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First Call Resolution Revisited Again

by Rosanne D’Ausilio, Ph.D., President Human Technologies Global, Inc.

As you know, customer satisfaction is crucial to customer loyalty, positive word of mouth, and return on investment.

A new study released recently from CFI Group reports that (yet again) first call resolution has the most impact on customer satisfaction, and therefore, their loyalty and likelihood to recommend.  In this study, across all industries measured, almost a fifth of all callers hung up with their issue unresolved.  Of those customers who didn’t have their issue resolved, 68% are at risk of defection:

  • 43% said they’d definitely defect
  • 25% weren’t sure

The study further found that customers who think the contact center is located outside the US rate their satisfaction with their experience 26 points lower (on a scale of 100) and are almost twice as likely to defect compared to those who assume their support is in the US. 

Interesting in light of a recent tip about outsourcing.  This study says there is a negative impact on satisfaction because offshore customer service reps are less adept at solving customer problems, and are especially rated low on communication skills.  Reps with poor communication skills are able to solve customer issues only 45% of the time, compared to 88% of the time when they speak clearly. 

Certainly first call resolution remains the #1 driver of customer satisfaction.  We've reported before the costs associated with customers having to contact you more than once or twice, and then defecting to your competition.

According to a recent Yankee Group study 30 – 35% of calls coming into the average center are unnecessary repeat calls.  65% of all repeat calls are reportedly the result of agent errors, such as: No confident answer, the wrong answer, someone doesn’t follow through on commitment, and the customer will call back.

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?  We’ve given a formula to plug in your own numbers in previous articles.

The challenge still exists today as to how to define and then measure FCR accurately, effectively, and efficiently.  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.

And finally, I believe that first call resolution is a training issue.  If your personnel have the communication skills, the knowledge base, and the empowerment, you can eliminate those second and third calls, as well as the misinformation.

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