First Call Resolution: Best Practices for FCR Improvement

Megan Black
Megan Black
First Call Resolution: Best Practices for FCR Improvement

In call centers, First Call Resolution (FCR) is a crucial performance metric that directly influences both the effectiveness of customer service and the overall efficiency of operations.

Representing the ability to resolve a customer's issue on the first call, FCR is a clear indicator of a call center’s operational competence and customer focus.

High FCR rates are not just numbers; they reflect a call center’s commitment to resolving issues quickly and accurately, which in turn contributes to customer satisfaction and reduced workload for agents.

This metric is central to understanding and improving the quality of customer interactions in any call center environment.

In this article we'll be taking a deep dive into first call resolution and outlining actionable strategies to drastically improve your FCR metrics.

In case this is your first time hearing about it, let's first get into the definition of First Call Resolution.

What is First Call Resolution (FCR)?

First Call Resolution, a.k.a. FCR, is a key performance indicator for call centers. It measures the ability to resolve customer issues on the first interaction, emphasizing efficiency and customer satisfaction. FCR aims to reduce follow-up calls, enhance customer experiences, and provide operational insights, serving as a comprehensive measure of a call center's effectiveness.

The first call resolution KPI not only gauges the percentage of calls resolved at the initial contact but also serves as a barometer for overall customer service efficiency and effectiveness.

A comprehensive understanding of FCR encompasses its role in improving customer satisfaction, reducing repeat calls, and enhancing operational productivity.

FCR reflects the effectiveness of agent training, the adequacy of knowledge bases, and the efficiency of problem-solving strategies. FCR is crucial for optimizing resource allocation and improving the customer experience by ensuring issues are promptly and accurately resolved, thereby fostering customer loyalty and trust.

Why is FCR important to call centers?

Understanding and enhancing First Call Resolution (FCR) is pivotal for call centers. It's more than a metric; it represents a strategy that directly influences operational efficiency, cost reduction, and agent morale. High FCR rates signal effective issue resolution on the first call, reducing the need for follow-ups, saving resources, and improving customer satisfaction. This focus on FCR not only streamlines operations but also fosters a positive workplace environment and enhances the overall customer experience, demonstrating a wise investment in the quality and efficiency of customer service operations.

Here’s what an increase in FCR can mean for your call center:

  • Operational Efficiency: By focusing on resolving issues on the first call, less time and resources are spent on follow-ups. This frees up your team to handle a larger volume of customer issues.
  • Cost Management: When fewer calls are required to solve a customer's problem, operational costs decrease. Reduced on-call time means increased agent productivity and a decreased need for extra staffing.
  • Agent Confidence: Successfully resolving a customer issue on the first interaction can boost an agent's confidence. This heightened morale often leads to better performance, reduced attrition rates, and increased retention rates.
  • Improved Reputation: With more satisfied customers, your call center's reputation for effective and efficient customer service is strengthened. This means more future business opportunities.

How does FCR impact customer experience?

FCR significantly enhances customer experience by ensuring issues are resolved on the first call, eliminating the need for multiple contacts. This efficiency demonstrates your company's respect for customer time and commitment to swift problem resolution, fostering loyalty and satisfaction. Overall, FCR's positive effect on customer experience is multifaceted, improving satisfaction, reducing stress, and promoting loyalty.

Other FCR impacts on CX include:

Customer Time-Savings

Quick resolutions mean customers spend less time dealing with issues, making their experience smoother.

Enhanced Customer Loyalty

When customers don't have to call back for the same issue, they feel valued and are more likely to stay with your company.

Better Customer Experience

A high FCR rate means fewer frustrations for customers, leading to a more positive overall experience.

How do you calculate FCR?

FCR is calculated by dividing the number of customer issues resolved on their first call by the total number of first calls, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. It's vital to accurately define a 'first call'—the customer's initial contact on an issue—and a 'resolved issue'—resolved to the customer's satisfaction with no follow-up needed. This formula provides a clear measure of call center effectiveness and customer satisfaction.

FCR calculation example

In May, Company A received 645 first calls about different issues.

