OI Blog


Peter Iansek

CEO & Co-Founder

Peter Iansek


Oct 2023
OI Blog
Oct 2023

First Contact Resolution: How to Improve Your FCR Score While Maintaining Great CX

First Contact Resolution: How to Improve Your FCR Score While Maintaining Great CX
Peter Iansek


Peter Iansek

CEO & Co-Founder

Table of Contents:

  • What is First Contact Resolution == First Contact Resolution
  • Benefits of a Great First Contact Resolution Metric == Benefits of a Great First Contact Resolution Metric
  • What is the FCR Industry Standard == FCR Industry Standard
  • How to Measure FCR == How to Measure FCR
  • Challenges of Improving First Contact Resolution == Challenges of Improving First Contact Resolution
  • How to Improve First Contact Resolution Rates == How to Improve First Contact Resolution Rates
  • Manage Your First Contact Resolution == Manage Your First Contact Resolution

What is First Contact Resolution?

FCR is a call and contact center metric that measures the ability of a business or contact center to resolve customer issues or inquiries during the initial interaction or first contact. It gauges whether a customer's problem was adequately addressed, resolved, or answered without the need for subsequent follow-up contacts.

Why is FCR Important?

When customer concerns are resolved quickly and effectively in a single interaction, it saves them time, effort, and frustration. It also demonstrates that the business values its customers’ time, has appropriate service skills and capabilities,  and is committed to providing a positive customer experience.

On the company's side, a great FCR can save time for agents since it reduces the need for agents to handle multiple callbacks from customers, who are typically the most frustrated with their experience.  This allows agents to allocate their efforts toward assisting other customers, leading to increased productivity. Agents also experience higher job satisfaction when they can meet customer expectations.

The Service Quality Measurement Group found that for every 1 percent increase in FCR, a company can also expect a 1 percent increase in customer satisfaction. The same research from SQM found that increasing FCR by 1 percent improves employee satisfaction by 1 to 5 percent and reduces customer support operating costs by 1 percent.

Benefits of a Great First Contact Resolution Metric

customer contact interaction
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Resolving issues in the first contact minimizes customer effort and frustration, leading to higher levels of satisfaction. When customers feel their problems are quickly addressed, it boosts their confidence in the company's ability to meet their needs.
  • Increased Customer Loyalty: Positive experiences with FCR contribute to higher customer loyalty and retention. Customers who have their issues resolved promptly are more likely to remain loyal to the brand and recommend it to others.
  • Cost Savings: FCR helps reduce operational costs by minimizing the need for additional follow-up contacts, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. By resolving issues in a single interaction, businesses can optimize their workforce and allocate resources more efficiently.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency: FCR is an indicator of process efficiency and effectiveness. It highlights the ability of contact center agents and customer service representatives to handle customer inquiries promptly and accurately. This efficiency translates into streamlined workflows, reduced average handling times, and improved overall productivity.

What is the FCR Industry Standard?

The industry standard for FCR varies depending on the industry and type of customer interactions. For example, customer complaints in the medical field may have a lower FCR than inquiries for a restaurant delivery system. 

What is a Good FCR Rate?

Around 70 to 79 percent of customer issues are successfully resolved without the need for the  customer to make additional interactions with the call center. Plus, only 5% of contact centers are consistently scoring an 80% or higher FCR. Therefore, most businesses strive to meet or exceed the 70 to 80% benchmark. 

However, FCR scores don’t occur in a vacuum. It’s important to look at this KPI in relation to other contact center metrics to ensure that resolving a customer query quickly isn’t negatively impacting the quality of service, customer satisfaction, or customer effort scores.

How to Measure FCR

Contact centers can measure their FCR in several ways: 

Asking Customers on a Call: Before the call ends, an agent can directly ask the customer if their query was resolved satisfactorily. 

Surveys and Customer Feedback: Directly ask customers if their issue was resolved through post-call surveys, email surveys, or online feedback forms. 

