction analyses with surveys:

Post-contact surveys

Post-contact customer satisfaction surveys are dispatched right after the interaction is completed. These types of surveys usually include a variation of the following questions:

  • Was your issue resolved?
  • How satisfied are you with the way your issue was handled?
  • Based on the service you received, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

The answers to these questions will provide you with statistical data to gauge customer sentiment towards their interaction with your contact centre. Moreover, sending the survey immediately after the interaction will help you get more accurate data since the customer will most likely better recall what took place.

Related: What questions to ask in a customer satisfaction survey

Follow-up surveys

Follow up surveys are sent a significant amount of time after the interaction occurred. Companies use these surveys to ensure that the issue has not reoccurred and, therefore, has been fully resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

CRM software

Customer relationship management systems usually have built-in reporting capabilities. When using CRM to measure FCR, customer care agents ask the customer whether the issue has been resolved and subsequently make a note of the answer in the CRM.

Related: The impact of Customer Relationship Management on your business

What is a good first contact resolution rate?

A 2017 North American contact center benchmarking study by the SQM group reports an average FCR of 72%. Additionally, according to the same study the world-class FCR standard is at about 80%. Generally speaking, your goal should be to increase first contact resolution because research indicates that a low FCR negatively affects overall business performance and customer experience. We’ll take a closer look at how the FCR impacts the well-being of your business in the following paragraphs.

Why is first contact resolution so important?

First contact resolution is more than just a contact centre KPI as it has a direct impact on the overall success of your business. Even though metrics such as the Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort Score are very popular amongst customer service experts, your ability to systematically improve FCR rates will lead to:

Reduced operational costs

FCR directly impacts the amount of repeat contact requests from customers. Improved FRC rates translate to operational efficiency and reduction of costs associated with customer support.

Improved customer satisfaction

Customers are looking for hustle-free solution to their problems and high FCR rates mean exactly that. Solving customer issues according to their standards and in a timely manner will increase customer satisfaction with your company.

Improved employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is something that many companies tend to overlook. Improved FCR rates however will give you a better understanding of employee performance, training needs, quality of service. All these can help you assess the level of employee satisfaction and reward behaviours that drive FCR.

Improved customer experience

The customer experience encompasses very single interaction between the customer and your brand. For many of your customers, their customer service experience represents a moment in time where they have a “personal” interaction with your brand. A qualitative interaction will positively impact their perception of their experience with your organization and lead to increased customer experience.

Customer loyalty, upsell, and cross sell

A customer satisfied with their experience when contacting support is far less likely to jump ship for a competitor and much more likely to remain a loyal customer in the future. A positive first contact experience will also increase your chances for upsell or cross sell and increase customer revenues.

How do I improve my FCR?

Now that we have established the importance of FCR for the success of your business it only makes sense to explore ways in which to improve first contact resolution rates. Here are some of the most useful methods to help you continuously improve it:

Capitalize on technology

Use technology as a tool to enable your agents to resolve issues quickly and effectively. Integrations between different systems – for example your CRM and customer support software – will present your agents with relevant customer information that can help the assess the issue and better address it.

Agent trainings

Empower your agents to be there for your customers utilizing trainings, reskilling, soft skill development etc. If you want to win the FCR battle, it is important to recognize the role of your staff in driving the customer experience.

Automation

Sometimes customer issues are extremely simple to solve. In fact, they might be so simple there is no need for an agent to get involved. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are great tools to help you with tacking simple issues and meet the customer’s service standards at the same time.

Self-service and content resources

These days, you have a variety of tools such as newsletters, instructional videos, blog posts, product guides, FAQs etc. that can help you deliver information that helps customers solve issues themselves. An investment in this area will significantly boost your FCR.

Customer profiles and customer journey

Take a closer look at your clientele to develop customer profiles and analyze the customer journey. It will be much easier to understand the needs of a customer that comes forth with a support request if you examine their profile and pinpoint at which stage of the customer journey they are.

Develop internal process that support FCR

While some customer problems are quite straight forward, others might demand much more effort to be solved. In those cases, the agent with whom the customer initiated the interaction might require support to successfully resolve the issue. It is up to you to develop an internal structure that expedites the process and is clear to everybody involved.

Empower your customer support team

Find out how Surveypal can help you improve your FCR