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What is First Call Resolution (FCR) and How is it Measured?

Learn the definition of First Call Resolution and how to measure your contact center's FCR performance.

Measure Your FCR

First Call Resolution (FCR) Definition

FCR is defined as a metric that measures a call center’s ability to resolve a customer’s inquiry or problem on the first call, with no repeat calls or other contact channels required from the initial call reason. 

First Call Resolution is a critical contact center metric since it is a leading indicator of operating costs, customer retention, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and increased selling opportunities. FCR does not take into consideration interactions a customer might have had with other contact channels (e.g. website, IVR, chat, email, storefront, etc.) to resolve their inquiry, it is focused on their interaction in the call center only. 

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The Formula for First Call Resolution

The calculation of FCR is based on the number customers whose inquiry or problem was resolved on their first call to the contact center, divided by the total number of customers who call the contact center. 

FCR Calculation Example

In a given day, the number of customers who had their inquiry or problem resolved on the first call (280) ÷ the total number of customer inquiries to the contact center (400) = 70% FCR performance.

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How to Measure FCR: The three most used FCR measurement method differences (pros and cons).

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Repeat-Call Tracking Technology

An internal FCR measurement approach that uses software to track whether a customer called multiple time within a certain number of days.

The pros of repeat-call technology method are:

  • All calls can be tracked and can provide FCR trending.
  • Does not require input from quality assurance or customer surveys and can be calculated using call tracking technology.

The cons with this technology method are:

  • This internal FCR measurement is overinflated by 10% to 20% over external VoC surveying FCR reporting.
  • Customers call back on a different issue, which under-reports FCR.
  • Customers may not call back even if their inquiry or problem was not resolved, which overinflates FCR. Many customers who do not call back may defect to the competition or chose to use another contact channel (e.g., website, email, chat) to resolve the inquiry or problem.
  • There is limited or no customer feedback is available to help improve customer experience (CX).
  • It is a characteristic of an inside-out operating philosophy that is not as conducive to improving customer experience.  

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Quality Assurance

An internal FCR measurement approach that uses a quality assurance (QA) analyst to audit a call and determine if it was resolved and on the first call.

The pros with the internal QA method are:

  • Contact center analysts know more than the customer on the inner workings of how a call was handled as to whether an inquiry or problem was truly resolved. For instance, a QA analyst would be able to identify that a CSR did not follow correct procedures which may lead to a customer’s order not being fulfilled, even though the customer thought that it was at the time of the call. It may take the customer some time to realize their inquiry was not truly resolved, thus causing them to need to call back.
  • It can be easier to leverage existing QA departments to measure FCR instead of investing in either repeat call-tracking technology, or a post-contact customer survey

The cons with the quality assurance FCR measurement method are:

  • It only provides the internal viewpoint of the organization, and not the customer’s viewpoint. After all, the customer’s viewpoint is what matters the most in determining if they will call back. In evaluating QA impact on FCR with over 100 leading North American contact centers, SQM has determined there is little or no positive impact on FCR performance in using QA to measure FCR. In fact, fewer than 20% of CSRs show any positive impact on FCR performance due to contact center QA evaluations.
  • FCR results can be influenced by the sample size of quality audits completed. Margin of error can impact confidence in the measurement with lower sample sizes.
  • It is a characteristic of an inside-out operating philosophy that is not as conducive to improving customer experience (though there are QA Programs that improve CX).


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Call center surveying

Post-Contact Customer Survey

A post-contact survey is completed with the customer via telephone, outbound IVR, or email survey within one business day of their call to a contact center.  

The pros with this method are:

  • It is a characteristic of an outside-in operating philosophy that is conducive to improving customer experience. is that it is the customer’s viewpoint whether their contact reason.
  • This method is by far the most customer centric FCR measure of the three because it truly represents the customer’s viewpoint, not the organization’s viewpoint.  
  • Using customer feedback to determine FCR, it is by far the most accurate method for measuring FCR performance and identifying FCR improvement opportunities.  
  • This FCR measurement method is highly correlated to Csat. In fact, for every 1% improvement in FCR there is a 1% improvement in Csat.  

The cons with this measurement method are:

  • It can be intrusive to collect customer feedback (e.g., calling a customer at dinner time).
  • The customer will only be able to assess whether they felt their inquiry was resolved and must trust the CSR to have resolved the call correctly.  
  • FCR results can be influenced by the sample size of surveys completed. Margin of error can impact confidence in the measurement with lower sample sizes.
  • Governing laws for outbound customer contacts are always evolving. For example. in the US, the TCPA restricts calls made to mobile phones when expressed consent has not been given by the customer. However, the rules of the TCPA and compliance for express consent are unclear and some survey research firms lack the expertise to remain compliant with their methodologies. This can expose both the survey firm, and their client company to legal risks.  


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Best FCR Performance Measurement Method

There are pros and cons in each method of measuring FCR and it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each since performance can vary greatly between measurement methodologies. Even within one methodology, FCR performance can vary greatly (e.g., the number of days used to calculate the internal FCR measurement in repeat-call tracking technology is not standard and will greatly influence FCR results). Internal measurement methods such as quality assurance (QA) and repeat-call tracking technology can be good practices but are not best practices for defining and measuring an FCR operating philosophy. SQM’s research shows that contact centers using internal metrics report their FCR 10% to 20% higher than their external VoC measured FCR performance. The best measurement FCR operating philosophy makes use of the strengths of each methodology to deliver data that can inform decisions that drive FCR performance improvement results. Therefore, managers should not rely solely on any one method for defining and measuring FCR, especially internal FCR measurement methods. Internal FCR measurement methods should be viewed as a supplement to post-contact customer survey methods. After all, the customer’s opinion is what really matters most in deciding if they will make a repeat call.  

The best operating philosophy for defining and measuring FCR performance is letting the customer determine if their contact was resolved using a post-contact survey, while supplementing their feedback with the robust sample of the repeat-call tracking technology, and layering the compliance know-how of a QA process . So, with that in mind, the best method to measure FCR is to start with a great post-contact customer survey program that provides an outside-in perspective of the customer’s perception, layer robust repeat-call tracking technology to help bolster sample size limitations, and ensure that the QA process is linked to validating the measurement from an internal perspective.

Find out why over 500 leading North American contact centers trust SQM FCR Insights Software as the best way to measure and improve FCR by linking post-transaction VoC surveys to QA data and repeat call tracking technology, all in one powerful platform.

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About The Author

If you liked this article, you can learn more about the author Mike Desmarais, MBA, and SQM Group.