SQM Group

17 Best Practices For Improving First Contact Resolution Rate

Sept. 22, 2020 | 8min read

Learn how to improve First Contact Resolution (FCR) using proven best practices. SQM shares insightful benchmarking data to help you understand the benefits of FCR improvement. Overcome the common challenges that contact centers face on their customer experience improvement journey.

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How to Improve First Contact Resolution

Each company has its own unique goals and measurement needs which is why there is no “one size fits all” improvement formula. Rather, SQM has developed 17 Best Practices to help companies improve First Contact Resolution.

First Contact Resolution Best Practices are based on SQM conducting customer and employee research with over 500 leading North American contact centers to identify who has world class or improving FCR performance. SQM was the first company to develop and popularize the FCR metric for the contact center industry. We are the industry leader for measuring and understanding FCR best practices because we wrote the book on it (seriously, we have written 5 books on FCR).

17 Best Practices for First Contact Resolution

It has been SQM's experience that best practice importance will vary depending on the contact center's performance and needs. Therefore, the best practices listed are not ranked for importance.

Agent Best Practices

Agent Recognition - An effective Agent recognition program will greatly help management in motivating agents to excel at providing call resolution at the world class level and to retain the top call resolution performing agents.


Agent Recognition

Agent Career Development  - The essence of an effective agent career development program is to have a formalized plan as a way to achieve alignment between an agents career aspirations and the contact center's workforce needs.

Agent Career Development

Call Handling- Shows how Call Handling best practices can improve or maintain great FCR, call resolution, Csat, and Esat performance.

Call Handling

Escalation Agent Support - Handling and resolving escalated calls can be very challenging and emotionally draining. SQM's research shows that when the call is resolved on the first call, only 2% of those customers expressed intent to defect.

Agent Escalations

Agent Coaching - Many Call centers claim that their supervisors spend approximately 50% or more of their time coaching agents to improve their customer's contact center experience, but SQM is of the opinion that this is inaccurate.

Agent Coaching

Agent Training- In recent years, agent training initiatives have been put under the microscope for determining if the training initiatives have had a positive impact on FCR, call resolution and Csat.

Agent Training

Agent Selection - It is no secret that one of the most difficult aspects of operating a contact center is for management to select and retain the right type of agents.


Agent Selection

Operational Best Practices

Quality Assurance - For most organizations, the primary objective of their quality assurance (QA) program is to improve the customer service experience.

Quality Assurance

Desktop Application - SQM clients that have improved their FCR as a result of a new desktop initiative had done so by focusing the initiative on improving  FCR.

Desktop Applications

Standard Operating Procedures - All of SQM's clients are interested in understanding and using standard operating procedures (SOP) best practices in order to deliver OCR, Csat, and to retain customers.

Standard Operating Procedures

Continuous Improvement Process - SQM has developed a closed-loop CX improvement cycle based on four steps: Identify, Develop, Check, and Act (IDCA).

Continuous Improvement Process

Performance Management System - Shows how performance management system best practice can improve or maintain great FCR, call resolution, Csat, and Esat performance.

Performance Management

Contact Channel Best Practices

Omni-Channel - a customer who had a seamless experience across all contact channels that they used for resolving the same inquiry or problem.


Web Self-Service - When it comes to getting quick answers to question and resolving an easy inquiry, most customers want to use the web self-service channel.

Website Applications

IVR Self-Service - The IVR self-service contact channel usage has shown modest increases in recent years because of the emergence of the web self-service channel.

IVR Survey

Email Channel -  The email channel is the second oldest of all contact channels used by organizations, only the phone channel has been used longer.

Email Channel

Emerging Channels - The chat contact channel has been in place for many years but did not initially achieve high customer acceptance.

Emerging Channels

If you think you have a contact center best practice in one of these categories, you can submit a free nomination for one of SQM’s prestigious CX Best Practice Awards.

Best Practice Awards Nomination ▶

Distinction Between First Call Resolution and First Contact Resolution

The distinction is that first contact resolution is defined as a customer’s resolution of their inquiry in their first attempt within a contact channel, regardless of which channel they are in (e.g., email, web, call center, chat, etc.). First call resolution is very similar to first contact resolution in that it focuses on a customer’s resolution in their first attempt in a contact channel, but the contact channel is specifically the phone channel (i.e., call center). Put simply, first call resolution is a type of first contact resolution that occurs in the call center  contact channel.

A hand holding a phone with contact channel icons coming from it.

Learn About FCR Reimagined ▶

Why is First Contact Resolution Important?

Traditional operational metrics (service levels, speed of answer, talk time, etc.) are not as effective as FCR for measuring both the effectiveness of the contact center’s customer service and the efficiency of the contact center’s operating costs for servicing customers.

FCR is a silver bullet metric for measuring contact center quality and cost performance. FCR is extremely effective at measuring and identifying the areas to improve both service and cost and as such, is the main reason why FCR matters the most for measuring a contact center’s customer service and cost performance.

FCR is a gateway metric to improving customer satisfaction (Csat) and employee satisfaction (Esat) performance, lowering operating costs, retaining customers, and for earning the right to sell. It is a leading indicator to improving customer journey metrics (e.g., customer satisfaction) as well as business outcome metrics (e.g., Net Promotor Score®, Net Retention Index, etc.).


Find the Top 10 CX Metrics ▶

First Contact Resolution Statistics

First Contact Resolution Statistics

Benefits of Improving First Contact Resolution

1 Bullet PointReduced Operating Costs

For every 1% improvement in FCR you reduce your operating cost by 1%.

2 Bullet PointImprove Customer Satisfaction (Csat)

For every 1% improvement in FCR there is a 1% improvement in Customer Satisfaction.

3 Bullet PointImprove Employee Satisfaction (Esat)

For every 1% improvement in FCR there can be a 1% to 5% improvement in Employee Satisfaction.

4 Bullet PointIncrease Opportunities to Sell

When a customer’s call is resolved the customer cross-selling acceptance rate increases up to 20%.

5 Bullet PointReduce Customers at Risk

98% of customers will continue to do business with the organization as a result of achieving FCR.

6 Bullet PointCreate More High Performing CSRs

The top CSRs for FCR cost per call resolution is 35% lower than the bottom CSRs for FCR

The Bottom Line

First Contact Resolution is one of the most important metrics for contact centers to be tracking. There is no other contact center metric that can influence the important outcomes of reducing operational costs, preventing customer defections, improving customer and employee satisfaction, increasing opportunities to sell, and creating more high performing CSRs. While the path to FCR improvement is certainly worth the effort, it is not without its challenges. Overcoming FCR improvement challenges starts with a strong outside-in leadership philosophy that is not compromised for competing objectives, and a good understanding of the limitations of the FCR metric and how best to measure it with an external VoC partner. Finally, following SQM’s 17 Best Practices has lead to the greatest success for contact centers achieving the world-class designation of achieving an FCR rating of 80% or higher in using an external VoC measurement methodology. By doing so, companies can effectively measure and identify areas for improvement in both service and cost.

Learn more about how SQM can help you improve your First Contact Resolution with our Customer, Employee, and Multi-Channel Experience Studies.


Contact Center Research ▶

About The Author

Mike DesmaraisMike Desmarais, MBA, is the founder and CEO of SQM Group, an organization dedicated to helping call center clients improve FCR. Mike is considered an FCR Expert and has a proven track record for helping leading North American call centers improve FCR. Mike is the inventor of VoC First Call Resolution measurement and has written five thought-provoking call center FCR books and dozens of FCR blog articles