Dale Holub

FCR in the Age of AI

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First call resolution, or FCR, has long been the gold standard of contact center metrics, probably because it’s a true test of your center’s efficiency. Now that the focus is shifting to include your customers’ contacts made digitally with automated systems, FCR is not only more difficult to achieve, but even more relevant because it is tied to your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty, as well as agent efficiency and your overall profitability.

Statistics demonstrating the importance of FCR go on for pages, but here are just a few:

  • According to Service Quality Measurement Group, on average, every 1 percent improvement in first call resolution leads to a 1 percent improvement in customer satisfaction.
  • CEB Global found that 94 percent of customers who have a low-effort service experience will buy from that same company again.
  • Customer Relationship Metrics reported that caller satisfaction ratings for the brand as well as the agent are 35 to 45 percent lower when a second call is required for the same issue.

There is a clear inverse relationship between customer satisfaction ratings and how much effort they feel they had to make to get their issue resolved – and you will note customers aren’t differentiating by channel. But you can! Track FCR across all your channels – chat, email, social media, web and mobile – to develop your benchmarks and to gain insight into how your service differs by channel. At this point it may help to specify how first contact resolution is best defined for your contact center: What exactly are you trying to infer from this metric, and what are your acceptable margins?

The Dual Role of Automation

Your benchmarking process will likely highlight the fact that today’s customer service automation can both help and hinder your brand’s pursuit of quality FCR. Through self-service FAQs, chatbots and IVR just for starters, the customer journey can easily wend its way through several channels and become both time-consuming and unwieldy before your customer ever gets to a live person. Further, journey tracking and data collection becomes more complicated with every channel introduced, even when the customer issue is the same. Finally, customers are starting to “channel surf” in an effort to most quickly resolve their issue – for instance, they’ll have a web FAQ open while they simultaneously work their way through the IVR and post to your company’s social media page.

All this means that the goal for first contact resolution is to streamline customer interactions to not only minimize call transfers, but also to reduce the number of channels used.

Maximize Your Center’s FCR and Automation

Now let’s talk about how automation can benefit FCR. To begin, just how proactive are your digital self-service functions? Make sure the topics of your most frequent customer inquiries are well covered and easy to find. Have your teams keep an eye out for any patterns that suggest an operational system or process is causing some sort of widespread customer issue and encourage your teams to regularly pass this information along to management for resolution.

No matter the channel, train your agents to…

  • Anticipate follow-ups and provide customers enough information to proactively resolve any potential issues. This includes closing out each call by asking each customer if there is anything else they need help with. It may sound counterproductive to the commonly stated goal of valuing a customer’s time but, in reality, taking a bit more time on the first call will save everyone’s time later by eliminating the need for a second or third call.
  • Be transparent with customers. This means being honest and clear with information, even when it’s less than positive. This transparency increases your agents’ credibility and decreases the chance the customer will call back in an effort to get better information from a supervisor or a different, “better informed” agent.

Upgrade Your Tech Solutions

One effective FCR strategy is to address the common frustration of waiting on hold. A solution like VHT Callback informs callers of their expected wait time and provides them the option of scheduling a callback from an agent. This greatly enhances the overall customer experience, maximizes agent efficiency and helps prevents spikes in call volume.

In addition, digital callback solutions ensure customers receive a consistent, positive experience across all company communication channels, decreasing their frustration and thereby increasing brand loyalty.


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