Their agents resolve 468 of these customer issues on that first call. This would mean Company A’s FCR for May is 73%.

Company B resolved 1,106 first calls in May, but they received 1,912 total – an FCR rate of 58%.

Despite resolving significantly more first calls than Company A, Company B’s FCR rate is much lower.

how to calculate first call resolution (FCR) infographic

Ensuring the accuracy of FCR calculations is essential for understanding your call center's efficiency and customer satisfaction levels.

What’s the best way to measure and track FCR?

To effectively measure and track FCR, utilize a consistent method involving both management and agents. Techniques include agent self-assessments, management monitoring via CRM, call tracking software for automated insights, and customer feedback surveys. Alternatively, consolidate tracking in one place with call center coaching software for a unified approach to improving service quality and FCR metrics.

Agent Self-Assessment

Encouraging agents to self-evaluate their performance on each call and whether they believe it was fully resolved can provide insights into their understanding and perception of FCR. This can be useful for identifying areas where additional training might be needed.

Manager Monitoring and Reporting

Team leads and QA teams can monitor calls, conduct quality assessments, and record feedback in your CRM. They can also verify any data logged by agents in the CRM system for accuracy and consistency, ensuring quality adherence and accurate FCR tracking.

Call Tracking Software

Specialized software can automate tracking and provide real-time feedback to both agents and supervisors. This can help identify trends and provide timely coaching opportunities.

Customer Feedback Surveys

Post-call surveys can help measure perceived resolution from the customer's perspective. Remember to involve your agents and team leads in understanding this feedback as it provides direct insights into their performance.

In a recent survey, despite the majority of participants saying First Call Resolution is very important, 34% say they don’t measure FCR. By involving employees in the measurement and tracking of FCR, organizations not only improve the accuracy of their tracking but also engage their staff in the process of improving FCR rates.

Incorporating AI-Powered Tools

Solutions like AmplifAI, an AI-driven performance enablement platform, makes FCR measurement and improvement seamless. By integrating AI insights and personalized coaching, AmplifAI empowers call centers leaders and agents to elevate FCR through smarter data analysis, targeted agent development, and streamlined operational efficiency.

AmplifAI is a comprehensive approach to not only track and measure FCR accurately but also to engage and improve staff performance, making it an invaluable tool for any organization focused on enhancing customer satisfaction and operational success.

What’s a good FCR target for call centers?

To set a practical FCR target, aim for above 70% as standard and above 80% as exceptional, considering industry, call complexity, and seasonal factors. Tailor targets to your call center's specifics, balancing high FCR with quality service.

It's a good idea to note that FCR targets can vary due to many reasons, including:

How Industry Affects FCR Targets

Different industries face distinct customer interactions, which naturally impact FCR rates. For instance, in the retail industry, calls often involve simpler transactions such as order status inquiries or returns, possibly leading to higher FCR rates.

However, in sectors like healthcare or finance, the calls might revolve around more complex issues, such as policy explanations or financial advice, which could result in lower FCR rates due to the additional follow-ups these issues might require.

How Call Type Affects FCR Targets

Call complexity significantly influences the FCR rate. For instance, if your call center deals with simple inquiries or transactions, you might expect a higher FCR rate. However, if your center handles more complex issues, the First Call Resolution may be lower.

Seasonality can also come into play here. For instance, during tax season, a call center handling tax-related queries may see a drop in FCR rates due to the complexity and volume of the queries. Similarly, a retail call center might experience fluctuating FCR rates during holiday seasons when call volumes surge and queries become more varied and complex.

It is essential to set realistic and achievable targets tailored to your industry, the complexity of customer issues, and the unique dynamics of your call center. Constant monitoring, analysis, and benchmarking against industry standards will help determine the most appropriate FCR target for your call center.

Always remember, a high FCR is generally desirable, but it shouldn't compromise the quality of customer service or satisfaction. Striking the right balance is key.

What are the most common FCR mistakes?

Common mistakes include not having a clear definition of FCR, overlooking the impact of FCR on other call center metrics, focusing solely on FCR at the expense of other KPIs, and not taking a holistic view that includes other aspects of the customer experience.

