First call resolution, otherwise referred to as FCR, is defined as the ability to resolve a customer’s issue or service request within the first contact they make to a company. According to GetVoIP, “67% of customers would have stayed with a company if that business had been able to resolve their customer service issues on the first interaction.” Whether the support request is a call into a contact center, website inquiry, chat or email, FCR is a pivotal metric in tracking and optimizing customer satisfaction. Improving first call resolution is vital to the success of a support department, and business, for five reasons.
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1. Costs and first call resolution
Every interaction that a business has with an existing customer is an opportunity for keeping costs down and increasing profitability. For every minute that passes on a support call with a customer, costs are increasing and so are the risks of losing that customer, which could have a greater detrimental impact than the cost of an increased time on call.
The potential increased costs of losing an existing customer because of their dissatisfaction should be a reason in and of itself to create a culture of improving first call resolution. No one likes having to reach out to a company multiple times because of unresolved issues. The more contacts that your customers have to make to get their issues solved, the greater the risk of them turning to your competitors.
According to a survey conducted by Invesp, it costs roughly five times more to acquire a new customer than what it costs to retain a new one. To keep a customer retention rate high and create a cost-efficient customer service department, it is recommended to strive for a first call resolution of at least 75%.
2. Customer satisfaction and first call resolution
The faster that companies can resolve tech support inquiries, the better the customer satisfaction. By supporting customers with the answers they are looking for on their first interactions, a company can build long lasting and happy customer relationships.
Questions that can help improve customer satisfaction
In order to get to this point, contact center representatives must fully understand the context of a customer’s problem to know how to best guide them to solve their inquiry. Some information to uncover could include:
- What device or app is the customer inquiring about?
- What version of an operating system is a customer using? Do they know where to go to find this information?
- What is the customer looking to achieve?
- Did the customer attempt to solve the problem on their own first?
- If so, did the customer go to the right places to find the solution they were looking for?
Uncovering the correct information to the questions above will provide the contact center agent with enough specific detail to increase the likelihood of a successful first call resolution. It will also help the customer in knowing where to go in the future to find the answers they are seeking via digital channels, rather than submitting a contact center inquiry. This is otherwise known as self-serve support.
3. Customer self-serve support and first call resolution
First calls are a great opportunity to rewire a customer’s behavior to engage in self-serve support in the future. For example, at the end of a successful call with a customer, a contact center agent can make a customer aware of where to find step-by-step tutorials to solve questions on their own. These locations might include websites, account apps or chatbots.
If a first call resolution is not achieved, a customer may become more frustrated and not be in a positive headspace to retain information about the support channels that are available to them. Having customers rely on search engines or calls into a contact center instead of discovering the answers on their own via a business’s digital channels is costly, potentially inaccurate and inefficient.
Verizon Wireless was able to improve first call resolution rate by 1.5% because of implementing new, self-support tools and placing a greater emphasis within the organization on building a positive agent experience. First calls, when successful, are a great opportunity for agents to drive digital transformation at their business by encouraging customers to pursue self-serve support for the inevitable future support inquiries they will have, which will deflect any additional calls and save money.
4. Agent happiness and first call resolution
If a business has a higher first call resolution rate, it is most likely equipping its contact center agents and other tech support employees with the right resources. If an agent is unfamiliar with a device or app that a customer is inquiring about, they might need to have repeated interactions with that customer to allow for more time to find the right answer.
To help increase first call resolution, contact center agents should have the right tools in place so they won’t have to spend a lot of time searching for accurate information. Within seconds of customers providing context about the issue they are experiencing, agents should know where to go to provide an immediate and effective response. Agents should have quick access to the latest and most up-to-date details about the technology they are supporting.
If they don’t, not only will the customer be left unsatisfied, but an agent’s happiness might take a turn for the worse. Contact center agents have high attrition rates as it is and not to mention, being a productive contact center agent is hard work as agents are often interacting with disgruntled customers. If an agent doesn’t have good support tools, they might become discouraged about hitting their performance targets and feel unhappy, which could result in them leaving the organization.
Spending time on the right kinds of inquiries
Instead of being bogged down with repetitive requests, improved first call resolution rates mean that agents will have more time freed up to spend on complex requests. As an example, instead of agents spending a lot of time on helping customers connect to wifi, they will be able to give more attention to topics that need it, like ensuring that a customer’s many connected home devices are all set up and synced properly to a centralized control app. We all want to feel motivated and fulfilled at work; therefore, effective, complex problem solving can be a way of achieving it.
5. Brand equity and first call resolution
Some companies differentiate themselves by having an effective customer support strategy. Brands that might come to mind that prioritize the customer experience include T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular and Verizon Wireless, to name a few. Improving first call resolution can be a way of building this level of strong brand equity.
Digital customer experience survey
In a customer experience survey that TELUS International conducted to over 1,000 U.S. citizens in April 2022, long wait times were the top “pet peeve” (32%) of the respondents, followed by not having the option to speak with a human (25%) and numerous transfers to different individuals (25%).
When analyzing the survey results, Maria Pardee, chief commercial officer at TELUS International recommends that contact center agents have “valuable data-driven insights to personalize and streamline customer-brand interactions, and by introducing the right digital channels, from social media to live chat, companies can meet their customers’ needs today and into the future.”
by introducing the right digital channels, from social media to live chat, companies can meet their customers’ needs today and into the future.Maria Pardee, Chief Commercial Officer at TELUS International
Every interaction with a customer is a chance to reshape or build a positive brand association. It might take a long time before a brand is known for great customer service, but it can pay dividends in the long run as there will be less pressure to compete in the marketplace on price or product mix. Reducing long wait times and transfers, aka increasing first call resolution, can be a first step in building brand equity around customer service.
Getting started with first call resolution
A high first call resolution rate can have a major positive impact on your customer satisfaction scores as well as your company’s ability to maintain a loyal customer base. Solving a customer’s issue on the first interaction removes the need for any future callbacks and reduces friction for your customers. By providing answers to customers efficiently and consistently, your contact center can significantly improve FCR and decrease the number of customer callbacks entering the queue.