• August 29, 2022
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

First-Contact Resolution Should Be a Higher Priority

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Among companies, first-contact resolution (FCR) was seen as the most important factor impacting customer experience, ContactBabel reported in its "Inner Circle Guide to First Contact Resolution," with 45 percent of respondents ranking it first and 37 percent more placing it within the top three. Among consumers, 46 percent of younger ones put first-contact resolution as one of their top three most important factors, and 69 percent of the oldest age group placed this in their top three.

But despite FCR's importance, when asked which metrics their senior management used to judge the success of their customer experience programs, only 4 percent of companies identified first-contact resolution. For comparison, revenue, Net Promoter Score, and customer satisfaction scores accounted for 65 percent of responses, followed by customer retention.

ContactBabel insists that FCR is an important metric to track but points out that doing so is not an easy task.

The reason first-contact resolution is so important is that it is concerned both with customers' experiences as well as avoiding unnecessary calls. However, it is very difficult to measure effectively. FCR, ContactBabel asserts, is best off measured in isolation as an internal metric rather than benchmarking it against competitors.

Not only are all businesses different, but within each business there can be large discrepancies in FCR between departments, depending on the complexity and nature of the interactions.

To develop a first-contact resolution improvement plan, ContactBabel suggests the following steps:

  • An FCR steering committee should agree on desired goals and outcomes.
  • Since FCR could negatively impact other metrics, such as call handling time, the relative importance of each metric to the contact center as a whole and individual departments, products, or services should be considered.
  • Consider ways in which FCR can be gamed by agents to make it appear that the metric is improving.
  • Agree on a robust methodology for calculating FCR and use it consistently over time.
  • Agree on methods to collect FCR data across channels.
  • Involve in the discussion other departments that could drive repeat calls, as they might need to change processes too.
  • Prepare to increase agent training as needed.
  • Plan for agent incentives and performance measurement to include FCR targets.
  • Consider realistic customer expectations for issue resolution to avoid any callbacks within an unrealistic amount of time.
  • Agree on how often to track and measure FCR rates.

First-contact resolution rates should also be tracked and analyzed in the context of the overall number of reopened interactions, ContactBabel recommends, noting that the first-contact resolution rate is likely to drop as simpler interactions become automated. Conversely, a change in the self-service system might be confusing to customers who feel the need to call in to have an agent handle what should be a simple matter.

But at the same time, companies must also avoid placing too much emphasis on improving FCR, which might lead some agents to game the system by using incorrect call disposition codes, for example.

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