FCR or First Contact Resolution is a metric that can drastically improve customer experience when used appropriately. However, it comes with a few drawbacks and traps you have to watch out for.

What is First Contact Resolution?

FCR is a metric that calculates the portion of tickets or calls that are solved by agents in just one contact with the customer. In other words, if a customer calls, emails or has a chat with a customer support representative, and their problem is solved with only one reply that counts as a first contact resolution. It also goes by the name of first call resolution or one-touch resolution.

Metrics for customer service: How do I measure FCR?

Calculating first contact resolution percentage is rather easy – take the total number of requests you’ve received and divide that by the number of requests that are successfully solved in only one contact. You can rule out the requests that potentially could be resolved in a single contact (e.g. your product is in beta phase and the bug occurred)

Why is it important?

FCR is undoubtedly important. Everyone wants a fast solution: Customers don’t like to wait, customer support specialists want to solve problems as fast as possible and companies want satisfied customers. An increase in FCR rate is followed by a decrease in operational costs and an improvement in CSAT and employee happiness. Three-quarters of companies that increased their FCR also noticed an improvement in customer satisfaction as well as operational cost.

What are some ways to improve first contact resolution rates?

There are ways to improve FCR rate. To put it simply, you’d need to find out what are the main reasons that require longer interaction with the customer and work on them. A few suggestions to improve first contact resolution rates:

  • Enable customer service reps to rely on their skills and instincts
  • Provide training and required tools to improve the efficiency of your agents
  • Improve the product and common issues customers face regularly

All right, so what’s the downside to FCR?

Having a low FCR rate is not a good sign. Improving it will certainly have a positive impact on customer satisfaction. However, focusing on first contact resolution and relying only on that metric can cause other problems that may not be noticeable at first sight.

Few things you must always bear in mind:

  • Customer failure: Giving the right instructions does not necessarily mean that the customer will be able to solve the problem. Not everyone has the same focus, knowledge or skill to follow instructions and they might create a new problem in the process of solving the first one. Even though it seems like two separate issues, to a customer it is the same problem.
  • The rabbit hole: Some problems have more than one solution, and a customer may focus strictly on one way to solve the problem and fail. Again, they’d come to you for help. You might measure it as two separate cases, but to a customer, it’s the same problem that won’t go away.
  • Self-service fails: Extremely high FCR rate may mean that your knowledge base is not doing its primary function – to help customers.
  • Short-sighted incentives: If you put a pressure on customer support agents to increase FCR they might do just that, without investigating the problem deeper.

So what do I do about it?

This may sound like quoting some ancient philosopher but bear with me for this one. Before seeking the answer, try to ask the right question. In other words, instead of focusing on solving the current problem right there and at that moment, try to find out what do you need to do to make sure the customer will not call again with the next question.

Here are some other tips:

  • Play the prediction game. Get in your customer’s’ shoes for a moment (remember, not everyone is computer savvy) and see what problems they might face while following your instructions. Provide the solution in advance to help them get over trickier steps.
  • Agents need to think and ask about the reasons why and what a customer wants to do.
  • Examine your FCR results. See which questions are frequent and see if you can implement the solution into the knowledge base.
  • Don’t count follow-ups as another contact. If a customer contacts you again within a short period of time it is probably for the same reason. Make notes on why are customers calling back to ask for additional help and include them in the first contact.
  • All metrics matter. Don’t focus only on FCR while ignoring customer satisfaction, customer experience, and employee satisfaction.

These steps and tips are a great guide to help you increase both customer and employee satisfaction. That is the best case scenario we aim for, right?