Take a look at these common mistakes that can hurt your FCR rates:

Not Being Clear About FCR

If everyone in your team doesn't have the same understanding of what FCR is, you might end up with confusing results. Everyone should have the same definition of "first call" and "resolved issue" and also know what the definitions are.

Only Focusing on FCR

FCR is important, but it's not the only thing that matters. If your team is too focused on getting a high FCR, they might rush calls or avoid hard questions. This could make customers less happy with your service due to things like long wait times or rude service.

Not Training Enough

You need to keep training and coaching your team if you want your FCR to get better. If your team doesn't have the right skills or knowledge, they won't be able to solve customer problems on the first call.

Ignoring What Customers Say

Customers often tell you how you can improve. If you ignore this or don't have a way to keep track of it, you might miss out on chances to get better at solving problems on the first call.

Not Supporting New Hires

When new people join your team, they might not know everything they need to handle customer calls. If you don't give them the training and support they need, they might struggle to solve customer problems on the first call.

Not Celebrating Success

When your team does well, it's important to celebrate! If you don't recognize or reward people for doing a good job at solving problems on the first call, they might lose motivation to keep improving.

Inefficient FCR Coaching

If coaches are not effectively teaching how to improve FCR, the coaching sessions won't deliver the desired improvements. Coaches should be trained to provide targeted, constructive feedback and to demonstrate effective problem-solving methods. Plus, coaches need to be able to deliver the right feedback at the right time – delayed coaching isn’t efficient coaching.

How to improve First Call Resolution (FCR)?

Improving FCR requires effective coaching, better visibility into metrics through analytics, and leveraging AI for real-time data-driven guidance. Incorporating call center coaching software enhances these efforts by providing actionable insights and automating feedback, supporting agents in resolving customer issues efficiently and boosting FCR rates

Consider these strategies to improve FCR:

Optimize Coaching Process

Increase or start targeted coaching sessions focused on improving an agent’s FCR skills. Regular, constructive feedback and coaching sessions can help agents hone their problem-solving skills and understand how to better meet customer needs on the first call. But just because the coaching is done, doesn’t mean it’s done well. Regularly assess the impact of these sessions on FCR rates to ensure the coaching sessions – and the coaches – are effective.

Review L&D Training

Work with your Learning and Development teams on comprehensive training to handle a broad range of customer service situations most likely to be resolved on the first call. Use insights from FCR metrics to update and evolve the training materials continually, ensuring agents are well-prepared to address these customer issues quickly and effectively.

Streamline Call Workflows

Optimize your processes and systems to facilitate quicker resolution. This could include integrating systems for easier data access, improving escalation procedures, or simplifying the customer follow-up process.

Enhance Visibility into FCR Metrics

Gain a clearer understanding of your FCR trends by leveraging analytics and dashboards. This allows you to pinpoint when and why resolutions are not occurring on the first call. Plus, when you provide this information on the agent’s dashboard, they can be self-motivated to improve their own rating. 

Implement AI Coaching Tools

Leverage AI coaching tools like AmplifAI to enhance your training and feedback processes. These tools can provide personalized, data-driven insights for each agent, helping to pinpoint specific areas for improvement. By automating aspects of the coaching process, AmplifAI can ensure timely, effective guidance, further improving FCR rates through advanced analytics and targeted coaching strategies.

Conclusion

First Call Resolution (FCR) stands as a cornerstone metric for call centers, driving both operational efficiency and customer satisfaction sky-high.

With high FCR rates, call centers see a cascade of benefits: operational costs plummet, agent morale soars, and your brand's reputation strengthens. Navigating past common FCR pitfalls requires a blend of clear definitions, focused agent training, and sophisticated analytics.

AmplifAI is as a game-changer in this regard, marrying data-driven insights into top performing agents, with actionable AI coaching to propel FCR metrics. Enterprise giants like The Home Depot have seen remarkable success with AmplifAI, underscoring its value. Ready to transform your call center's FCR? Explore how AmplifAI can make a difference—schedule your demo today.

FAQs about FCR

Given the complexity and critical role of FCR in call center success, we've compiled additional FAQs to delve deeper into its nuances, offering you further insights and actionable advice to optimize your FCR rate.

