First Contact Resolution (FCR) is the customer support’s ability to solve the customer’s issue at the very instance of contact, without follow ups required. Customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal for every business. Having an improved FCR rate, ensures that your customers are happy and satisfied. This further confirms a mutually beneficial relationship.
In this digitally-driven world, customers will connect with you via all platforms especially social media. It is essential to have your agents available on all touchpoints to make sure that customers do not have to keep following up with your support team. Failure to offer a first-contact resolution reflects poorly on your company’s ability to serve your customers. In the longer run, having a good FCR rate also implies that your agents are efficient.
Businesses often come up with different strategies to make sure that agents are able to offer first call resolution. This is because there are several multifarious advantages like understanding different customer-centric metrics. From customer satisfaction score i.e. CSAT to understanding retention rate, FCR enhances and improves these essential metrics. It helps you to gauge your agent’s Average Handling Time (AHT) as well. Metrics like this helps team leaders to recognize recurring customer issues, enabling their agents to learn and adapt to these issues. In future, whenever these problems arise, agents are well-prepared with hands-on solutions, furthermore improving your FCR rate.
While organisations have their own approach to measure FCR, there are some standard ways to measure FCR. For live calls or live web chats, this means that the customer’s issue is resolved before they hang up the phone or end the chat session. Calls or chats that require a customer callback, or are escalated to another source of support, do not qualify for first contact resolution. For e-mails, which now account for a significant percentage of all service desk contacts, the de facto standard emerging in the industry is that resolution within one business hour of receiving a customer e-mail counts as FCR. For social media, the time window has to be shorter.
Now, the same customer can call back and it is important to decide the time window (usually beyond 48 hours) to identify if it is not a repeat call. If there are multiple channels, it is imperative to use an omnichannel to identify if it is new issue or repeat issue.
It is important for any productive process to set goals, set a pace to work towards those goals and, finally, compare actual progress with the desired level of progress aimed by the company. The process starts with:
What are customers essentially looking for? What is the fastest route to solve certain recurring problems? What solutions make customers report maximum satisfaction? These and the likes are some examples of certain essential goals that the supervising committee needs to set for maximum productivity.
No matter how clearly defined the goals are for a company, it is moot if the agents involved in helping customers solve issues are not adequately trained to deal with the multitude of difficulties that can arise with real-time handling of problems.
FCR rate can vary over phone calls to chat or even in-person. It usually depends upon the nature of issue the customer is facing. Pointing to a right FAQ or Knowledge base or putting a bot can also improve the FCR drastically. A high FCR and customer satisfaction rate means to have a consistent performance over all facets of customer support resolution.
Customer support agents also need to be provided with adequate incentives to focus on resolving issues on the first contact itself, lest they defer it to further agents increasing workload and depleting precious time company can give to solving issues raised by other customers.
FCR rates will not see an improvement if customers do not feel like they did enough or that they received enough assistance from the company-side to resolve a particular issue that is bothering them. Even if an issue genuinely takes 1 week to be solved, but the customer expects it to be solved in 2 days, the customer will report not only a lower satisfaction rate but will also make repeated contact requests with the company because the expectation on the customer-side was unrealistically high from the very beginning. It is for this reason that customers need to be informed on a priority basis how long resolution will take. Thus, maintaining or even improving customer satisfaction rates. Like it has been known for a long time - it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than the reverse!
FCR has a great benefit in reducing costs of operation because of the huge impact it has on repeat calls. FCR helps to drastically reduce the workload on call centres and customer support outlets and helps them cater to a wider range of customer and customer issues at the same time. Indirectly, it not only takes the pressure off employees - it also increases their efficiency. Studies have indicated that a 15%-16% increase in FCR rates lead to a 57%-58% reduction in repeat calls.
Customer satisfaction rate is an important metric to analyse how well a company is performing against other competitors in the marketplace. Targeting a better FCR helps the customer to allow the employee to display their problem solving skills and to live up to the quality of service the customer expects. Resolving all issues on the very first call is the golden opportunity for any organisation and should always be the primary focus of the resolution team.
Many customer support systems tend to judge the performance of the employees on the AHT (average handling time) of the call, which often times leads these employees to dispose the interaction as soon as possible even if that means offering sub-par solutions to problems faced by customers. Instead, by resolving client issues on the very first contact, the business helps make a standard of the acceptable practices and is able to determine the best performers on the basis of these desirable standard and reward such behaviour. Thus, encouraging employees to always invariably target first contact resolution.
Customer issues being resolved on the first contact itself would mean that the customer will be open to considering doing further business with that organisation. If not, they will feel skeptical to move forward and get impression that such underperforming level of problem resolution is a norm and will shy away from doing any further business with the organisation.
Through FCR of problems, the customer feels they are being acknowledged and that their issues are being given due recognition by the organisation. Many will also subconsciously tend to look at hassle-free resolution as the norm or even as a reward for choosing to conduct business with the organisation in question over other organisations. This will keep them from considering switching companies and eventually improve customer retention and repeat business transactions.
Indirectly speaking, if FCR rates are being tracked it provides the added advantage of identifying issues that lower FCR rates and then work on these specific issues with added focus to solve them. Fewer problems affecting First Contact Resolution means better rates of problem solving which eventually translate to satisfied customers.
In addition, better FCR rates have also been evidenced to improve agent performance and thus increase the organisation's rates of profit and efficacy in doing so.
First Contact Resolution is one of the single most important and efficient parameters that very explicitly has an effect on almost all other parameters that measure an organisation's performance across various fields. It is extremely important for organisations to realise the weight this single parameter carries and must actively incorporate processes that help improve First Contact Resolution (FCR).
Author Bio: Sweta is a passionate technical writer with experience in digital marketing. Outside work, she is a devoted Esports advocate.