Achieving FCR: Are Your Customers Satisfied?

Measuring customer satisfaction in the call center is part-art, part-science. But call center QA firms uniformly consider First Call Resolution (FCR) one of the key measures for achieving customer satisfaction in the call center.

But FCR – as a measurement tool – is challenged by customers with increasingly complex inquiries for which an immediate answer isn’t always possible. FCR is also subject to varying descriptions: what is considered first call? What about other customer relationship channels, such as chat or social media? How about when things transactions migrate across channels?

In Search of a Definition: First Call Resolution
In customer relationship management (CRM), first call resolution means addressing the customer’s need during the first call to eliminate the need for a follow-up call. Along the way, it’s become a pretty popular IT customer service performance measurement.

But in today’s tech-enabled world, if a customer has to call after not finding info on a website – they might not consider that FCR. Or they might not consider it FCR – as some firms do – if the customer inquiry begins on chat and migrates to another channel, such as telephone.

And insofar as it’s a measure of success, the customer is really the final judge of what constitutes resolution on the first call.

FCR – Avoiding ‘Dilution’ of the Customer Experience
Regardless of how you measure it, FCR matters. If callers end up having to speak to several call center agents for a single inquiry, the customer experience is diluted and satisfaction plummets.

An article published at discussed research by The Ascent Group, which found that “60% of companies measuring FCR for a year or longer reported a 1% – 30% improvement in their performance.”

Call center company SQM Group reported that for every 1% improvement you make in FCR, you get a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction. Also in their findings: On average, customer satisfaction drops by 15% every time a customer has to call back about the same issue.

Determining Customer Satisfaction With FCR
Here are a couple of principles to keep in mind when using First Call Resolutionto accurately determine customer satisfaction.

  • Decide How You Will Measure FCR
    With its focus on improving the customer experience, FCR is a significant variable in driving the experience. But it’s only one variable, not an absolute metric of customer satisfaction. It should always be used in conjunction with other metrics to truly gauge and measure customer satisfaction.How you’ll measure FCR will directly impact your results. Some companies, for example, don’t count agent call backs when determining FCR.

    FCR requires that call centers rethink talk time, a measure companies view as: “the faster the better.”

    Fast talk time averages accompanied by poor FCR rates are one of the signs that customers are not being adequately served. Generally, call center managers should accept an increase in talk time – as long as FCR rates rise. This, in turn, requires careful monitoring of follow-up calls and re-open rates.

    This quote from an article on FCR at Atlassian has some great advice: “If you’re knocking your FCR goals out of the park, but getting a ton of new tickets or reopen requests from the same customers, you may not be truly resolving the first request. I’ll be bold here: Approach any FCR measurement with caution that isn’t accompanied by a reopen rate measurement. We recommend allowing at least a 24-48 hour window from the initial call before including a resolved issue in your FCR percentage.”

  • Make the Customer Experience Effortless
    If follow up with a customer is needed (and sometimes it is unavoidable), make sure the same agents perform the follow up. If the customer desires, agents should leverage other channels – texting, email, warm transfers, etc.  Agents who take the initiative to save the customer’s time, reduce aggravation and  improve customer satisfaction.
  • Leverage Technology
    Today’s call center technology can deliver a wealth of data for analysis of customer satisfaction. FCR result data, IVR post-call phone and web surveys and more can help gauge the true impact of FCR success.
  • FCR: Training Drives it Home
    Awareness and creating a goal for FCR success is achieved the same way all other QA behaviors are achieved – training, measuring, coaching andaccountability. As with most everything else QA-related in the call center, training and accountability for FCR should flow up the line – to supervisors, managers, directors, VPs and more.

How much emphasis does your call center place on first call resolution?