Guide

Your Guide to Understanding and Improving First Call Resolution

A Guide to First Call Resolution Blog Image
Table of Contents
    Table of Contents

      Tracking first call resolution (FCR) is essential for businesses that want to deliver exceptional customer service. Recent studies have found that U.S. businesses lose an estimated $62 billion per year because of poor customer service. When customers don’t feel like a company is listening to them or doing everything they can to solve a problem, they are likely to take their business elsewhere.

      This guide will cover everything you need to know about first call resolution, including what it is, why it matters, and how you can improve your metrics to keep your customers happy and your call center profitable.

      What is First Call Resolution?

      When it comes to contact centers, first call resolution is one of the most important KPIs to track. First call resolution, or FCR, refers to a call center’s ability to resolve a customer’s questions, concerns, complaints, or needs the first time they contact a company without needing to follow up with additional outreach. Businesses can measure FCR for calls, chats, emails, social media posts, and self-service options.

      While all companies and industries vary, a good rule of thumb is to aim for an FCR rate of at least 70 – 75 percent. And even if you are already in that range, you can still improve to exceed it and become a leader in your industry.

      Why Does First Call Resolution Matter?

      Delivering excellent customer service is the primary goal of any company’s contact center. Call center supervisors and managers track first call resolution so they can identify problems with their processes early.

      Here are some specific ways that tracking and improving FCR can make a noticeable impact on customer-facing businesses:

      Gauge Customer Satisfaction

      One of the main reasons you should be tracking FCR in your contact center is to gauge your customers’ satisfaction level. Generally, a higher FCR rate equates to a higher customer satisfaction rate. Customers who need to follow up tend to be more unhappy than customers who can solve their issue with just one call.

      When customers are satisfied with their experience engaging with your contact center, they are more likely to return for repeat business instead of turning to a competitor. That can add up to a lot of additional revenue over the lifetime of your customer relationship.

      Turn an Unhappy Customer into a Loyal Customer

      Customers tend to call a contact center when they are unhappy with the product or service that a business delivered. It’s up to the call center to react to the customer in positive and engaging ways to keep the customer’s business.

      Call center interactions are vital for a few reasons. First, you want to keep your customers happy by doing everything reasonable to solve their problems. But the impact of customer loyalty runs even deeper than that. On average, an unhappy customer will tell up to 15 people about a negative interaction or experience they had with a company.

      If you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a repeat customer, you can manage your reputation and become known for your excellent customer service.

      Measure Your Agent’s Effectiveness

      Your call center agents are on the front lines when it comes to interacting with unhappy customers. Tracking your call center’s FCR rate can help you measure how successful your agents are in solving your customers’ problems. If your customers need to keep calling back to resolve their issues, you know that your agents are not performing to the best of your company’s abilities.

      By increasing your first call resolution rate, you will reduce

      the amount of time your agents spend talking on the phone with customers who are calling back a second or third time to attempt to resolve their problem. In addition to increasing your agents’ efficiency, this will also lead to shorter wait times for your customers, enhancing their overall experience when they contact your center for the first time.

        How do You Measure First Call Resolution?

        A study from The Ascent Group found that companies who went from not tracking FCR to tracking it had an increased rate of up to 30 percent in just one year. So if you don’t already measure your first call resolution rate, then get ready to see an explosion in growth!

        To measure your FCR rate, you will need to have a way to track whether a call successfully resolved a customer issue. Contact center software like Dialpad can help you automatically calculate this rate.

        The basic equation for measuring first call resolution is to divide the total number of calls resolved on the first attempt by the total number of first calls in a given period.


        Total Number of Calls Resolved on First Attempt
        ________________________________________________
        Total Number of Calls

        Using this formula, you can measure FCR for different periods, such as monthly, quarterly, and annually, to identify patterns and make adjustments.

        Another, more holistic, way to gauge FCR is through customer surveys. Software such as Dialpad can automatically request customers to take a short survey following their call. Customers can use their own words to discuss how they feel about the interaction and whether or not they believe their problem was resolved on their first attempt.

        Many call centers pair FCR metrics with talk time, which measures the average length of time a representative spends on a customer call. Most call centers want to see high FCR rates paired with low talk times to maximize their call center's efficiency and profitability.

        How to Improve First Call Resolution

        No matter what your current FCR is, there’s a good chance you can improve it by taking some thoughtful steps to engage your customers and optimize your internal processes.

