Bolster Your First-Caller Resolution Metrics by Linking Agents to Customers


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Contact center leaders are deluged with different CRM solutions that promise to reduce costs, heighten customer satisfaction and loyalty, improve productivity and do more with less. What to focus on with respect to the center’s performance is often based on benchmark data attempting to show that the contact center is in line (or not in line) with others.

There are several ways to benchmark the performance of your contact center, but when all is said and done, it is the customer who has the final say. One way to ensure that these relationship management strategies are effective for the bottom line is to have a strong voice of the customer experience measurement program in place.

The goal of your centers is to provide first contact resolution. This is one of the most important metrics to business leaders and, yet, also the most illusive and miscalculated metric in a contact center. Contact center operators have employed various types of technology and manual solutions to help calculate their FCR rate. While some of the data internally is useful, the reality is that none should or could answer the question on behalf of the customer. The customer is the one experiencing the possible pain from your service strategy and is your single best source to determine this metric. The customer’s perception that the problem has not been resolved is a main driver of cost in terms of repeat calls, and it has a significant implication to customer satisfaction. On dissatisfaction, actually.

Beyond measuring the components of the FCR metric, you must define accountability. Who owns this important metric? Linking caller evaluations to specific agents has a profound impact on FCR rates and allows you to focus your training and coaching to the agents that need it most. Additionally, it is possible to identify root causes that are strategic or systemic in nature to ultimately identify corrective action.

Higher ROI

You have to get beyond the assumption that FCR is a center-level metric. When you review it at the agent level, you can gear your quality assurance toward providing the right training and coaching at the right time, to the right agents, which will not only add up to a higher ROI for your voice of the customer program but also mean a higher ROI on the training and coaching efforts. Increased FCR percentages yield higher contact satisfaction scores and contribute directly to customer loyalty.

At Customer Relationship Metrics, we proved it in a research project involving two new clients. We selected the two centers because they were easily comparable to one another. Each center averaged about 30,000 calls per month. Each had roughly the same number of agents answering calls.

Call Center A began a real-time external quality monitoring program (EQM) to collect feedback in an immediate post-call customer survey. At the same time, we conducted a survey calibration process to correct response errors. Call Center A collected customer feedback using the service of our Completely Automated Telephone survey (CATs®) system. CATs® is an advanced-IVR platform that is specifically designed to conduct research. The surveys include both quantitative numeric scores and qualitative (customer comments) data.

Because management at Call Center B thought it would be more cost effective, they used their own IVR phone system to field a survey script we designed. One of the limitations, though, was that Call Center B could collect only center-level data and numeric ratings. Call Center B sent us the data each month, and we returned the analysis and reporting.

In the end, Call Center A collected results that were directly linked to the agent that handled the customer’s call and gathered comments directly from customers, showing the explanations for the numeric scores. Call Center B collected results that were not directly linked to the specific agent who handled a given call, so the company could not collect or report customers’ verbal comments.

This difference between A and B gave us the opportunity to compare the two systems.


We examined the caller evaluations and measured first contact resolution rates over a continuous six-month period. Call Center A began the study with an FCR rate of 36.4 percent. Call Center B began with a rate of 49.3 percent. We established this baseline as part of the reporting process after the first month’s data was collected. As the study progressed and we collected agent-level feedback for “Call Center A,” the results for the metric were dramatic.

Call Center A increased its FCR rate by 10.4 percent, while Call Center B experienced a 2.9 percent decline in its rate.

We analyzed the results and found that, based on the 30,000-calls-per-month average, and a conservative estimate of $5 per call, if Call Center A continues at this pace, it will have 3,120 fewer repeat calls per month for an annual savings of $187,200. Call Center B will have to handle an additional 870 calls per month for an additional expense of $52,200 per year.

You can see in Figure 1 that there was a substantial net improvement in FCR rates for Call Center A, while B showed a net decline. The main distinction was Call Center A’s ability to identify the key drivers of customer (dis)satisfaction. The key-driver analysis and explanations tied to individual customers, the company could tailor training and coaching. But lacking agent-level feedback and accompanying accountability, Call Center B could not provide focused training and coaching and the attendant benefits.

So A not only experienced reduced operating expenses from the decline in repeat calls but also saw a higher ROI for training and coaching. B can’t realize a similar return on training and, at the same time, is struggling with extracting the data to for timely processing of its customer feedback.

Connecting real-time caller feedback directly to the agent involved has far-reaching benefits. Our research on EQM shows that agent-level customer feedback can:

  • Increase first contact resolution
  • Reduce operating expenses
  • Reduce headcount
  • Increase productivity
  • Increase caller satisfaction
  • Lower the cost per call
  • Increase the ROI on training and coaching efforts
  • Generate a high-program ROI, realizing a one-month payback

Although our analysis focused on direct costs, the impact on loyalty and increased revenue is significantly higher. It is all about having the right information at the right time and knowing the right thing to do with it.

Jodie Monger
Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM) and a pioneer in business intelligence for the contact center industry. Dr. Jodie's work at CRM focuses on converting unstructured data into structured data for business action. Her research areas include customer experience, speech and operational analytics. Before founding CRM, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.


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