While there are many metrics determining overall customer experience and satisfaction, among the most important is first call resolution (FCR). The immediate goal of most call centers is delivering great customer service and saving on costs. Let’s explore how to improve first call resolution. To start, let us take a step back and answer a few fundamental questions: What is first call resolution? What is good first call resolution? How meaningful is first call resolution?
Decrease Customer Churn
Customers frequently attempt to handle their inquiries through self-service options. If unsuccessful, they contact support with the expectation of prompt resolution.
If a customer’s inquiry is not resolved during their initial call, the likelihood of them seeking assistance from your competitors often rises.
To improve your FCR rate, it’s important to understand how to calculate it.
What is First Call Resolution?
First call resolution measures the percentage of support requests that customer service agents resolve during the first encounter (note that “support requests” in this context can be pre-sales or post-sales).
For example, let us say that a business gets 500 support requests in March. Customer service agents resolve 481 during the initial encounter. 19 of those require follow-up, escalation, or some form of additional action. Based on these numbers, the first call resolution rate (FCR Rate) for March is 481/500 x 100 = 96.2%.
What is a Good First Call Resolution?
Generally, the call center industry benchmark average for first call resolution is 70%. However, some industries have lower or higher benchmarks. For example, research has found that the retail industry has the highest FCR at 78%, followed by insurance at 76%, financial services at 71%, and technical support at 65%.
Agents may be tempted to prolong customer calls to improve first call resolution rates, but this can negatively impact average handle time (AHT) and overall productivity.
Of course, different businesses within these sectors will have various contact center FCR Rates, depending on factors such as capacity and technology, and whether they see first call resolution — and in the bigger picture customer experience — as a top priority.
Ideally, all businesses, regardless of industry or marketplace, are striving to satisfy and delight customers. However, we all know that this is simply not the case. Some businesses go the extra mile to “wow” customers, while others basically view customer service as a “necessary evil.”
How Important is First Call Resolution?
Consider these eye-opening statistics:
- If customer issues are consistently resolved on the first encounter, 67% say they will stay with a company.
- For every 1% increase in CFR, there is a 1% increase in customer satisfaction (CSAT), and a 1% decrease in operating costs.
- Successful first call resolution increases the chances that a customer will purchase an additional product or service by 20%.
- Improving the first call resolution rate can have a positive impact on customer experience and their lifetime value.
In fact, simply keeping a close eye on FCR can dramatically improve the bottom line! Research finds that 60% of businesses that measure first call resolution for a year or more report up to a 30% increase in company performance.
Making First Call Resolution Better
Now that we have looked at the importance and value of a first call resolution, let us focus on 5 ways to improve first call resolution RATE:
Upgrade to a Cloud Contact Center
There are several powerful ways that a cloud contact center improves first call resolution. For example, customer service agents can:
- Use the live call transfer feature to shift calls across devices (e.g., desk phone to mobile phone), allowing them to continue the conversation while on the go vs. putting customers on hold or asking them to call back later.
- Use the presence feature to see if a colleague is available before transferring a call (“the best team member here to fully answer your important technical question is Eric, and I can see that he is available to speak to you, so with your permission I’d like to transfer your call directly to him”).
- Sending follow-up emails to unhappy customers provides insight into their concerns and uncovers possibilities for improvements and solutions. Doing this has a success rate of 68%. This simple step can go a long way toward turning an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer.
- Use the messaging feature to chat with a colleague in the background, to provide customers with accurate and updated information.
(“thank you for providing me with your order number, I have just been in touch with our shipping department and they have confirmed that your order was shipped this morning, and here is the tracking number for your reference”).
- Access CRM data in real-time to see a customer’s purchase and interaction history.
(“Please do not worry about finding the exact model number and date of your last purchase, I can see here that it is model X249-E, and the purchase date was November 23, 2022”).
Furthermore, cloud contact centers feature Auto Attendant, enabling customers to self-direct their call to the correct individual/team — which in turn can significantly improve both first call resolution and time to resolution (i.e. the amount of time that it takes for a customer issue to be resolved). Making it simpler to get answers helps a great deal in customer relationship management.
Identify Blocks and Bottlenecks
It is possible that a relatively low — or just plain bad —FCR Rate may be driven by one or two factors. For example, customers may be misled by outdated information on a web page or in a knowledge base. Performing post-call surveys can uncover these blocks and bottlenecks, which can then be corrected accordingly. Using customer feedback will give you tremendous insight into identifying and fixing issues.
Confirm that an Issue is Resolved
Ultimately, it is customers who determine whether an issue is resolved. As such, agents should do a final check to confirm that there are no additional matters. For example, agents can say:
“I am very happy that I was able to serve you today. Can you please let me know if I have fully resolved your issue?”
In most cases, the happy customer will say “yes.” But there will be some situations where the customer will not fully understand that their issue has been resolved, at which point the agent can explain that it has). Or, the customer may decide/recall that they have an additional issue. This is another reason customer feedback is so important.
Ensure that Agents are Demonstrating the 3 Cs: Clear, Concise, and Consistent
Customer service agents need to practice active listening and know how to ask intelligent, practical questions that budge conversations toward a successful resolution. The three key pillars to keep in mind are clarity, conciseness, and consistency.
Sometimes, it is necessary to ask the same set of questions, but in different ways in order to fully understand the issue or issues, and grasp what the customer wants to happen. Granted, this can be much easier said than done, and not all customers will be reasonable, rational, or respectful. However, appropriate training and resources can significantly improve resolution rates while improving the experience for both customers and agents alike. Everyone wins!
Say “Thank You” to Agents Who Do a Great Job
Research has found that a staggering 87% of call center workers reported “high” or “very high” levels of stress in their workplace, and more than 50% said they felt emotionally drained, suffered sleep problems, and felt burnout. Naturally, expecting these workers to give their very best consistently is not just unrealistic but unfair. We are talking about human beings here, not machines!
One surprisingly effective way to support top performers and keep standards high is simply by showing more gratitude. Separate research has found that 75% of employees acknowledged their motivation and morale would improve if their manager simply thanked them more often for a job well done.
The Final Word
Improving first call resolution is not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing process and commitment because customer expectations are always changing — and businesses need to stay ahead of the curve, or they risk being left behind.
The advice shared above will help your business set the pace and lead the way. Always remember: if you don’t take GREAT care of your customers, then sooner or later, someone else will! You want to delight customers whenever possible!
See our cloud call center solution in action, and discover how to improve first call resolution and overall customer satisfaction in your business. Contact Carolina Digital Phone now and schedule your free live guided demo. Call us now at (336) 544-4400