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First Call Resolution Revisited
By Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., President of Human Technologies Global, Inc.

We all know first call resolution (one and done) is the #1 driver for customer satisfaction with best practices reported at 86%. However, this means that 14% of your customers are contacting you more than once (even more than twice or three times) to resolve their issues!

According to a recent Yankee Group study 30 – 35% of calls coming into the average center are unnecessary repeat calls. Additionally, their research indicates that 2/3rds of a center’s costs can be attributed to callbacks on issue rework efforts.

Customer Relationship Metrics’ research reports that caller satisfaction ratings will be 35% to 45% lower when a second call is made on the same issue.

Yet another study conducted by Service Quality Measurement Group reported that for every 1% improvement in FCR, you get 1% improvement in customer satisfaction. Additionally, if a customer’s inquiry or problem were resolved in the first call, only 3% of those customers were at risk of going to a competitor.

On the other hand, 34% of customers who didn’t get their inquiry or problem resolved were likely to go to a competitor. What does losing that customer cost you?

The challenge still exists today as to how to define and then measure FCR accurately, effectively, and efficiently. There is no consistent process to measure this critically important KPI. The problem is that this is open for interpretation.

Some centers allow agents to determine if the customer’s issue were resolved on first contact. The problem here obviously is that it’s totally subjective. Some centers use their QA people to decide whether calls were resolved on first contact. This method is based on a random sampling and doesn’t reflect a complete picture. Other centers use post-call surveys and directly ask the customer whether or not their issue was resolved on the first contact.

To my way of thinking, the best way to determine the question of resolution is to ask your customer. Many technical programs, measurements, etc. will provide data that may be useful for internal purposes, but please don’t forget the customer. It’s their perception that matters.

Here are some questions to get answers to:

  • What percentage of your customer’s concerns/questions are handled on first contact?
  • How frequently your customers contact you?
  • Do you identify repeat calls?
  • Can you segment responses by type of call?
  • Do you ask your customers if their concern was resolved, and how many contacts it required?
Please note that some centers report 90% to 95% FCR rates. Yet when FCR is so high it raises a red flag. Perhaps these calls being resolved shouldn’t be handled by phone in the first place. By either putting those calls on a self-service 24/7 website or into FAQ’s, what’s left are the more complex calls, and FCR rates on those calls will be more accurate.

And then to ask, what calls are not resolved on first contact? What are the root causes? And then address those accordingly. Is it a training issue, a software or hardware matter, or a workflow problem? Be sure to include your agents in any discussion since they truly know your customers as they’re the main point of contact.

The results are clear, however. FCR has a direct impact on:

  • Decreasing costs
  • Reducing unnecessary callbacks
  • Increasing customer satisfaction – both internal and external
  • Enhancing up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Moving customers from satisfied to loyal
So how do you define FCR? ICMI defines it as ‘…the percentage of initial calls that do not require any further contacts to address the customer’s reason for calling….”.

If you have a website and a customer attempts using self service and is unable to find what they want, or they find it and don’t trust it and escalate to a phone call, is that FCR? Two points of contact have been made, one to the site and one on the phone.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. What is important is consistency. If you measure each touch point a customer uses to contact you, then that is your measurement. If you use only phone contact, then this is what you measure.

My suggestion? Set up a baseline measurement and then benchmark against yourself. Don’t concern yourself with what other companies are doing, more importantly, be consistent in what you are doing and take your measurements every 3 months and then tweak what needs tweaking..

While KPI’s have been the norm for measuring the overall performance of centers, I’m happy to report that there seems to be a shift towards measuring the customer’s perception.

If you want to know how you’re doing, ask your customer. Don’t just rely on metrics. It’s the customer’s perceptions, not your numbers that make the difference.

About the Author
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., industrial psychologist, President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management for contact centers, providing needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live, world class customer service skills trainings.

Known as 'the practical champion of the human, she authors the best-sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th edition, Customer Service and The Human Experience and Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack You Personal Deck, and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips as well as her popular ‘tips’ newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! available at Reach her at