First Contact Resolution

Learn everything about First Contact Resolution — definition, formula, optimization strategies, challenges, and more.

Ruchi Madan
November 13, 2021
6 min read
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What is First Contact Resolution?

First Contact Resolution rate or FCR rate is a metric that measures the percentage of customer cases that are resolved by a contact center in the first contact itself. FCR is an important indicator of your contact center team’s success rate.

Often, First Contact Resolution is used interchangeably with First Call Resolution, which is incorrect. While First Contact Resolution measures the resolution rate across all customer-facing touchpoints, First Call Resolution is used only for voice channels and customer calls.

Why is measuring FCR important?

For contact centers, there are a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure operational efficiency, customer satisfaction (CSAT), and agent productivity. Out of those metrics, FCR stands out since it directly indicates the quality of customer experience you deliver via support.

A high FCR rate means your support team is able to resolve a good number of cases in the first contact — without requiring follow-up from customers. For customers, prompt issue resolution (in one interaction) is the topmost concern when they reach out to a support agent.

First contact resolution -FCR

Source: Microsoft

It’s the age of self-service. Customers prefer to help themselves. When they are forced to seek external help, it’s not out of choice. In fact, it’s the first step toward escalation. Businesses can make the process as painless as possible by ensuring their support teams are equipped to resolve customer issues quickly. That is the best way to avoid churn, improve customer satisfaction, and maintain brand loyalty.

In short, a high FCR rate helps your business:

  • Retain customers: Satisfied customers are more prone to repeat business with sales, referrals, and positive testimonials.

  • Improve agent morale: When agents are able to address customer requests efficiently, their productivity and overall morale improves.

  • Gain a competitive advantage: Satisfied customers are less likely to go to your competitors or vent on social media about your business.

  • Decrease cost: FCR eliminates the need for repeated callbacks that can cost your business money in labor overhead and lost productivity.

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Types of FCR and how to measure them

Certain customer issues can’t be addressed remotely by your contact center agents. For instance, requests for hardware installation or infrastructural changes. Do these requests negatively impact your FCR?

To answer that question, you need to understand the concept of net and gross FCR measurement.

Gross FCR rate

Gross FCR makes no allowance for customer requests that can’t be resolved by your agents. It computes FCR by including all kinds of incoming contacts.

The formula for calculating gross FCR is:

First contact resolution - Gross FCR

Net FCR rate

Net FCR factors in incidents that can’t be resolved at the agent level or remotely.

The formula for calculating net FCR is:

First contact resolution - FCR

Net FCR is a more accurate metric for contact centers to monitor. Gross FCR often presents a distorted picture of a contact center’s efficiency and agent productivity.

While the formula for calculating FCR is fairly straightforward, it can be tricky to collect data pertinent to it. For example, how do you segregate cases into “resolved” or “unresolved” buckets unless customers tell you whether or not their requests are addressed?

For data collection, you can apply one of the conventional methods below, or use AI-led data and speech analytics. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.

Conventional data collection methods

  1. Asking customers on a call: Your agents can ask the customer on a call if their concern has been satisfactorily resolved. There can be dedicated advisors for asking these questions.

  2. Customer feedback: Using email and post-call surveys, you can gauge customer satisfaction level. This method is useful as you can gather additional feedback from customers, not only just resolution numbers.

  3. No repeat call-backs or follow-up: If a customer doesn’t call back with the same question/concern within a specific timeframe (for example, 10 days), it’s safe to assume their case is resolved. This is by far the most popular data collection method, according to a recent webinar survey:

    First contact resoultion - Call center helper

    Source: Call Center Helper

  4. Track repeat call-back reasons: You can identify reasons for repeat call-backs from your CRM solution, and then compute FCR scores for each of these reasons. This method helps identify FCR challenges at the case level

  5. Use contact center intelligence for identifying individual contact reasons: Pick your top 10-15 contact reasons, and then tackle them one at a time by using analytics to chart call flows and volumes around them on a dashboard. You can pull data from your customer relationship management (CRM) system, social media, company website, etc. This method helps you drill down into each contact reason and the causal factors behind it, breaking down FCR at a granular level.

