Let’s face it: nobody likes calling customer service. The pre-recorded voices, the button pressing, and the wait times can all wear on  a customer’s patience.

When he or she finally does reach a human [or a bot], what customers want more than anything else is a quick and effective solution to their problem. If you want to keep them happy and loyal, it’s your job to deliver.

First Contact Resolution, or FCR, is a metric used to measure the percentage of customer complaints or inquiries that are resolved by customer service in a single interaction, whether by call, chat, or email.

If the issue is truly resolved, there should be no need for follow up. Every time a customer has to call back related to the same issue, their satisfaction with the service will likely drop.

Managers can calculate FCR with data from post-call or follow up surveys, or simply by having agents ask whether the issue was resolved at the end of the interaction.

Take a look at the following interactions: which customer would you rather be?


This side-by-side shows how a few extra seconds with a customer can turn two or three potential interactions into one. By the end of the interaction, Customer 2 has their problem completely solved while Customer 1 was pointed in the right direction, but was left more likely to call back because no resolution was reached. Statistics show that customer satisfaction drops an average of 15% for every additional contact a customer has to make related to the same issue.

Business Benefits of First Contact Resolution

Increasing FCR is one of the most reliable methods for increasing customer satisfaction. According to the Service Quality Measurement Group, there is a direct correlation between FCR and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). They found that for every 1% increase in FCR, there was an equal 1% increase in the company’s CSAT score – the score that represents the percentage of customers surveyed that respond favorably. With FCR, customer service managers have a satisfaction metric they can control through training and procedure that will directly impact satisfaction and loyalty. Without it, they are left guessing at how to improve the customer experience.

Not only does First Contact Resolution improve customer satisfaction, but it does so cost-effectively. In addition to an increased CSAT score, for every 1% increase in FCR, there is also a 1% decrease in operating costs.  By increasing first contact resolution, you reduce the volume of complaints, directly impacting operating costs and your bottom line.

For example, a call center of 100 reps fielding 50 calls per day, an FCR of 65% means that reps have to handle an additional 440,000 calls per year at cost of over $2 million.

First Contact Resolution Done Right

If you really want to take your customer service to the next level with First Contact Resolution, customers need a solution that is both quick and complete. Half-baked solutions usually only exacerbate the customer’s frustration.

The number of hours spent training agents, especially new ones, is the most reliable predictor of FCR. It is important to mention; however, that those hours must be spent learning how to address customer complaints quickly and accurately, where to direct certain types of complaints, and how to ensure that the issue was resolved.

Some companies take this one step further by utilizing  Next Issue Avoidance, which is the practice of anticipating future problems and either proactively solving them or enabling customers to solve the problem themselves. A common example of this is after helping a customer set up an account, an agent will provide them with supplemental tools to help them get the most out of the product.

This strategy can drastically reduce the likelihood of another entirely separate 3 – 5 minute interaction (with a now less than satisfied customer) by simply taking 15 – 30 extra seconds to simply forewarn the customer about common issues that may arise in the future.

Another consideration for improving FCR is technology. Advances in AI, speech and voice recognition, and data analytics will greatly increase the efficiency and reduce the cost and complexity of FCR.

A study done by Aberdeen comparing two groups of call centers found that the group using speech analytics software had an average FCR of 73% while the other group had an average of 23%.  As for AI, Chatbots and other self-serve technologies will provide customers with solutions to their specific issue almost instantly and without the need for a human. For now, they can only the simplest of complaints but in the future will be able to handle more and more complex scenarios.

Conclusion

Executives, managers, and employees should all be thinking about how to improve FCR, avoid “next issues”, and incorporate new technologies into their customer experience processes. The bottom line is that First Contact Resolution is a hugely important metric for measuring and controlling the customer experience, and deserves a prominent place in companies’ customer service strategy.

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