Tips To Drive First Call Resolution


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There are a great number of approaches to refining customer interactions and customer experiences but not all of them positively affect the bottom line the way FCR does. For those unfamiliar, first-call resolution (FCR) is an extremely important contact center metric and key element of customer relationship management. The term is self-explanatory: a contact center’s ability to resolve customer issues, questions or needs the first time they call, with no follow-up required. We used to call this “one-&-done” back in the day.

FCR not only helps gauge customer satisfaction, when executed properly it drives customer loyalty. It measures an agents’ efficiency and, ultimately, acts as an important factor in contact center profitability.

More often than not, FCR metrics are monitored and partnered with AHT (the average time spent on a customer call). High FCR rates, paired with low talk time, is a common goal for contact centers.

The first big question is, how can you improve your FCR (First Call Resolution)?

Research from shows that 60% of companies that measure FCR for one or more years report a 1-30% improvement in their performance. Keep in mind that’s even touching on improvements to the CX (customer experience).
The key to improving first-call resolution is diligence. You must evaluate the current FCR rate, create realistic achievable goals, and then put an action plan into place. After you launch the plan, it’s imperative to be attentive, track overall performance, and evaluate your metrics.

Steps for FCR
 Create your benchmarks
 Create your FCR training points
 Train your teams (start with leadership)
 Launch reporting and engage coaching cadences
 Conduct channel comparisons
 Incentivize great performance
 Set your RCEs (realistic customer expectations)

So what is an example of improving FCR?

One example is the implementation of Speech analytics. These can have a great impact on FCR. For example, a recent speech analytics benchmark study tracked two groups of contact centers: the “leaders,” which represented 30% of the sampled group, and the “followers,” which were defined as the bottom 70%.

Not surprisingly, the Leaders using speech analytics averaged a 76% first-call resolution rate; comparatively, the Followers had a 23% average FCR.

So, what exactly is it about speech analytics that helps to improve FCR rates for so many brands? Simply put, FCR can be a tough metric to track: How do you determine whether an issue is fully resolved during the first contact? Enter speech analytics! These capture real conversation, integrate speech with caller identifiers, and in that way correlate repeat calls with specific agents, products, or issues. By identifying the causes behind repeat contacts, you can take massive action to resolve these issues that affect FCR and really the entire customer experience.

What are the benefits to improving your FCR?

The core benefit to tracking your FCR is the ability to identify the real issues that lower FCR rates, and then resolve them. Lowering of the issues means a better FCR rate and, at the end of the day, improved FCR means a much happier customer pool.

Another byproduct of increased customer satisfaction by improving contact center FCR can be directly tied to improved overall agent performance, and therefore increased efficiency and profitability. The chain of events is truly a win-win-win.

What are the challenges in improving your FCR?

As with most contact center metrics, the challenges of improving FCR reside in the how? How can you identify room for improvement and how can you improve FCR?

Again, this is where technology comes into play. Long gone are the days when agents themselves input resolution statuses after a call. Today, through the use of speech analytics, customer feedback, and other leading edge tech, you can streamline how your contact center collects, understands, and responds to raw data regarding your FCR. Then, you can circle back and update your aforementioned plan.

Are there any tips for improving your FCR?

Of course and we love sharing our experience. At Leading Edge we embrace our successes and failures. We choose to share our findings with others to help build stronger awareness for others in business.

While following the best practices for first-call resolution, you’ll find that the metric may still be improved. Even if your agents are performing well, bettering FCR can help your team reach new mountain tops in customer satisfaction.

Here is our list of tips for improving your FCR.

1. Find common issues that delay or prevent resolution
There are issues which may not reach a resolution on the first call. For instance, an outage for a internet company. If a customer calls with an unexplained outage, it may likely take a few calls to get a technician scheduled. That said, many issues can be alleviated once identified as common.
To use the same example, an internet provider can employ a call-back system to alert customers once issues have been resolved — reducing the number of customers who would need a second call.

2. Use segmentation to filter common issues
Once you’ve identified issues, it’s a good idea to segment calls that may require more than one call to reach resolution. Having dedicated processes and team members to handle these issues, may reduce the number of calls while improving your overall customer satisfaction for these tougher issues. Some brands choose to implement escalation teams for this very reason.

3. Measure FCR overall performance
We’ve mentioned measurement multiple times in this article, because you can’t objectively improve what you aren’t tracking. While FCR is somewhat difficult, using software and regularly reviewing the metrics works wonders in making adjustments and winning the game.
Use your data to set goals for FCR improvements, improve your overall training, discover issues in the overall process and celebrate success. Don’t forget to look for wins too. It’s far more enjoyable to expand winning than minimize loss.

4. Eliminate items off the customer’s plate
It’s always a great idea to decrease the number of steps it takes for customers to resolve an issue. While some steps are often necessary like call routing, extra steps should only be included when it reduces overall call time. Always keep the customer journey in mind. Build it from their perspective first. Offering a call back when service is restored or when an appointment is booked is a fitting example of reducing customer workload.

5. Avoid transfers as much as possible
Everyone hates being transferred. It doesn’t matter what industry. Moving from one agent or department to another, even in the most well-run call centers, will cause issues and lower CX. Think of it this way, every switch of the phone line potentially risks decreased customer satisfaction and worse FCR stats.

Since first call resolution (FCR) helps companies measure customer satisfaction, it is an essential element in nurturing lifelong relationships with buyers. Customers understand that mistakes happen, so they are able to forgive when a problem is fixed swiftly and adequately. In fact, companies have a unique opportunity to gain a deeper buy-in from customers during the resolution process when they go above and beyond to make the situation right.

Eric Sims
Eric is a Contact Center Outsourcing expert who specializes in helping businesses help their customers. He is the Cofounder & CEO of Leading Edge Connections, LLC, America's #1 fully remote outsourced contact center. He is also the host of Preventing Brand$laughter. A weekly podcast that helps business gain the insights and information to protect their brand from self-inflicted sabotage.


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