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Proven strategies to improve FCR

Since FCR impacts your customers and agents alike, you should focus on maximizing it by applying the strategies below:

Benchmark your FCR

First, you need to analyze where your FCR rate lies as compared to industry benchmarks, but that’s easier said than done. FCR rates vary widely by industry, time of the year, and type of call center.

However, standard industry benchmarks set FCR rate in the range of 41% to 94%, with 74% being the industry average. At the lower end are service desks that perform routine tasks like “log-and-dispatch.” At the higher end are contact centers with highly trained agents and robust knowledge base resources that enable quick issue resolution.

Diagnose the root cause of delayed FCR

Next, you need to understand the operational inefficiencies and knowledge gaps that are responsible for pulling down your FCR. To detect these flaws, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are customers hopping channels?

  • Why aren’t customers happy with the first resolution?

  • To whom are customers being transferred?

To find these answers, examine your call records and customer feedback. You can also debrief your agents to get their first-hand experience with customers and use that information to analyze what went wrong, and where.

Build a robust knowledge base

An exhaustive knowledge base is one of the foundational pillars of your customer support strategy. It enables customers to quickly find answers to their common questions. And if your knowledge base content is well-written, customers might never need to seek agent support a second time.

While building your knowledge base, ensure that you:

  • Include a variety of resources — tutorials, feature articles, and videos — in order to cater to consumers with varied tastes, needs, and levels of experience.

  • Tag and organize resources correctly so people can access them easily.

  • Include content that is accurate, readable, and updated at all times.

Analyze and pre-empt customer needs

You need to watch your customers closely to detect the issues they face while using your product/services the first time. Gradually, over time, you will be able to anticipate issues even before they arise and nip them in the bud — boosting your FCR in the process.

To do this, you need to analyze customers’ post-call feedback and log their frustrations. You can leverage an AI-powered help desk software to generate these insights and bring down your FCR dramatically.

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Minimize circle time

The key to high FCR is quick issue resolution. For that, you can deploy smart routing and workflows so customers don’t have to jump through hoops to get to their desired solution. When customers are routed to agents with the requisite skills in the first contact, their issues are resolved efficiently and FCR is maintained.

For efficient case management, your routing should be:

  • Omnichannel

  • Intent-based

  • Data-driven

Train your agents well

If you want to improve your FCR, coaching your agents is a good place to start. Your agents should not only be well-versed with the product, they should also be expert at customer handling. They should be trained rigorously in dealing with agitated customers and volatile use cases.

It’s also wise to cross-train your agents so that they can handle cases that fall outside their scope when needed. Moreover, arm them with all troubleshooting SOPs so they can provide prompt and accurate responses without having to hunt for information.

Empower your support agents

Ensure that your internal policies are not hindering your agents from solving problems in the first interaction. If your protocol demands agents to seek approval from supervisors, it can result in delayed FCR and frustration on the part of the agent and customer. Consider reviewing complex processes and empowering your agents with authority to respond at their discretion.

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Leverage Sprinklr’s AI-powered solutions to boost FCR by 72%

With more and more support channels opening up, contact volume has increased exponentially. At the same time, customer expectations with regard to issue resolution is at an all-time high. Often, companies are unable to meet these heightened demands with traditional contact center systems and solutions.

Sprinklr’s contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution is the answer. Powered by the world’s only unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, it can help you deliver prompt, proactive, and seamless support and delight your customers. The advanced AI solution helps you optimize your FCR with:

  • Agent Assist tools to generate fast, personalized responses in real time

  • Smart routing to match cases with agents that have the right skills, capacity, and availability

  • AI-led screening of incoming calls to identify top call drivers

  • 360-degree view of customers by gleaning insights from 30+ modern channels

Start your free trial of Sprinklr Service

Find out how Sprinklr helps businesses deliver a premium experience on 13+ channels, using foundational AI so you can listen, route, resolve, and measure — across the customer experience.

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