Modern Customer Support has undergone a massive transformation in the last decade. Today, your customers want immediate support. And, having a high first call resolution rate is your key to providing just that.
Modern consumers require your brand to be omnipresent. Every company, whether big or small, aims to provide 24/7 support to its customers. This not only leads to a better customer experience but also improves your CRM. Therefore, you must specifically focus on ways to reach your customers fast. More importantly, your determination to resolve every query in the first call itself is what improves your position among your competitors.
But, how is fast servicing directly proportional to your brand’s success? And, how can a higher first call resolution help you?
Worry not! This article aims to answer all these questions.
In this blog, we aim to provide you with the ultimate guide to first-call resolution. Before we begin, let’s have a look at what will be discussed in this blog.
We will begin by providing an in-depth definition and meaning of the first-call resolution. This will help you easily understand its importance and benefits, which will be successive sections in the blog. Lastly, we will list out the top 10 ways that can help you gain a higher FCR.
What is First Call Resolution (FCR)?
Here’s the industrial definition of First call resolution.
“FCR is an important performance metric that measures a brand’s ability to resolve customer problems, questions or even needs in the very first call placed. It helps you understand how many queries have been resolved without any follow-up calls.”
Simply put, it helps you understand how efficiently your customer support can solve a query right away.
To provide a historic view of it, we recommend you understand first call resolution as “the metric for the digital experience era”.
Back then telephones or calls were the only sources to reach out to your customers. Owing to this lack of interaction channels, the metric was first exclusively attributed to contact centers.
However, it has grown in its usage since then. With a more evolved and comprehensive understanding, now it accounts for the behavioral shift of the digitally-empowered customer. The access to various digital touchpoints has enabled the modern customer to reach out to brands through multiple channels, i.e. social media, email, website portals, or live chats.
Therefore, the standard definition of the first call resolution rate which specifically focused on queries resolved via the first call is not enough!
Today we require a metric that you can use to monitor customer service. Something that you can use to measure a company’s ability to handle and resolve customer calls, emails, and various other support requests across different touchpoints.
Here comes first contact resolution in the picture.
What is First Contact Resolution Rate?
First contact resolution rate stands for the percentage of customer support requests that get resolved right in the first contact made by the customer.
It takes into account all the queries resolved via live chat sessions or messaging channels or even successful interactions on a Twitter thread.
At this point, you might be wondering if both first contact and first call resolution are the same. Or at least similar? We think the best way to see these two terms is as two different sides of the same coin. If the coin represents the marketing world, the first call denotes the pre-digital boost era of customer service metric whereas, the first contact denotes the modern era.
Although similar, there exists one major difference between first contact resolution rate and first call resolution rate. While the latter is a bit constricted, the former offers a wider perspective.
First Contact resolution rate refers to the queries resolved in the first interaction irrespective of the medium used by the customer to reach you. Unlike first call resolution rate, it is not limited to queries resolved via calls only.
You can use the below mentioned formula to calculate your FCR:
However, it is important to remember that industries today use both the terms interchangeably to refer to the same thing – the queries resolved in one go.
At the beginning of the article, we told you we’ll be coming up with ways for you to improve your FCR. This must have given you the idea that higher FCR brings positive outcomes. But, is there something called a negative FCR? Or even a standard FCR?🤔
Let’s see if any criteria decide the “goodness” of first call resolution.
Is There an Industry Standard for First Call Resolution?
It is quite challenging to provide a definite answer to this question.
FCR rates differ across businesses and support teams. It depends on various factors such as the number of customers, your company’s budget allocated towards customer service training, and the complexity of your product.
But there does exist a numerical value to it. Studies claim that the industry standard first call resolution rate is (approximately) 74%. But, this of course varies based on the criteria mentioned above.
For example, say your brand’s product owns a simple product that doesn’t require much technical knowledge for either the customer or support agent. In situations like this, it is rather easy for your FCR to be higher.
Generally, an FCR rate close to 90% is considered high, while 40% and below is considered low.
Assume a scenario where your company owns a complex product. This product requires technical understanding. It is quite likely that issues raised by your customer might not be solved in the first call. Moreover, if the budget allocated for employee training is low, it is obvious for the FCR rate to go further below.
In situations like this, it is important to focus on improving your FCR rate regularly.
Therefore, we recommend striving for a good FCR rate instead of a high FCR.
But, what is a good FCR?
What is a “Good” FCR?
Contrary to popular belief that everything above the set standard FCR (74%) is good, one must remember that the metric is relative.
FCR rates can not be compared with rates of other businesses and organizations whose processes, teams, and technology are different from each other. As mentioned above, FCR rates are directly affected by various factors.
Therefore, we advise having a self-service strategy in place to help your customers find their own solutions.
This acts as a preliminary filter that makes trickier requests that do require an agent input to be solved to stand out. This self-service strategy may involve FAQs, live chatbots, etc.
