Tips to improve your contact center’s first call resolution

Yugal Pandey

January 9, 20239 min read

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What is a First Call Resolution rate in a call center?

First call resolution (or one call resolution) rate estimates a contact center’s ability to resolve customer queries at first contact via voice channels, like phone and IVR, without the need for follow-ups.

First Call Resolution is different from First Contact Resolution. These terms are often used interchangeably.

First Call Resolution is an important customer service metric because a high FCR rate can improve:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score

  • Customer experience

  • Customer retention rate (CRR)

  • Agent productivity

However, despite such benefits, 39% of contact centers don’t measure first call resolution due to several reasons such as lack of expertise or not having access to relevant data.

And that’s what you’ll learn in this article. In addition, you’ll get to know:

  • What is the importance of First Call Resolution?

  • How to calculate First Call Resolution in a call center?

  • 5 ways to collect data for measuring First Call Resolution

  • What’s a good First Call Resolution rate?

  • Best practices for improving your FCR

What is the importance of First Call Resolution?

Customers expect quick resolutions. They don’t enjoy reaching out to agents multiple times for the same queries.

For customers, getting their issues resolved in a single interaction (no matter the length of time) is an important aspect of a good customer service experience.

Beyond good customer service experiences, here are some other benefits of a high FCR rate:

1. Improved CSAT scores

Customer satisfaction score or CSAT represents how satisfied customers are when interacting with your support agent. A high CSAT score indicates that your customers are happy with your brand.

Given that FCR ensures query resolution in one call, it reduces friction and meets customer expectations, causing a steady increase in CSAT.

2. Reduced operational costs

When customer queries get resolved in the first call, they don't call again with the same query; this results in a decreased number of repeat calls and increases agent availability to address other customers' queries.

Eventually, as the number of repeat calls drops, call center operational costs also reduce because agents can assist more customers simultaneously.

3. Effective cross-selling opportunities

Solving customer queries in the first call can encourage them to stay connected with your friend. Moreover, a positive experience can make customers open to cross-selling pitches and even make a purchase.

4. Decrease customer churn

Customers often try resolving their queries themselves via self-service options. And when they are unable to do so, they call support expecting to get their query resolved quickly.

If their query doesn’t get resolved in the first call, their chances of deflecting to your competitors may increase.

That’s the impact of an FCR rate and you must ensure that it keeps increasing. But, before learning how to increase the first call resolution rate, you should know how to calculate it.

How to calculate First Call Resolution in a call center?

First call resolution is an easy-to-understand metric with a simple formula:

Formula to calculate first call resolution.

Time period: it’s advisable to measure your first call resolution rate every 30 days. That way, you’ll notice possible dips and fix them before it’s too late.

While this is a common first call resolution formula, companies might measure this metric using different variables as per their requirements, some of which include:

  • Customer survey responses

    Formula to calculate first call resolution using customer survey responses.

    Based on the survey results, divide the number of customers who responded positively to “Did we resolve your query?” with the total number of customers you surveyed.

  • Unique inquiries

    Formula to calculate first call resolution using unique inquiries.

    Every variable remains the same here, except for “Total # of unique customer inquiries” — it represents inquiries that didn’t require callbacks.

    These are a few popular methods of calculating one call resolution rate. But, you can’t measure this metric without data. Listed below are a few ways to help you collect relevant data.

5 ways to collect data for measuring First Call Resolution

1. Post-call survey

With post-call surveys, you can collect the most accurate data for measuring one call resolution rate because you request customers to take this survey immediately after their call with your agent ends, when the conversation is still fresh in their minds.

There are two ways to do this:

General post-call survey
You can send customers general post-call surveys via emails and text messages with a link to the call feedback form containing questions like:

  • How satisfied were you with this call? — to calculate CSAT.

  • Was our agent able to resolve your query? — to calculate FCR.

  • Have you called us about this issue before? — to calculate FCR.

You can also add a section to gather “additional feedback.”

Agents ask customers directly

Before concluding the call, your agents can ask customers questions like:

  • Have I fully resolved your query?

  • Is there anything else I can help you with?

Your agents can then log these responses.

2. Email survey

You can email feedback surveys to customers immediately or even weeks after their call (if they didn’t respond to the initial email).

However, customers might not remember the interaction if weeks have gone by. In that case, try to gather general feedback.

  • Did you have to call support multiple times to resolve a specific query?

  • Can you tell us what that query was? — applicable if the answer to the above question is “yes.”

  • Is that query now resolved? — applicable if the answer to the first question is “yes.”

Apart from first call resolution rate, you can use email surveys to calculate other customer service metrics, including (but not limited to):

3. IVR survey

70% of customers have used self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey, and IVR (interactive voice response) is one such channel.

Journey of a call through an IVR system.

Apart from helping customers resolve their queries themselves, there are two ways you can use IVR to collect customer feedback for measuring FCR:

  • In-call survey
    After helping a customer resolve their query, your agents can ask them if they wish to share their feedback. If the customer responds positively, transfer the call to the IVR system and collect their feedback.

    Remember to keep the process simple and quick. For example, you may ask questions along the lines of “Was our agent able to resolve your query?” And give customers these options: click 1 for Yes and 2 for No.

  • Automated feedback calls
    You can schedule automated calls to customers requesting their feedback after 24 to 36 hours of their interaction with your agent — the sooner, the better.

