15 Best Practices for First Call Resolution [+Infographic]
Delight in customer experience has high standards.
Fast-paced consumers want brands to value their time and expect their needs to be met on time, no matter how they get in touch with the brand. Our recent research spanning different countries points to how 52% of consumers expect a quick resolution from companies.
First call resolution is a vital contact center metric that monitors such timely support and tracks the number of customer issues resolved within the first support call. This metric is a direct measure of the operational efficiency of a call center as well as a leading indicator of customer happiness.
|What is First Call Resolution (FCR)?
The number of customer requests resolved in the very first time a customer places a call to a contact center is known as first call resolution. The first call resolution rate is measured by dividing the number of requests resolved in the first call by the total number of calls handled by the contact center.
Navigate this blog easily with the following links –
- First contact resolution – A metric for the digital experience era
- Why is first contact resolution important in customer service?
- 15 First call resolution best practices to improve FCR rate
- Make it easy for your customers
- Make it easy for your agents
- Simplify your organization-wide customer support operations
Initially a strict contact center metric, first call resolution has now evolved to a more comprehensive metric taking into account the behavioral shifts in the digitally-empowered customer. No longer confined to the telephony system, consumers reach out to brands through multiple channels like social media, email, website portals, or live chat.
In the multi-channel digital era, standard definitions of first call resolution are no longer good enough.
So, what is first contact resolution or FCR? It’s the number of requests resolved after the first contact made by the customer in any of these channels used by an organization. This could mean resolution in one live chat session on any messaging channel, closing an issue within one mail from the customer, or just one customer interaction on a Twitter thread.
An associated percentage that companies now keep an eye on along with other customer service metrics is the first contact resolution rate which tracks how consistently an organization maintains high FCRs.
What is First Contact Resolution rate?
First contact resolution rate is the percentage of customer support requests or tickets properly resolved after the first contact made by the customer.
You can measure the FCR rate using the following formula:
First contact resolution rate = Number of tickets resolved after the first contact made by the customer / Total number of tickets resolved in the same time period
In Freshdesk, FCR is calculated as tickets with zero customer interaction – leaving out the first description of the query, irrespective of the number of agent responses. While calculating first contact resolution, it’s essential to agree on the nuances of what is considered a repeat call or repeat interaction.
A good first contact resolution rate is not fixed for every company but varies according to your business’s industry, size, and nature. Note the first call resolution benchmark in your industry and aim to address 70% to 75% of your incoming queries in the first contact to keep customers happy.
The first contact resolution rate aligns closely with important customer experience drivers like customer happiness, brand loyalty, and other vital CX metrics like CSAT, NPS, or CES. How you interact with customers in their very first contact has a significant impact on customer behavior.
- Boosts customer satisfaction: First call resolution denotes a happy customer as every 1% increase in FCR sees a 1% rise in CSAT score1.
- Reduces customer churn: Low-effort resolutions drive loyalty and customer retention, with 61% of customers who’ve had their problems resolved with less effort choosing to stay with the company2.
- Improves your chances to sell: Customers are more open to cross-selling and upselling opportunities when you resolve their queries in one go.
- Cuts operating costs: When first contact resolution is achieved, it prevents a lot of back and forth between the customer and the agent, bringing down agent-intensive handling costs.
- Improves support team structuring: Analyzing this critical customer service metric by the types of problems that arrive at your helpdesk or the channel used to reach will help you better allocate the right resources for different issues.
Research by the SQM group – leaders in benchmarking and tracking call center FCR, have identified three main reasons for low FCR –
- 38% on mistakes on the agent side,
- 13% due to miscommunication by customers,
- and 49% because of the organizational practices.
So improving first contact resolution rates requires constant efforts to enhance the support experience for customers, agents, and the service operations as a whole.
As much as speaking the language of the customer is about empathizing and reflecting the tone of a customer, communicating in the customer’s first language is of greater importance. Research indicates that 79% of contact centers have customers who don’t speak the primary language the center serves, and 60% of those customers expect service in their native language3.
