First call resolution (FCR) is resolving customer needs in a single response or interaction. This vitally important call center metric is much more than just another KPI, it can be an important key to your company’s success. Research by Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group has shown that for every 1% increase in FCR, a company sees:
- 1% increase in customer satisfaction
- 1% decrease in customer support operating costs
- 1% to 5% increase in employee satisfaction
How to Improve Your First Call Resolution
Many factors impact FCR, and it takes a comprehensive approach to improve it. The addition of digital communication channels has added complexity, and some companies include those in a measurement of first contact resolution. The following first call resolution strategies can be implemented across more than one channel to improve FCR.
Evaluate Current FCR
Measure your first call resolution rate.
There are several ways to measure your FCR. It can be as simple as tracking how many calls come in from the same number (in a set time period), or a more complex approach, like using speech analytics that tracks indicators.
Assess across multiple channels
To get an accurate FCR rate, measure across all contact channels. You need to know if you have a high FCR on phone calls, but a low FCR on chats, for example.
Uncover root causes
An analysis into why interactions were not resolved on first contact can uncover root causes that you can then address. Some specific issues to look at are:
- Why are callers not satisfied with interactions?
- What are the reasons calls are escalated to a supervisor?
- What are the common reasons calls are transferred?
Consider contributing factors
Often there are underlying factors that contribute to customer issues not being resolved the first time. These may include:
- Problems or issues with the products or services
- Poor training
- Issues with the IVR system
- Software or hardware problems
- Ineffective company policies or procedures
Look at customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is directly related to FCR, so look at the variables that go into your center’s CSAT rating to identify how they are impacting your agents’ ability to resolve issues on the first contact.
Set Your Strategy
Define what you will consistently measure
Determine what counts as an FCR, and what doesn’t. In order for FCR to be consistently measured over time, it must be clear. Then commit to continuous and more frequent measuring.
Focus on weak spots
Low FCRs can happen for a variety of reasons. Once you determine if the issue is a problem with agents, technology, positioning, or a combination, you can set specific strategies to address and improve those weak spots.
Avoid conflicting performance goals/KPIs
There’s nothing wrong with tracking both FCR and other things like Average Handle Time (AHT) per call, but you should be very clear on which metrics matter more. Conflicting goals can send mixed signals to your agents.
Develop a cross-channel update strategy
Call center management should always be current on products/services, price changes, marketing initiatives, and any other business shifts.
Streamline call routing to the right teams
Analyze contact behavior of different customer groups or improve your IVR system to get customers to the agents most likely to be able to resolve their issue from the start.
Invest in the right platforms
If you don’t have access to the data you need to make data-driven decisions that will drive FCR improvement, invest in platforms that can be useful to you and your agents.
Empower Your Support Agents/Reps
Make sure agents have a solid understanding of software, product information, communication skills, policies, and procedures. Cross-training agents to deal with a wide variety of issues gives your center more agents with the tools to offer excellent customer service.
Create a common knowledge base
Create or update a knowledge base to cover all products so agents have access. Then your reps can give customers the right information the first time.
Engage in Total Contact Ownership
Total Contact Ownership is when the agent who takes the initial call follows the issue from start to finish. These agents are less likely to pass the problem on to someone else, and more likely to recruit the resources they need to help solve the issue collaboratively.
In-depth product knowledge
Make sure all agents have in-depth knowledge of the products/services and are empowered to make their own decisions rather than being limited to scripted responses.
Increase employee motivation
Tie goals to improving your FCR rate, and involve employees in tracking their own performance and offering feedback. Recognition and rewards for hitting goals can also go a long way.
Keep the Customer in Mind
Improve communication with customers
Agents should be trained to communicate clearly with customers and take special care to make sure customers understand all the facets of their issue.
Aim for minimal customer effort
Anticipate the customer’s needs before they call in to reduce friction on the customer journey. For example, rather than waiting for a customer to ask for specific help, an agent could direct them to information that may answer future questions or needs. This leads to more satisfied customers and happier agents.
Look for future issues
Train agents to look beyond the current issue and anticipate future inquiries. Management can reach out to customers directly if a repeat call is likely.
Ask for customer feedback
Ultimately, customer satisfaction is the goal of FCR. So check with customers to see how you’re doing. Post-call customer surveys give customers the opportunity to provide honest feedback, and agents can also directly ask customers at the end of calls if their issue was resolved.