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Understanding First Call Resolution and the Keys to Improvement

TechSee’s complete guide to increasing first call resolution, and why it’s important.

First call resolution (FCR) is a vital call center KPI. In this guide we explain what FCR is and why it is such an important KPI to track. We then present tips for customer service agents and call center staff for improving and increasing first call resolution rate.

What is First Call Resolution?

First call resolution (FCR) means that a customer’s support call is handled all the way through to resolution to the customer’s satisfaction in their first interaction with customer service. While not all calls can be resolved this way, most should be. To help you achieve that we’ve put together some powerful first call resolution tips for agents and call center leaders.

Why is First Call Resolution Your Most Important KPI?

There are several reasons why your first call resolution rate is your most important KPI to focus on.

  1. It’s the only KPI that directly addresses the goal of your support center – problem resolution.
  2. It is the KPI that is most aligned with your customer satisfaction
  3. It doesn’t neglect operational efficiency (i.e. cost).

Studies show that up to 12% of your customers will leave if their issues are NOT solved on the first call. If that seems like a harsh stick, here’s a carrot: For every 1% increase in FCR, your customer satisfaction grows by 1%. And every 1% increase in customer satisfaction translates into slightly over 1% increase in shareholder value (Marketing Science report)

Bottom line: It’s the KPI that most holistically reflects the true shape of your complete business, not just your call center and agents but your product and your customer sentiment – also known simply as your entire brand.

If your first call resolution rate is averaging below industry standards, there is something flawed somewhere along your customer experience. It’s in your best interests to identify the weak link and do all you can to fix it.

To help you do that, let’s look deeper into what affects your first call resolution rate both inside and outside of your contact center.

Increasing First Call Resolution Inside The Call Center

Generally speaking, If you have quality, knowledgeable and motivated agents combined with the right technology, you should achieve a good first call resolution.

Quality Call Center Agents 

Hire people who will have the capacity to handle your type of customers and problems. This means both in regards to their knowledge and their interpersonal skills. There is no point in staffing your call center with tech wizards who know your product inside out, but have no patience for “clueless” end-users.

Knowledgeable Call Center Agents

On the other hand, having the bedside manner of Florence Nightingale isn’t going to help without the actual skills required to solve your customer’s problem. Make sure that your support staff are properly trained and are expert enough to guide and coach your customers to resolution at their tier.

Motivated Call Center Agents

Working at a support center can be a grinding job. In the long term, wearing your agents to the ground is bad for your business, and if you follow the previous two steps you’ll find it hard to keep replacing them without sacrificing performance.

Keeping your agents motivated is about two things:

  • Reward them for success – The common way to measure call center success is Average Handle Time (AHT). However, always keep in mind that whatever you set as the metric for success will be what your agents aim for. Therefore you must define success in a way that serves the true purpose of your call center: solving your customers’ problems and keeping them satisfied with your brand.
  • Keep them fresh – This is a true challenge but it’s important. Be attentive to your agents’ needs. Make sure to create a positive environment for them and allow for proper rest times and mental support when necessary. There are technological platforms and even systems that help gamify a call center and make it a more fun place to work!

Using Technology as a Way to Deliver Customer Support

Innovative technology is starting to become a key player within the customer support field. Gaining visibility into the customer’s environment and applying big data analytics to optimize service are just a couple of the technological call center solutions that are changing the way support is delivered in contact centers. To stay at the top of the game, your contact center must keep up with technological developments.

The keys to getting the most out of contact center technologies are:

  • Oversee and Follow Technology: Someone in your organization should be appointed to keep up to date on customer service innovation, so that they can make the right technology choices that will work most effectively for your contact center.
  • Integration Support for New Technology: Have an implementation method in place to support agents in the process of adopting new technology.Ensuring they are fully confident in using new technology gives you the best results and benefits.
  • Monitoring and optimizing: Regularly review how your technology is performing and adjust as needed. Improving your contact center performance is a never-ending task.

Increasing First Call Resolution Outside The Call Center

If everything works perfectly in your customer service processes and your first call resolution rate is still low, there are two possible causes you should look into: the customer and the product.

The customer

How the customer enters the conversation is critical to the success of the interaction. If the conversation starts on a confrontational tone and the agent is unable to gain the customer’s confidence, their chances of a first call resolution drop significantly.

Customers’ frustration and low confidence levels are due to friction throughout their experience.

To minimize customer frustration and ensure the conversation begins with the right attitude, you have to look at the customer’s path up to the call and explore how to eliminate unnecessary friction.

Examples of friction to avoid to increase first call resolution:

  • Long hold times
  • Difficulty in reaching the right support department
  • Confusing IVRs (Interactive Voice Response)
  • Bad self-service experience
  • Bad service reputation

If a customer’s goal is to have a technician sent to them as fast as they can, your chances of resolution over the phone are dramatically diminished. If an agent is under a vicious attack by a raging customer and is under-equipped to handle it, his goal will become to end the call as fast as he can.

To achieve resolution you need both the customer and the agent to be motivated and believe that they can do it!

The product

The last concern that could be affecting your first call resolution rate is your product. If your product is sub-standard, no service in the world can help.

If your product itself is good but you still have a problem with first call resolution it may mean you have to look at your UX/UI.

If it’s confusing to the customer and difficult for the agent to explain, that will lower your first call resolution.

In this case the issue causing confusion needs to be identified and reported back to the product development team so that it can be rectified.

FCR: What, Why and How to Improve it?

First call resolution is a KPI that boils down all aspects of your organization into one single number. It corresponds directly with your customer satisfaction while enabling you to keep your finger on the pulse of your product, brand sentiment and customer support.

The first priority is to make sure your call center is running smoothly and effectively.

What does a smooth-running call center require?

  • Hire enough good agents.
  • Give them the right training.
  • Define ‘success’ clearly
  • Motivate them through reward to achieve this success
  • Create a pleasant, positive working environment
  • Provide them with effective, up-to-date technology.

All of your consumer-facing functions should be friendly and efficient. From self-service to calling in, the experience of connecting with your brand should inspire confidence and express respect for the customer’s time and needs.

Achieving a good first call resolution rate means your company is doing something right!

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