Understanding customers’ language preferences and routing the calls or tickets to the right agent groups in their very first interaction avoids unnecessary call transfers and brings you closer to achieving FCRs.
Though customers generally prefer live support, a well-thought self-service strategy will leave a customer feeling empowered and accomplished in finding the solution with minimal effort. 39% of consumers agree that they can resolve issues faster with self-service options compared to other support channels, as per our recent research4.
Identifying common issues, visualizing the resolution steps, and crafting the correct workflows on Interactive Voice Response(IVR) systems and AI-powered chatbots make a self-service implementation highly effective.
Ask your customers how easy it was to get their issue resolved once their problem is fixed. There are many types of customer satisfaction surveys — CSAT, Customer Effort Score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS) — that measure different aspects of support and help you find if a customer was happy with the service offered.
Framing the right questions in the customer feedback survey will allow you to measure and also find if there were any roadblocks that a customer faced during the issue resolution process. A simple survey question like ‘Was your issue resolved in the first call with the agent?’ is an example of the external measurement of FCR.
Even if your agent didn’t get the answer right in the first call, encourage them to reach back to unhappy customers and find out what could have gone better. This signals that you listen to customers’ frustrations and helps you get closer to first contact resolution when you manage the same customer again or while your team faces customers in similar situations.
Frontline service representatives who handle calls and offer live support have a direct impact on making resolutions effortless for customers. It’s important to hire individuals with the right personality type to empathize, communicate, and solve customer requests efficiently. Gartner refers to such people as ‘controllers’ as described in the image below.
An effective talent strategy, complete with a structured interview process and well-crafted interview questions, helps you identify the appropriate people for your customer service team.
Domain and product knowledge prove invaluable for customer service agents to address customer needs confidently. When an anxious mother rings up to check if a particular pastry is gluten-free, a confused voice from the other end is not what she wants to hear.
Equipping agents with detailed information on the products and services you offer and sound knowledge of customers’ expectations enable them to understand customer issues clearly and shortens resolution times.
Customers would like to know they are valued and acknowledged in every interaction with your brand. Being sensitive to customer emotions and psychology helps you empathize with their situation and offer meaningful support. It’s then important to invest in agent training and upskill your call center agents on critical support etiquette and communication skills that’ll avoid irking or frustrating your customers on their resolution journey.
Here are a few first call resolution tips for agents to improve FCR rates –
- Prioritize responding quickly to customer calls and providing timely updates.
- Greeting a new customer, listening attentively to what they say, and closing interactions politely have a major impact on the overall customer journey. In fact, our recent research shows that 52% of customers stopped buying from a brand during the pandemic due to insensitive communication (17%) and high call center wait times (22%).
- Avoid long wait times with customers on hold as it flares up their frustration and negatively affects first call resolution.
- Take the liberty to transfer calls with context to subject matter experts who can close the issue better after notifying the customer.
In the fast-paced digital environment, customer issues pour in from different channels, which turn stressful for call center agents to resolve promptly. Automation in the call and ticket handling process eases the support activity and improves your agents’ productivity.
A few instances of workload automation include –
- Automated call routing – You can route incoming customer calls to appropriate agents through an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) or even let voice bots handle simple queries without agent intervention by configuring smart call flows in your contact centers.
- Include call-back options – Since customers don’t like to be on hold for a long time, you can add them to a virtual queue and give call-back options for stress-free resolution.
- Automate agent skill-based ticket assignment – Not all agents are equally capable of handling all customer requests. You can then group agents under different buckets and automatically route tickets according to their skillset for swift and quality resolution. You can also consider language proficiency, product or service feature expertise, channel competency, customer impact, and demographics while assigning the tickets.
- Collaborate on call – When agents need the assistance of an expert or coworker to close a customer’s issue, options like call-conferencing allow an agent to include a team member in real-time who can help resolve the query in the same call.
Instill a sense of ownership and responsibility amongst agents to take up a customer’s issue and drive it to closure right from the first contact. Recognize agents who collaborate with teams to provide a solution rather than simply pointing their fingers to a coworker and getting the issue off their hands, which further affects first call resolution.