4. CRM

Your agents can export customer feedback to your customer relationship management (CRM) system with remarks against each ticket, like resolved, customer satisfied, query escalated, etc.

5 steps to using CRM for customer service.

You can also use your CRM to monitor how often customers call support to resolve the same query within the next 30 days.

5. Call monitoring

Occasionally, you can monitor either live or recorded customer-agent interactions to find out whether agents are adding correct call disposition codes or not — as they reflect CX, CSAT, and FCR, and take appropriate measures.

What are Call Disposition Codes?

Call disposition codes are labels assigned to recorded calls, summarizing the outcome and mentioning the next steps for agents. Contact centers use call disposition codes to describe and categorize a call.

For example, if an agent provides an immediate solution to a customer, the agent can denote the disposition code for the call as “one call resolution.”

Note: you can set up your own disposition codes as per your preferences.

Now that you understand how to calculate and measure your first call resolution rate. It’s time to determine if it's good enough.

What is a good First Call Resolution rate?

Based on several reports, a good FCR rate ranges between 70% to 79% — of course, the higher the percentage, the better (the rates may vary depending on your industry, business size, and type of customers).

But to achieve a good first call resolution rate, sometimes agents might be inclined to stay on customer calls for a longer duration, which isn’t always wise because it directly impacts the average query handling time (AHT), which, in turn, ends up affecting overall productivity.

With this and several other considerations, here are some recommendations on how to improve your FCR:

Best practices for improving your First Call Resolution

1. Set an FCR benchmark for future analysis

Before starting, measure your one call resolution rate in the last 30 to 60 days, so you have a benchmark for future growth analysis.

If you don’t have enough data to measure first call resolution, use the industry average as your benchmark, which is 74%.

2. Identify the root cause of low FCR rates

Analyze your call records and customer feedback to pinpoint the common causes of low first call resolution rates. You can also talk to your agents and customers to gather more data. Based on your analyses, create a data-driven plan to improve your first call resolution rates.

You could ask yourself these questions to arrive at actionable results:

  • What type of queries are typically resolved during the first call?

  • Why are customers not satisfied after the first call?

  • Why do customers request escalation to the manager or supervisor?

  • Are customers switching support channels? If yes, why?

3. Maintain your knowledge base

As more than two-thirds of customers have relied on self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey, a robust knowledge base could prove to be an excellent resource to help customers help themselves.

Customers can easily access relevant information via a knowledge base and solve their queries themselves before reaching out to support.

A knowledge base is an excellent resource that agents and chatbots can refer to during customer interactions and help resolve their queries faster.

If your knowledge base is able to solve most of your customers’ common queries, your customers might not reach out to support a second time.

4. Use AI agent assists

Your agents need all the support they can get to resolve customer queries on the first call. And to do that, they need an AI-powered agent assist.

Agent assists continuously scan agent-customer interactions and surface referential resources, like the knowledge base articles and FAQ pages. This enables agents to resolve a query in seconds, thereby improving one call resolution rates, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), and average response times (ART) at scale.

Some features of a dependable AI-powered agent assist include:

  • Automation of manual actions such as post-call summary, callback scheduling and reminders, notification emails, etc.

  • Comprehensive customer query context analysis to highlight similar cases, and suggest knowledge base articles, FAQs pages, and guided workflows.

  • Real-time CSAT update based on agent-customer interaction.

  • Seamless escalation to the available supervisor whenever required.

    Sprinklr Care Console highlighting AI agent assist.

5. Deploy skill-based call routing

Customer service is all about reducing customer effort when they look for answers to their queries. But poor routing may not help the cause because it hampers customer experience.

Skill-based call routing connects customers to agents with the requisite skills to resolve their queries efficiently during the first call.

These skills vary from industry to industry and can include (but not limited to):

  • Industry experience — years of experience an agent has in handling customer queries

  • Language proficiency — an agent’s proficiency in a particular language

  • Field expertise — an agent’s expertise in handling technical queries

    Skill-based routing during a support call based on language.

6. Provide thorough agent training

Your agents need proper training to resolve customer queries on the first call.

It is also important that you equip them with the relevant resources — knowledge base articles or product tutorials — and ensure that they are well-versed with your products.

Here are some additional agent skills you should focus on improving:

  • Problem-solving: understand customer problems and needs and provide a relevant solution.

  • Patience & empathy: listening to customer queries patiently and letting them know your brand cares about them.

  • Clear communication: communicate solutions clearly and concisely.

  • Cross-platform query handling: ability to help customers across channels such as phone, live chat, and social media.

Don’t worry, if training agents gets overwhelming at times, an AI agent assist will help your agents handle customer queries efficiently.

7. Follow up with your unhappy customers

While following up with customers wouldn’t improve your one call resolution rate overnight, this is something every business should do to demonstrate that they care about their customers. Data suggests that 68% of customers leave a company that doesn't care about them.

Major reasons why customers switch a brand or service.

Sending follow-up emails to unhappy customers helps you understand their frustrations and identify opportunities to improve your customer service and offerings.

Besides, following up diligently with unhappy customers can make them feel valued and show them that your business places customers before profits.

Here’s one final tip that works not just for first call resolution but every other KPI out there: don’t adopt the above methods to improve FCR rates and bet on them to perform optimally forever. Instead, you should continually monitor the performance of these best practices and make incremental changes from time to time to achieve a high FCR rate.

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