What's the relationship between FCR and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score?

FCR and CSAT scores are closely linked. Resolving an issue on the first call often leads to higher customer satisfaction, showcasing the importance of FCR in improving CSAT scores

How does Average Handle Time (AHT) impact FCR?

AHT, or Average Handle Time, reflects the total time an agent spends on a call, including conversation and follow-up tasks. While striving for a lower AHT is common to boost efficiency, it's crucial to avoid pushing agents to rush calls. Hastily handled calls can lead to unresolved issues, requiring customers to call back, which negatively impacts FCR. Balancing the goal of reducing AHT with maintaining quality call resolution is essential for improving FCR without compromising service quality.

How do different channels (phone, email, live chat, social media) impact FCR rates?

Traditional channels like voice calls through a business phone system often have higher FCR rates because issues can be resolved in real-time. Digital channels like email and live chat tend to have lower FCR rates. However, this can be improved by coaching agents on the strengths and limitations of each channel and how to respond most efficiently.

How does employee engagement impact FCR?

Boosting employee engagement can significantly improve FCR rates. Engaged employees are typically more committed to their jobs, tend to develop better problem-solving skills, and are more likely to go the extra mile to resolve a customer's issue on the first call.

How should FCR be balanced with other call center KPIs?

While FCR is an important KPI, it should not be considered in isolation. Balancing FCR with other KPIs ensures a more comprehensive view of call center performance. For instance, a high FCR combined with a high AHT might indicate agents are spending too long on calls to resolve issues on the first contact. Having a system that balances FCR with other KPIs is critical to improving overall call center performance.

How can AmplifAI improve First Call Resolution?

AmplifAI enhances FCR through gamification, clear dashboards, AI-driven 'Next Best Actions', and improving coaching effectiveness. If you’re looking to improve your FCR – or any call center KPI – AmplifAI’s AI-driven performance enablement platform might just be the solution you’re looking for to boost productivity, engagement, and overall performance.

Here is a closer look at how AmplifAI can improve First Call Resolution rate: 

  • Gamification: Gamification is a great way to motivate employees and deliver recognition. Easily create games tailored around positive FCR scores to encourage your agents to resolve customer issues promptly and efficiently.
  • Clear Dashboards: With AmplifAI, both agents and supervisors have access to clear, intuitive dashboards. These dashboards provide a snapshot of individual and team performance metrics, including FCR, enabling quick identification of areas needing improvement.
  • Next Best Actions: With so many factors affecting FCR, it can be hard to know exactly what to coach next. AmplifAI uses advanced AI to analyze data and indicate the Next Best Action for each agent – ensuring supervisors are coaching on the right issue at the right time.
  • Coaching Effectiveness: Just because your team leads are coaching, doesn’t mean they’re coaching well. AmplifAI provides an understanding of how well coaching interventions translate into improved FCR and other performance metrics.

For one BPO, adding AmplifAI led to a 4% increase in FCR for this leading U.S. telecommunications company. The call center also improved their coaching effectiveness by 67% and a 24% improvement to AHT. Read the full case study here.

Share with your network!

Benefit
Result
💯
Improved Performance & Customer Experience
Month over month gains in Issue Resolution,
FCR and NPS;
Month over month reductions in Handle times,
ACW and Hold
👥
Winning additional client headcount
30% improvement in sales conversion
💪
Retaining talented people
8-point reduction in turnover
💰
Improving financial performance
10% increase in utilization

Summary

The future of success in your contact center is contingent on how you impact performance in ways that are both immediate and sustainable. And it doesn’t matter whether your agents are on-site, at-home, full-time, part-time, or temporary – you must deliver on performance.

Coaching is one of the most significant tools we can use to deliver on the engagement and performance of our people – but we must develop our processes, our people and leadership skills, and our technology tools, in order to overthrow the pervasive challenges to achieving greater coaching effectiveness and supercharging contact center performance!

Unlock the potential of your employees and skyrocket your ROI with cutting-edge coaching.

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Connect with the authors:

Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI

Jim Rembach President at CX Media

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