First call resolution (FCR) is a call center KPI that directly impacts Customer Experience. Given the central importance of customer experience (CX) in a business’s success, it is critical to build call center practices that support CX and FCR. According to data pulled from a Walker Study, CX will be the single most important component of the buyer's journey by 2020 - outweighing the importance of price and product to become the key to brand differentiation.

No wonder CX leaders are focused on call center KPIs like FCR, net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), customer satisfaction (CSAT). It is clear that improving FCR, translates into a better customer experience with improved NPS, CES, and CSAT.

What is First Call Resolution?

FCR is the percentage of calls, chats, or emails, that solve the customer's needs, produces a sale, or completes any other customer transaction with one agent, in one session, without elevating to a manager, or require any callbacks or follow up.

Creating and deploying a strategic approach to improve FCR can dramatically improve CX. This paper explores the impact of FCR on business and then points to 7 must-know tips for achieving a better FCR in your call center.

Measuring FCR and it’s Business Impact

Measuring the FCR KPI has a two-fold benefit -- firstly, it provides call centers with an in-depth look at customer frustration levels and secondly, the corporate effort to improve the overall CX.

When you deploy strategies that enhance FCR, call volume will be reduced. Callers' inquiries are handled during the initial contact, meaning you spend less time attending to ongoing interactions. You'll receive higher NPS scores, which is essential to customer retention. Callers will leave the call with a positive impression of your brand and will enjoy knowing they can contact you to have their inquiries addressed quickly.

Improving the FCR rate can also save money and time. Take for example if a call center handles an average of 2,000 calls per week. And the FCR rate is 65%, meaning 35% of the calls require ongoing responses. By improving the FCR rate to 75%, you will have approximately 200 fewer calls a week; that's 10,400 fewer calls each year. Reducing the number of calls saves the contact center time and money and it allows for better resource allocation.

Another component of FCR is measuring how many sales-related activities are handled during the first call. Ask any sales agent and they will attest to the vitality of enhanced sales FCR. It moves the customer through the buyer's journey to make a purchase.

With poor Sales FCR, friction prevails and hurts sales. Sales cycles are elongated, customers are frustrated and deals are lost. By providing your agents with solutions to sell and serve in the first call, businesses can drive sales, reduce service and improve customer satisfaction.

7 Tips for Improving FCR

1. Pinpoint Your Issues

Conduct a root cause analysis in addition to an FCR analysis to pinpoint the root causes of why agents are not meeting the needs of customers. The data produced from the analysis will help you identify trends and patterns. From here you can use your findings to make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency and increase first call resolution.

During the root cause analysis, look for the following:

  • Why are calls being transferred? Are they coming into the wrong department
  • when the customer calls in?
  • Why are calls being escalated to managers?
  • Are the agents repeating back information to ensure they understand the problem at hand?
  • Why are interactions taking across various channels? Can the customer not normally get through when phoning in?
  • What reasons are customers giving for not being satisfied?
  • Are there technical limitations of the channels where the call originated from?
  • Are there complex processes that require F/U and alternative channels to be accessed to resolve the customer inquiry?

2. Give Your Agents the Right Training, Tools, and Resources

With omnichannel tools like a live chat and collaboration solution and robust call center software, your agents work with customers across channels. They can review customer information stemming from all contact channels, including social media, phone, email, website, etc. By reviewing such data, it becomes much easier to develop a clearer understanding of the customer's inquiry boosting FCR.

It is important that your agent’s core channels have the capability to resolve customer issues in the first session. For example, the agent can collaborate in real time with the customer, sharing relevant product information, eforms, terms and conditions, esignature, and payments all while on the phone, and even while the customer is on their mobile. This makes the entire customer experience easier and allows the agent to solve the problem or complete the sale in the first call.

An omnichannel approach to handling customer calls, however, can hurt FCR when agents don’t understand how to utilize all resources and tools given to them, and when customers have to be moved to another channel to complete a transaction. Essentially omnichannel solutions fail when they don’t meet the customer’s or the agent’s expectations.

Training must be provided to agents ensure they understand how to properly use omnichannel tools. Teaching call handling best practices is vital to improving FCR. You should create a knowledge base that agents can tap into that answers all of their questions.To really improve FCR, agents should be equipped with tools that give them the ability to share visualizations, allow the customer to attach images, eForms, and eSignatures, as well as simple and secure payment solutions.

3. Create Customer Profiles

As we just mentioned, you need to give agents full access to customer data. You'll want to do this by creating customer profiles. It's usually best to divide your customers into groups according to certain characteristics, like location or average income. Or if preferred, you can divide them according to the products they purchase.

After you have segmented your customers, you'll then dive into identifying the most common needs of each group and then creating solutions to these needs. Train your agents on how to employ those solutions and your FCR will be greatly improved. More importantly, the CX becomes better.

4. Reward Your Agents

Enticing your agents to improve their FCR rate becomes much simpler when you reward them. Create an incentive program that rewards them each time they hit a predetermined requisite number. Rewards can come in the form of promotions and bonuses. As agents improve their FCR, customer satisfaction levels increase as well.

5. Repeat Information

To ensure customers understand how their need is going to be met, agents should repeat the resolution and then ask if the customer understands how the issue is going to be resolved. This results in clear lines of communication and improves FCR.

6. Invest in Automation

Your call center software needs to integrate with your CRM and other software programs to ensure data is automatically updated when a customer makes a purchase or calls in. This not only automates relevant tasks, but it ensures agents have access to real-time customer data. This reduces customer frustration and improves the CX because agents can see cases and events in real-time, which produces a real-time understanding of the issue at hand.

7. Use a Skill-Based Routing Strategy

Customers don't mind their calls being transferred once as long as it directs them to an agent who can resolve the issue. Your agents should be categorized according to their knowledge, skills, and department. This ensures calls are being transferred to the most appropriate person the first time around, which expedites the handling of the call and improves FCR and customers satisfaction.

Customers want speedy answers to their inquiries. Ideally, all tasks related to resolving the customer's inquiry should be able to take place over the phone in the first contact. Redirecting customers to other channels not only hurts sales, balloons costs but also hurts customers. By adopting in-channel resolution capabilities, businesses can streamline your operations and resolving the inquiry during the initial contact. This is important to creating a business-building CX. The tips mentioned above are all great starting points for delivering a better CX and improving FCR.

Lightico specializes in helping call centers improve FCR rate. Agents are trained to mitigate transferring calls by enabling them to address the customer’s needs in the first interaction.

Ready to see how Lightico can improve FCR? Request a Demo

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