        Create and Publish Documentation for Common Issues


        Every company has a core set of common challenges its customers face. Instead of having your agents repeat the same information repeatedly, create a knowledge base or online FAQ section that customers can easily find. Customers will often try to find the answer to their questions online first. By resolving their issues before they even pick up the phone, your customers will be satisfied, and your agents will be freed up to solve more complicated challenges that cannot be answered so readily.

        The knowledge base can also be helpful when customers call with common questions. As long as your agents all have easy access to it, they will direct customers to the specific solution to their problem quickly and efficiently, which can reduce customer wait time and create consistent communication across your company to eliminate confusion.

        Segment Your Calls Based on Common Issues

        Once you have identified the common issues facing your customers, you can segment your calls based on whether they can be solved during the first call. By having dedicated personnel working on incoming calls that will likely need more than one call to resolve, you can continue to deliver excellent customer service, even for more complex or challenging issues

        Focus on Response Time

        Speed is everything when it comes to solving customer complaints and concerns. Seventy-three percent of customers say time is critical when determining whether the customer service they received is good or bad. Responding to inquiries quickly and swiftly improves customer experience.

        Practice Good Communication with Customers

        Miscommunication is a leading cause of wasted time in call centers and can quickly lead to increased customer frustration.

        Instead of jumping in to solve a problem without hearing the full story, train your agents to approach each call with active listening, which means that they should ask questions to clarify the issue and repeat information back to the customer to understand the problem correctly.

        The main points to identify are the customer’s goal and the obstacle preventing them from achieving it. Spending a little extra time clarifying a customer’s purpose and the challenges standing in their way can save a lot of time down the road and lead to increased customer retention.

        Additionally, train your agents to provide clear instructions on the next steps the customer should take, such as sending an email with instructions, directing the customer to a knowledge base, or clearly articulating the steps involved. In some cases, a video call or screen share could be the best way to show the customer how to solve their problem.

        Route Calls Methodically

        Every time you transfer a caller to another department, you risk dropping the connection or having the customer leave the call. However, it makes sense to route calls from the contact center to various departments within the organization in many companies.

        There should be an efficient process in place to route calls, especially for large companies that provide a lot of different types of products and services. The larger your business, the more varied your customers and their inquiries will be.



        If your organization regularly fields calls for multiple departments, consider implementing call routing based on criteria such as language, customer type, and inquiry type. This process will minimize the amount of time a customer is on hold and help customers connect with the right person who knows how to solve their problem.

        You will need to develop a process that ensures someone will pick up on the other end. Using Dialpad’s three-way call feature could be a simple solution because it lets you put a caller on hold and transfer them without losing connection.

        Ask if You Solved the Problem Before Leaving the Call

        Asking the customer if you have solved the problem is an easy yet often overlooked way to improve your FCR. Asking customers this question gives callers a chance to ask follow-up questions or clarify anything that is muddled. Taking a little extra time at the end of a call can save your center and customers a lot of time down the road.

        Set Goals and Expectations for Agents and Customers

        After you have been tracking using call center software for some time, you will have a much better idea of how long the resolutions usually take so your agents can set realistic expectations with customers. For example, if one type of solution tends to take a week to resolve, you don’t want agents telling customers their problem will be resolved in 24 hours.

        With accurate tracking, you will also have a clearer understanding of your first call resolution rate to set reasonable goals for your agents. Incentive programs can motivate agents to push harder to resolve issues on the first call.

        Track Across All Channels

        Make sure to track calls as well as chat, email, social media, and other forms of communication to calculate your overall FCR. It can be useful to break down your FCR by channel to see where you can make improvements.

        For example, you may have a 75 percent FCR rate by call but only a 50 percent FCR by chat. These numbers can show you where you should be spending your time and effort creating new processes and training team members for maximum results.

        Conclusion

        A center with a high FCR volume will encourage repeat business from customers whose needs are met the first time they make contact. If a customer has to make multiple calls or send several emails to resolve an issue, they will become disillusioned and are less likely to return once their problem has been resolved.

        Knowing your first call resolution rate is essential for measuring customer satisfaction and ensuring that your agents are all well-trained and equipped to solve customer challenges. Investing in software with data tracking and reporting features can help you improve your call center’s efficiency and customer service level so that more customers can have their issues resolved the first time around.