Having a self-service strategy lowers the FCR rate as compared to competitors with no self-service at all.
Another factor that decides the variability factor of FCR rates is different sectors. Different companies might measure FCR in different ways that are more effective for their specific business.
To sum it up, there is no one right answer that you can adopt to improve your FCR.
So far we have covered almost all aspects, definitions, and questions that are generally vital to understanding first call resolution. As of now, you would have understood how and why first call resolution and first contact resolution are the same, yet different. You also would have understood what are the factors that affect the FCR rate.
Let us move to the next section of this blog.
Importance of First Call Resolution (FCR)
FCR is also important because:
It helps you retain customers: It is no secret that customers look for options when they face poor customer service. Solving customer queries at the first call can be the much-needed difference that can alter their decision to end the relationship.
It helps satisfy customers: If you are on social media, you know that there’s nobody more vengeful than an unhappy customer. Online platforms are the spaces owned by the customers, for the customers. Having a good FCR ensures turning potential brand detractors into brand promoters.
It maximizes agent productivity: Solving more and more queries at the first call enables your support desk to deal with lesser repeat requests. This results in shorter wait times for remaining customers’ issues and more time for your agents to solve complex issues.
Keeping these three points in mind, we advise you to always root for a higher first-call resolution rate. The higher your FCR rate, the better your customer experience will be. And eventually, you will have higher customers’ lifetime value (CLTV).
Also, let’s not forget that FCR is a good indicator of your agents’ interest in work. A higher FCR tells you the health of your brand’s customer support desk. This directly impacts your bottom line by initiating improvement margins, reducing churns, and turning customers into evangelists.
By now, you must have understood that the next topic we are going to cover is benefits.
Benefits of Improving FCR
Once you understand the importance of a certain feature, it becomes easier for your brand to reap its benefits.
Therefore, it is only natural to elaborate on the importance of FCR by listing out the benefits you start working towards improving your FCR. Following are some of the most celebrated benefits of having a good/ higher FCR rate:
- Reduced Customer Churn: A higher FCR means customers experience low-effort resolutions. Once your customers feel their queries are being solved at first interaction it drives loyalty among them and decreases your customer churn.
- Improved sale: Customers are more inclined towards upselling and cross-selling when your agents can resolve their queries with first-call.
- Lower Operating Costs: Resolving (most) queries at first go means lesser follow-up calls. This reduces extensive back-and-forth between the customer and the agent, resulting in lower agent-intensive handling costs.
- Improved Support Team Structure: A higher FCR means constant analysis of your support desk. This means you can allocate the right resources for different issues.
Let’s have a quick recap before we move on to the most important section of this blog.
By now, we have understood that FCR is an important performance metric, especially if you strive to improve your customer service ad customer experience. Improving your FCR not only benefits your customers but also your agents. And, it is no wonder that having happy customers and agents is your key to the top in the competition. 📈
However, knowing its importance and benefits alone doesn’t achieve our primary requirement. How can one achieve a higher FCR or at least improve their FCR rate?
In the next section, we are going to talk about ways you can improve your first contact resolution rate.
How to Improve First Call Resolution Rate?
As mentioned earlier, many factors impact FCR. Do you remember those? Let us know in the comments below the one you feel has the highest impact on FCR.
Improving your score is not necessarily a simple procedure. You cannot possibly achieve it with customer service training sessions or better software implementation alone. It requires you to take specific steps and follow those consistently.
Before we move on to the 10 best steps that can help you improve your FCR let’s identify the common challenges faced during this process.
Challenges of Improving First Call Resolution
As we said earlier, the complexity of your product is one of the most important factors that impact your FCR rate. The technology you use to communicate this complexity further increases your chances of messing up FCR.
Therefore, out of the many challenges businesses face regarding FCR, Technology tops the list.
- Complex IVR menus
- Long Hold Times
- Inaccessible Information
- High Agent Turnover
- Lack of Agent Authority
While this list is longer than FCR benefits, there is no reason to be disheartened!
Thanks to the developing customer service technology, you have multiple ways to address these challenges. You can invest in improved software, speech analytics, and customer feedback.
Our personal favorite is to streamline the way your customer support team handles FCR data!
Now that you are aware of the major challenges faced while improving FCR, let’s move on to solutions.
10 Best Ways to Improve your First Call Resolution
Here are the 10 steps to ensure your FCR rate keeps improving.
1. Identify the Root Cause Behind Delayed Response
You must understand the root cause of the problem. This will help you identify common issues and inefficiencies. The information you gain while understanding the knowledge gap acts as a guideline for your strategy to improve FCR.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Why was the caller dissatisfied during the first call?
- Why was the call routed to the wrong department?
- Which platforms (e.g. phones, social media, email, etc) have the most unsatisfied customers?
