Call centres continue to play a major role in how customers, especially ones that have complaints, engage with a company. They are on the front lines of evolving customer service trends. On a day to day basis, staff deal with upset customers, as a result, have plenty of useful insights that they can share with the business. Their job is to resolve issues fast.

Implementing First Call Resolution (FCR) is the ultimate goal for customer service agents. In this article, we’ll share tips to help you better understand why FCR is cardinal to the success of contact centres. We will also discuss the importance of Unified Communications (UC) and Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve improved FCR. Before we dive into that, though, let’s get our definitions in order.

What is First Call Resolution

Also known as one-touch resolution, FCR is the ability to resolve customer issues on the first attempt. This means that there will be no follow-up required after a customer inquiry. FCR is also defined as a primary measure of how call centres handle customer support queries. FCR metric is applied to gauge customer satisfaction and business performance.

Measuring FCR is relatively simple. Simply divide the number of Resolved Incidents On First Contact by Total Incidents and multiply it by 100.

Source: Call Centre Helper

Collecting the data is the challenging part for many contact centres. This is because there are different ways to collect the data required to accurately measure FCR. These include:

  • No Repeat Calls Within a Timeframe – In this method, companies make assumptions that concerns have been resolved if customers have not called again after a week or two.
  • Asking the Customer During the Call – This method may be the most basic way to gather FCR data. Advisors would record “yes” or “no” answers into a database.
  • Collecting Customer Feedback – There are many types of customer feedback methods, including email surveys and post-call phone interviews. Collecting customer feedback is a way to identify people who are hesitant to report that the agent didn’t resolve their call the first time.

This graph gives a sense of how call centre companies measure FCR:

Source: Call Centre Helper

FCR: A Vital Agent For Customer Satisfaction

According to NewVoiceMedia, the primary reason customers switch away from products and services is because they feel unappreciated. Respecting your customers’ time is a way to show that you appreciate them. Forrester reports that 66% of adults believe valuing their time is the essence of good customer service. They think it is the most important thing a company can do while serving them.

According to The Ascent Group, FCR plays a crucial role in operational metrics in call centres. There is a positive correlation between first-call resolution rate and customer satisfaction rates. Satisfied customers are generally more loyal, which means they are more likely to make a future purchase. Indeed, high FCR rates should be a common goal for contact centres.

Link Between FCR & Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Research from MetricNet found a strong correlation between FCR and CSAT. For every 1% increase in FCR, businesses can anticipate a 1% increase in CSAT. ICMI reports that 75% of companies that reported FCR improvement saw an increase in CSAT over a 12-month period.

This makes sense. The longer it takes to resolve a customer complaint, the more dissatisfied the customer. This negatively impacts revenue drivers such sales opportunities and customer lifetime value.

Keep in mind that on average, 96% of unhappy customers will tell 15 friends about their negative experiences about a brand. Providing a resolution on the call the first time will likely have the opposite impact. On top of which, consumers are generally willing to spend 16% more for better service.

Source: StellaConnect

Providing quality service for every support inquiry is beneficial in the long haul. Addressing their concerns the first time can turn possible disparagers into potential brand advocates. Keep in mind that great customer service is key to building a positive brand reputation.

FCR Is The Most Effective Call Centre Metric

FCR stands out from other ways of viewing call centre performance. According to Frost and Sullivan, FCR is the “home run” of contact centre metrics. This is because FCR influences almost every important call centre statistic and measurement. It affects service efficiency, service costs, customer satisfaction, and more.

When call centres apply FCR best practices, they usually see increasing trends in other core metrics. If achieved consistently, high FCR rates offer a positive impact on each of these areas:

Operational Costs

There is a correlation between FCR and operational costs. Research from Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group reports that a 1% improvement in FCR can result in a 1% decrease in contact centre operational costs.

This is because solving an issue on the first call eliminates the time and resources needed to deal with follow up calls and complaints from customers. This improves operational efficiency. Frost & Sullivan claims a 15% increase in FCR results in a 57% reduction in costly repeat calls.

Customer Churn and Retention

If you can solve problems quickly, you are more likely to keep your customers. According to Zendesk, there are three critical factors customers identify as crucial in the service experience. They are the speed of response, the speed of resolution, and the friendliness of the representative.

Solving a customer’s problem the first time can mean the difference between customer churn and retention. Accenture found that a low FCR was one of the top complaints from customers. If you cannot resolve issues on the first attempt, many will defect to competitors. The study reveals that 80% of customers who shifted loyalties said they would have stayed if their concerns were resolved on the first contact.

Agent Performance

As a reliable metric, FCR will help your business determine your best customer service agents. At the same time, you will be able to identify which agents have the highest instances of repeat calls.

You can devote coaching sessions to these agents to improve your FCR. Robust training will equip your customer service team when handling complex concerns. In-depth product knowledge and cross-channel communication strategies will be beneficial.

Source: StellaConnect

As you can see in the graph above, there is a clear correlation between agent performance and the amount of training they are provided. This is why one of the best ways to improve FCR is to provide staff with comprehensive training and good equipment. This is where unified communication systems and relevant technology like an IVR system are critical.

The ability to track customer interactions across multiple channels, helps the customer service agent understand customer history. The provision of AI-supported software that predicts customer complaints and provides solutions helps agents resolve issues faster.

Employee Satisfaction

Many businesses tend to overlook employee satisfaction. Some companies don’t realize the importance of keeping top-notch employees. Note that turnover can be one of the highest costs attributed to the HR department. “The Cost of High Employee Turnover” emphasizes these costs, including hiring and training costs.

Through understanding your teams’ performance, you can identify and reward your best performing staff. An increase in salary can help you retain your best employees. This is important for an industry with a high rate of employee turnover.

Sales Opportunities

If agents resolve customer issues on the first attempt, customers will feel good about the interaction. They will be open to making additional purchases. This creates an opportunity to cross sell or upsell to customers.

According to SQM Group, customers’ cross-selling acceptance rate increases by 20% because of FCR. This helps you maximize the value per customer. It is also a chance to generate favorable recommendations. A study from Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. This means that word of mouth is a critical influencer in people’s purchasing decisions.

Roles of Unified Communications and IoT in FCR

Without a doubt, optimal first call resolution is vital in delivering quality service. Growth-minded businesses come up with solutions to achieve better FCR rates. Through incorporating UC into call centre operations, you empower your agents with the knowledge and responses they need

Up to date equipment and proper training ensures agents have quick access to the information they require during calls. To boot, they will be able to provide well-developed resolutions to customers through the use of various technologies. These include instant messaging, screen sharing, web phone calls, and HD video conferencing.