How often do you resolve customer queries on the first call?

Obviously, most customers want immediate solutions. They want an answer to their problem so they can get back to living their life.

So it makes sense to track how effectively your company resolves queries the first time around.

According to MetricNet, the industry standard for first-call resolution (FCR) is 74%. So roughly three-quarters of contacts are resolved on the first occasion, with no follow-up required.

If your company achieves an FCR score of less than 40%, you should investigate what is preventing more customers from getting fast support.

If you are hitting 90% or more, then your customer support agents are a high-performing team.

Issues behind your first call resolution performance

The FCR metric is not as simple as it first seems.

For example, there are many ways to calculate the score, and the percentage itself rarely tells the whole story.

A low FCR score might indicate an ill-equipped support team, or it might be caused by a highly effective online support site, meaning that only the trickiest queries reach the contact centre. This is actually a very positive thing for customers (and contact centre costs) but it can mean that far fewer queries can be resolved the first time around.

Your low score does not necessarily represent a failing.

How do you measure first call resolution?

Not all FCR metrics are equal.

Before you compare your score’s with others, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples.

There is no perfect FCR measure, but by understanding the differences in approaches you can settle on a measure that works for your team. The key thing is to stick with one approach. Or if you measure multiple scores, make sure you know when you’re cross-comparing stats.

Methods of calculating FCR:

From the agent’s perspective. The agent may believe that an issue was satisfactorily resolved. Even if this belief is genuine, and not simply an effort to improve their statistics, it can produce misleading results.

From the customer’s perspective. If you ask customers whether their query is resolved, their response may differ greatly from the agent’s perspective.

Let’s imagine the customer has a technical problem. The agent knows how to fix the problem, and gives the customer the solution. From the agent’s perspective, the problem is resolved, but the customer doesn’t think the issue is resolved until they’ve applied the solution and seen the result. If you ask the customer for post-call feedback, they may regard the issue as still unresolved.

It’s easy to see how scores will diverge.

From system data. Your contact centre software may seem like an impartial judge of your FCR performance. But you will still have to choose parameters to decide how you measure this score. Firstly, how will you judge what constitutes a second contact? If a customer calls back the following day, this might seem an obvious sign that their issue was not resolved. But what if they are calling about a new issue? And what if a customer calls back two weeks – or two months – later? Will a billing query three weeks after a support request be considered a failure of FCR?

These are all decisions that must be made when you are building your FCR measurement operation.

By channel. If chat outperforms voice, do you really want to blend everything together? Or do you want to report FCR metrics by channel?

By contact type. This is another way to gain a clearer picture of your performance. Rather than grouping all contacts together, this involves separating contacts by type, such as billing, product and technical. This will help you identify the most challenging contact types so you can devote resources to improving performance.

How do you improve first call resolution?

Having established a routine for reporting FCR, it’s natural to begin investigating how to improve your performance.

Multi-channel

Adding more contact channels gives customers the flexibility to choose the method that is most likely to succeed. And that usually means a better FCR score.

Peer review

Do your agents review each other’s calls? Peer-reviewing call logs is a simple way to identify possible improvements and achieve greater consistency between agents.

Call monitoring

How many agent calls to you monitor per month? While the industry standard is 1 or 2 per month, many organisations fail to review contacts – and therefore fail to identify challenges and improve performance over time. If your FCR score is weak, then you should re-commit to a programme of monitoring.

Skill-based call routing

Rather than simply distributing calls to the first available agent, routing calls according to skills, knowledge and experience can boost your FCR rates.

Cheat sheets to synchronise approaches

While most contact centres believe that their agents follow a house style, the reality is that agents diverge over time. Different agents develop different approaches to resolving different issues. Some approaches are efficient and effective, while others are frustrating for customers and less effective at resolving issues.

By creating cheat sheets based on the most effective approaches to dealing with common issues, you can ensure everyone is working in the best way, and resolving more queries the first time around.

Identify knowledge gaps

Are there common queries that trip up your agents? Look for patterns in call logs, and speak to agents about the queries that they can’t resolve on first contact.

Does your organisation need support to improve first call resolutions? Our consultants understand the unique challenges facing contact centres today, and we can help you implement solutions to make you more cost effective and more efficient at dealing with a wide range of support requests.

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