No Repeat Calls within a Timeframe: This approach assumes that if a customer does not make another call within a specific timeframe, typically ten days, their query has been resolved.

Analysis of Repeat Contact Reasons: This involves extracting repeat contact reasons from your CRM system and creating individual FCR scores for each reason. When a customer contacts you regarding a specific issue that you aim to address, you can either ask them if their query has been resolved or track repeat contacts to calculate a unique FCR score for that issue.

FCR Formula

The FCR formula is relatively straightforward and is calculated by dividing the number of issues resolved on the first contact by the total number of customer interactions and multiplying the result by 100 to express it as a percentage. 

The formula is as follows:

First Contact Resolution Rate = (Number of issues resolved on first contact / Total number of customer interactions) * 100

For example, if a call center handled 1,000 customer interactions and successfully resolved 800 of them on the first contact, the FCR rate would be calculated as:

FCR Rate = (800 / 1,000) * 100 = 80%

The Easiest Way to Measure FCR

Operative Intelligence determines FCR for each query by automatically analyzing 100% of inbound interactions.

Instead of manually asking customers or sending out surveys with limited response rates, the Operative Intelligence platform harnesses the power of AI-driven customer insights to uncover the true essence of your customers' needs. The software evaluates 100% of inbound data across multiple channels to:

Instead of manually asking customers or sending out surveys with limited response rates, the Operative Intelligence platform harnesses the power of AI-driven customer insights to uncover the true essence of your customers' needs. The software evaluates 100% of inbound data across multiple channels to: 

  •  Unveil the precise reasons behind customer interactions, capturing their words and providing information on call volume, resolution, and customer satisfaction for every inquiry.
  • Assess FCR and CSAT for 100% of agent interactions, eliminating the need for traditional surveys. This enables you to identify the specific inquiries where agents excel and pinpoint areas requiring improvement.
  • Delve deep into the root causes of customer pain points, facilitating the identification of inquiries that can be effectively resolved through self-service options and at first contact. 

Challenges of Improving First Contact Resolution 

While it’s important to improve FCR, call and contact centers should be aware of the potential limitations in how FCR is measured within their organization. 

Measure FCR the Right Way

Many contact centers rely on customer feedback or surveys to measure FCR. These methods have inherent limitations that can compromise the accuracy and reliability of the results. Surveys suffer from low response rates of about 4 to 12 percent, which result in small sample sizes that do not accurately represent customer sentiment. 

Moreover, surveys do not link FCR to underlying drivers of customer contact or provide context to the customer’s query.  If businesses can’t get actionable insights into why customers are contacting them in real time, they will always be a step behind customer expectations. 

Rather than solely relying on surveys or manually asking customers, businesses should consider implementing modern call center analytics platforms that can capture the context behind FCR metrics. For example, when using Operative Intelligence, your business gets real-time insights into: 

  • The root cause reasons why customers contact support at scale is what each pain point costs the business 
  • Insights by inquiry driver: volume, cost, sentiment, satisfaction, resolution
  • What is driving increases in handle time and cost + how to fix it
  • Agent and team effectiveness (resolution + satisfaction) for 100% of inquiries

This additional data allows contact center leaders to not only measure FCR–but understand why they’re receiving these scores and what actionable steps they can take for improvement. 

Connecting Contacts

In today's customer service landscape, customers interact with businesses through various channels. Measuring FCR rates can be challenging when a customer initiates contact through one channel and then follows up or switches to another channel to address the same issue. 

Omnichannel contact center systems can help businesses seamlessly integrate different communication channels–allowing customers to switch between channels while maintaining continuity in their interactions. Customer service representatives can also access relevant information from previous interactions, regardless of the channel used. 

How to Improve First Contact Resolution Rates

With these potential limitations in mind, let’s explore strategies for improving FCR rates effectively.