Having a single view of all the queries that flow into your customer service department simplifies organizing and resolving agent tickets. Your team can then preview basic ticket information like priority, status, channel of contact, etc., and take the call on prioritizing and working on each of the requests.
Having all emails automatically converted into tickets with basic customer query information along with service history and interaction records led to a 25%-30% improvement in first contact resolution for GigaSpaces, an in-memory technology solutions provider.
Winning adds an element of thrill, excitement, and accomplishment to any activity – not just on Super Mario. Recognizing agents who consistently close tickets in their first contact with customers, underlines the significance of first contact resolution and motivates agents to strive for better FCR rates.
Freshdesk’s leaderboard identifies agents with high FCR rates with a ‘Sharpshooter’ trophy and gives the flexibility to calculate award points according to the industry and company.
If first contact resolution is a priority at your organization, make it a regular practice to track and instill FCR as a core KPI for support agents. Iron out the differences in how FCR is measured and settle on a comfortable method for both your agents and customers.
As suggested by the SQM group, you might have to look into details like –
- Whom the FCR is centered around – customer (measured with post-call survey responses) or agent (calculated from tickets handled)
- What is defined as a repeat call in your setup?
- Are there specific requests exempted from FCR measurement?
- What are the channels in which FCR is applicable, and what constitutes first contact resolution in each of these channels? E.g., Single chat session for live chat, agent response mail + thank you mail acknowledgment in email support, etc.,
Once the measuring mechanisms are set in place, carefully track the improvements and drops in FCR biweekly or monthly.
A detailed and well-compiled internal knowledge base helps agents find the information they need faster and speeds up the resolution process. Collect and store product guides, troubleshooting workflows, and answers to common queries in a centralized location to boost the productivity of your customer service representatives. An agent-facing knowledge base is also a great tool for onboarding new members to your support team.
Here are a few knowledge base best practices that you can follow to make the information more accessible for your agents –
- Structure and organize your knowledge base meticulously for ease of search.
- Update and refresh solution articles when you make feature changes, modify company policies, or encounter other common problems that need support documentation.
- Add video tutorials and screenshots to explain solutions better.
- Have a prominent search bar. Include tags and other meta information to serve the relevant results for your agents’ queries.
- Auto-suggest relevant solution articles for incoming tickets to cut down on an agent’s search time for solutions.
In Freshdesk, you can create solution articles and set the visibility to ‘Agents’ for building an internal knowledge base. Our agent-assist bot – Freddy, recommends suitable solution articles and canned responses for support tickets and saves time in the resolution journey.
Companies with a great CSAT score see a 17% increase5 in average resolution speed via chat over emails, which clearly indicates live chat as a customer’s preferred resolution channel. A Forrester study also reveals that moving to chat as a support channel reduces call volume by 15% and cuts back costs by 70% compared to an agent-intensive phone channel.
Dunzo – a popular 24/7 delivery platform based out of India, saw an 80% decrease in resolution times when they adopted messaging channels to handle real-time customer queries. With smart AI-powered bot solutions in live chat, they could also resolve 48% of the queries without human intervention, bringing down support operating costs.
Support made easy with AI-powered bot solutions in chat
When your team of support agents can view and access customer information across different channels — web support portal, email, social media, chat, phone — in one place, they have better context on customer needs. With all the insights in a unified application, agents can manage customer interactions better without jumping from one app to another, leading to faster resolution times.
Omnichannel support also gives a hassle-free experience to customers who might use multiple channels to resolve an issue yet don’t find the need to repeat themselves in every channel.
Freshdesk omnichannel support software
While first call resolution is important, don’t single it out as the only metric that measures the success of your support function. Ultimately, you want customers’ problems to be resolved entirely for them to be truly satisfied and happy with your brand.
Tracking FCR in proportion to other customer service metrics will help you deliver timely and exceptional support every single time.
Originally published on July 2, 2018. Updated on September 22, 2021.