Examine your data, analyze the customer feedback and ask your agents to know the answers to these questions.
Remember that this is not a one-time process. Consistency will continually improve your FCR and help your business grow.
2. Use Software with Excellent Routing Features
Customers want fast and easy service experiences.
Hence, you must ensure they don’t have to jump through various departments and calls to acquire sufficient support. Solving issues efficiently in the first call results in better FCR rates. But, for this, you must ensure that the customer reaches the first contact with the agent.
If the wait time is too long the customer might not wait!
A major problem that most of the customers face is the language barrier. If your customer is unable to communicate their concern, reaching the first contact is as null and void as not reaching!
Hence implementing software that provides intelligent routing features is crucial. Based on your customers’ requirements you can invest in any one of this software:
Skill-based routing, Omnichannel routing, AI digital routing, Voicemail routing, and Data-driven routing.
3. Have an Informative Knowledge Base
There’s no doubt that customers prefer live support. But, a well-thought service strategy enables your customer. It makes them feel empowered and accomplished.
Having an informative knowledge base is one way to do this. This will help your customers find solutions to their issues with minimal effort.
An informative knowledge base can include featured articles, video explanations, and/or tutorials. With these self-service options, you can also reduce the cost involved in extra workloads for agents, and maximize their productivity.
One of the best ways to enable your customers is by deploying chatbots on your website. Chatbots have the ability to offer instant responses and improve the FCR rate.
4. Analyze Customer Behavior
We firmly believe in the idea of the more the better!
The more you try to understand your customer’s needs, the better will be your data. Unearthing common reasons that make your customers reach out to support will ensure that your agents are prepared to meet their needs.
Having regular data further helps with better anticipation of your customer’s needs before they even occur. Analyze customer feedback and note down the frustrations they encounter while using your service/product.
The data provides insight into common concerns and helps your agents anticipate customer needs during the first call itself.
5. Follow-Up with Dissatisfied Customers
If your agents fail to solve the query in the first call, encourage them to reach back to unhappy customers and find out how things could have been better.
This does two things –
- It signals your customers that you listen to their frustrations
- It helps you get closer to first contact resolution when you face a similar situation next time.
Conducting this outreach will help you gain valuable insight into your FCR rate. It will also help you address dissatisfied customers directly and immediately.
6. Provide Effective Agent Training
The endpoint of your customers trying to reach your brand is the support agent.
Hence, it is always recommended to start by providing effective coaching for your customer support agents. Your agents must be well-informed about products/ services and trained in handling difficult queries and upset customers.
As a brand, you must hold frequent coaching sessions and ensure that your support staff is well-equipped with the required knowledge. This will prevent sharing of inaccurate information or escalation of calls.
Another good practice is to cross-train your employees across various areas. Having every agent coached on troubleshooting can prevent extreme cases from impacting your FCR negatively.
7. Empower Your Customer Support Team
Although we preach the idea of having well-trained support staff, we also recommend empowering your support staff.
You must ask yourself if your agent has the authority to take extreme measures in extreme situations. For example, can they offer discounts? Can they remove shipment charges?
To improve this, you need to review your customer service procedures often. This will avoid certain internal policies from hindering your agent’s ability to effectively resolve problems during the first call.
You can also review more complex processes and empower your staff with more authority to resolve support tickets without having to transfer the call.
While these were some of the steps that you can take on behalf of the company, here are some steps that your agents can take.
8. Stay Positive
We understand that it’s not easy to deal with an angry, dissatisfied, and upset customer. At times, it can be a bit disheartening as well. But it is important to keep you calm and stay collected. Try your best to resolve the customer’s issue in the first go. However, if matters seem escalating, provide the customers with guidelines for next steps, or reach out to a senior.
Here is an article that can help you with ways to deal with dissatisfied customers.
9. Understand the Customers’ Needs
The first step to dealing with a dissatisfied customer is to listen carefully. Understand what they need from you. Ask clarifying questions and always repeat the information back to the customer.
This enables your customer to feel in charge and ensures that the input gained by you is correct.
10. Give Clear Instructions
When supporting a customer, be clear with your choice of words. Once you have understood their requirement and need, it is essential on your part to provide them with clear guidance.
If they are struggling, stay on the line with them and walk them through specific processes to ensure the issue gets resolved. This not only omits the chances of a second or a follow-up call but also builds customer trust.
It is not easy to dig deeper and discover the failures in your process. However complex, it is a valuable exercise.
Every reach by your customer is a chance for you to enhance your CRM. With every satisfied customer, you don’t only retain your customer base. It also helps you gain a loyal evangelist who takes every chance to provide positive feedback for your company.
Hence, improving your FCR is of utmost importance to increase your brand’s value.
It’s time to understand and value the importance of FCR. If your brand strives to improve its customer experience, CSAT score, and CLTV prioritize first call resolution rate.
That said, Cheers!