1. Measure FCR the Right Way

Uncovering true customer sentiment is the key to effectively improving FCR rates. Customer feedback and surveys do not paint a complete picture of the entire interaction, and this ultimately impacts service quality. 

When these methods do not produce the intended results, executives may become skeptical of business cases derived from the data. Utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to pull and review irrefutable results can help address this skepticism and truly increase FCR rates based on reliable data.

FCR should also be measured and compared to metrics. You may have a lower FCR score but an incredibly high CSAT, which means your FCR score may be at the right level for your industry and inquiry type. Analyzing and correlating multiple customer service metrics like AHT, ASA, CSAT and agent effectiveness provides a more comprehensive view of the quality of service being provided.

2. Identify Contact Drivers with Low FCR

inquires chart
The Operative Intelligence platform can identify contact drivers for every inquiry type and their FCR rates (Averaged Predicted Resolution).

Rather than looking at FCR as a single metric for the entire customer service operation, it’s crucial to break it down by different contact drivers. Contact drivers can include specific types of inquiries, product-related issues, or service requests.

Prioritizing contact drivers with larger volumes can lead to the most significant impact on overall FCR rates. For example, if FCR is low for an inquiry that generates 10,000 contacts per month compared to another inquiry with only 500 contacts per month, improving FCR for the higher-volume contact driver will yield the most substantial improvements. 

Doing this manually would take years of analysis and investments…but the Operative Intelligence platform does it automatically in real time. The software analyzes 100% of customer contact drivers and inquiries and shows each agent's performance in terms of their corresponding AHT, FCR, and CSAT and shares: 

  • First Contact Resolution and Customer Satisfaction for 100% of agent interactions without surveys. Identify exactly which inquiries agents do well on and where they need to improve.
  • The exact reasons why customers are contacting in their own words in real-time including the volume, AHT, cost, satisfaction, and resolution of every inquiry.
  • Which inquiries types have the lowest and highest customer satisfaction and target specific areas of underperformance across the scale of your contacts. 
  • Which inquiries drive revenue, lifetime customer value, and retention based on the stated needs of your customers at scale.

Plus, it goes live in just two weeks–faster than any solution on the market.

3. Work with Individual Agents

Analyzing FCR performance at the individual agent and inquiry level can provide valuable insights into which agents may be facing difficulties in achieving satisfactory resolutions for specific contact drivers. 

Because some contact drivers are more complex than others, you’ll need to correlate your metrics again to get a standard satisfactory rate for the different inquiries. For example, it could be high FCR, high CSAT, and low Average Handle Time (AHT) for simple inquiries, or high FCR, high CSAT, and medium AHT for more complex queries. By understanding these performance benchmarks, call centers can focus their coaching efforts on agents who fall below the established standards, helping them improve their performance.

Agents with the highest FCR rates can serve as models to other agents who are struggling. Documenting and sharing their best practices among the customer service team can help call centers replicate their success. This can be accomplished through training sessions, knowledge-sharing platforms, or mentoring programs where agents can learn from their high-performing peers. 

It’s also important to review your current training program and knowledge base. This evaluation can help ensure that agents are always equipped with the updated resources to assist customers successfully.

4. Measure Metrics & Repeat

By consistently measuring results, evaluating performance, refining strategies, and iterating the process, contact centers can achieve sustainable improvements in FCR rates over time. Continuous monitoring and improvement ensure that FCR remains a focus and that the implemented strategies align with evolving customer needs and business objectives.

Manage Your First Contact Resolution

Improving first contact resolution rates is important–but only if you’re also maintaining or improving customer satisfaction, agent productivity, and other retention-supporting metrics.  

With Operative Intelligence, your agents and managers will have the automated insights they need to optimize their interactions and resolve customer issues more efficiently. The platform automates the FCR, AHT, and CSAT for 100% of agent interactions while also identifying the root cause of repeated contacts–so you can resolve the problem before your customers ever have to experience it. 

Ready to see changes at every level of the organization? 

Book your free demo with Operative Intelligence today.

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