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Top 5 Myths About First Call Resolution

| 5 min read

The top five myths about First Call Resolution (FCR) are based on over 25 years of experience working with leading North American call centers. In addition, conducting thousands of FCR tracking and benchmarking studies to help improve call center FCR and Customer Satisfaction (Csat) performance.

Myth #1: Benchmarking FCR Accurately Is Not Possible

Myth #1: Benchmarking FCR Accurately Is Not Possible

Using an external FCR measurement approach, you can benchmark FCR to other company call centers. In addition, using internal FCR measurement, you can also benchmark to other lines of businesses, segments, teams, and agents within an organization.

​External FCR measurement is considered to be the most accurate method for measuring and benchmarking FCR. External FCR uses a standardized measurement approach (e.g., the same survey questions and survey methods) for conducting post-call surveying within one day of the call. In addition, external measurement lets the customer judge whether First Call Resolution took place; after all, their opinion matters most. Finally, the external FCR measurement method uses a post-call phone or email survey to determine the FCR rate to benchmark FCR performance against other company call centers.

​Internal FCR measurement can be very insightful for measuring and benchmarking FCR within a company and is widely used by call centers for trending purposes. It is common for the internal FCR measurement to use workforce suites, customer relationship management, case management, and quality assurance methods to determine the FCR rate. The internal FCR rate is based on whether the customer calls back for the same issue within 1 to 30 days. Choosing the appropriate callback time can be difficult. As a result, there is no standard for internal FCR measurement, making the FCR rate less accurate for benchmarking to other company call centers.

Myth #2: Call Monitoring Improved FCR

Myth #2: Call Monitoring Improved FCR

Most call center managers use call monitoring as their primary tool to evaluate call quality and coach agents on providing it. Also, most call center managers believe call monitoring is helping them achieve or improve FCR and call resolution performance.

However, SQM's research shows very little correlation between call monitoring and FCR ratings. Based on years of studying the impact call monitoring has on FCR, SQM has concluded that only 19% of agent call monitoring ratings positively impacted FCR ratings.

In other words, the relationship between call monitoring and FCR is very weak. However, SQM has observed that call centers effectively use call monitoring to evaluate call quality from an organizational perspective (e.g., call compliance metrics such as adherence to policies and accuracy).

Although, call centers are ineffective at evaluating call quality from a customer's perspective (e.g., FCR, call resolution, and Csat). SQM's research shows that if a call quality program incorporates customer survey results such as call resolution, and Customer Satisfaction (Csat), the call quality program would significantly improve FCR performance.

Many of SQM's clients have incorporated customer survey results into their QA program. Therefore, combining customer survey and call compliance results into a Customer Service QA program represents an excellent opportunity for the call center industry.

Myth #3: Call Centers Need to Wow Customers vs. Providing FCR

Myth #3: Call Centers Need to Wow Customers vs. Providing FCR

Given that 30% of customers' calls are not resolved on the first call, trying to 'delight' or 'wow' customers when one-third of customers do not achieve FCR is not a best practice and is expensive.

The goal should be to have 80% of customers or more achieve FCR versus striving to delight or wow customers. Achieving 80% or better FCR performance is a source of differentiation because only 5% of call centers that SQM benchmarks annually can achieve that level of FCR performance.

The primary benefit of focusing on FCR is that for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in call center overall Csat. In addition, improving FCR lowers the call center's operating costs.

Furthermore, it isn't easy to wow or delight customers, and the cost can be enormous in striving to do so. Many SQM clients have tried to differentiate their call center customer service to their high-value customers by striving to delight or wow them, but most have failed in this effort.

Myth #4: Agents Can Be Held Accountable for VoC FCR

Myth #4: Agents Can Be Held Accountable for VoC FCR

The best measurement method for measuring FCR and call resolution is external (e.g., post-call survey). However, agents should not be held accountable for VoC FCR. In addition, agents cannot be held accountable for VoC FCR because the customer could have called in previously about the same issue, thus, making it impossible for the agent handling the repeat call to achieve FCR.

Since 30% of customers do not have their call resolved on the first call, agents are handling repeat calls. Therefore, agents and their direct supervisors should be held accountable for call resolution, not FCR. In other words, they should be held accountable for the call they are handling, not a previous one handled by another agent.

Call centers can use internal FCR measurement methods (e.g., ACD, QA, and CRM) to create FCR accountability at the agent level. However, when using a Customer Service QA or CQA method, the call resolution metric determined by a post-survey method should be used to create agent accountability versus a QA evaluator determining if the call was resolved.

Myth # 5: FCR Should Not be Used as an Enterprise-Wide Metric

Myth # 5: FCR Should Not be Used as an Enterprise-Wide Metric

When FCR is not achieved, 50% of the time, it is because of an organizational source of error (SoE). Organizational fulfillment groups (e.g., orders, claims, billing, sales, technical, and maintenance) can do more to help the call center improve its FCR, customer service, and cost performance.

Furthermore, FCR is a leading enterprise-wide metric indicator of whether an organization's operating practices are cost-effective for delivering customer service. In some cases, we have had non-call center C-level executives being held accountable for FCR.

Most non-call center functions (e.g., sales, marketing, finance, operations) employees have no idea how their people, process, and technology practices impact their call center's FCR and customer service performance.

Agents are the SoE 38% of the time. Call center support groups (e.g., QA, HR, IT, workforce management, and training) can also play a key role in helping agents deliver high FCR and customer service. Given the significance of organizational fulfillment and support groups in achieving FCR, it is a best practice that the FCR metric is used at the call center and organizational levels for determining performance and creating accountability.

Although Csat has been traditionally used as an organizational metric for which fulfillment and support groups are held accountable, FCR is a better metric. The significant advantage of the FCR metric is that it focuses organizational employees on tangible outcome areas such as customer service and costs versus the Csat metric, which focuses on intangible journey areas. The bottom line is that FCR should not be viewed as only a call center metric but also an enterprise-wide metric.