First-Call Resolutions Are Improving

Most companies that measure first-call resolution (FCR) enjoy improvement in handling customer contacts in a single session, according to "Achieving First Call Resolution 2006," a new report from the Ascent Group. The report says that 62 percent of those who measure experienced improvement, while only 10 percent saw no improvement. The others weren't able to determine the gain. Improvements measured ranged from 2 percent to 50 percent, averaging a 12 percent gain annually. Fourteen percent of respondents indicated that their FCR performance had stabilized. Companies use four primary ways to measure FCR: Call statistic calculations (internal measure); agent-driven call logging or tick sheet (internal measure); call quality monitoring (internal determination) and customer satisfaction surveys (external measure), according to the report. "More and more companies are measuring first-call resolution," says Christine Kozlosky, vice president of Ascent Group. She also cites an increase from 85 percent of survey respondents a year ago to 86 percent in 2006. "But they are [measuring it] in so many different ways, the results are still in the state of flux." For example, agent-driven logging is likely to differ from customer satisfaction surveys. Twenty-one percent of respondents rely on two or more measures of first-call resolution. Only 7 percent measure first call resolution by call type. The remainder measure FCR for all call types. "Improving first-call resolution is important in determining the performance of the call center," Kozlosky says. "If 80 percent of the calls are handled the first time, that means 20 percent of the calls are for customers calling back." Companies that are the most successful in FCR follow a few basic strategies, Kozlosky says. "The top item was communicating performance and results throughout the organization so that people know how important [FCR is] and know the impact that it's having." The best companies also had focused training efforts for new hires or existing staffers to help them achieve first-call resolution. These training sessions stress follow-up tools and reminders with a well-developed coaching process, Kozlosky says. Companies that are improving their FCR results focus on general process improvement, providing call center agents with more tools and knowledge-based content so that they can handle a customer's needs while on the phone, rather than requiring a follow-up call, Kozlosky says. "The next important thing is that they try to change agents' behaviors, making them more aware of how they can [resolve] the call." Related articles: Tapping Operational Data to Reduce Costs and Build Customer Loyalty
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