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Since 1996, Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group has been a leading North American contact center industry customer experience research, consulting, and performance awarding firm. In fact, SQM is viewed by the contact center industry as being the thought leader and the gold standard for measuring, benchmarking, and improving First Contact Resolution (FCR). Before I share the Top 5 Reasons to Improve FCR, I thought it would be helpful to show some of SQM’s Voice of the Customer (VoC) FCR research and share how we define and measure FCR and contact resolution. SQM’s VoC research shows that improving FCR remains a huge opportunity for the entire contact center industry. Furthermore, our research shows that for the average call center, 72% of calls are resolved on the first call, which means 28% of customers have to contact the organization back because their issue was not resolved on the first call. Of the 500 leading North American call centers SQM has conducted an FCR benchmarking study, only 5% of the call centers are at the world class FCR performance standard of 80% or higher.
When customers call a call center for most call reasons (e.g., customer service, account inquiries, orders, product information, reservation, sales and technical) they expect their call to be resolved on the first call. In most cases, customers expect to achieve FCR whether their contact reason is of low or high complexity no matter what contact channel they use. In addition, it does not matter if they are contacting their health insurance, bank, cable, or energy company, customers expect FCR. SQM’s research shows that 86% of customers expect that when they call a call center, their call will be resolved on the first call. Each time a customer has to call back to the call center to resolve an issue that was not resolved on the first call, Csat (top box survey response) drops, on average, 15%. In other words, if a customer calls a call center three times to resolve their issue, on average, Csat (top box response) will drop 30%.
It is SQM’s belief that a customer’s experience in using any contact channel should be measured by using the FCR metric. The FCR metric is just as important to customers using the web self-service, IVR self-service, and email contact channels as it is to customers using the call center contact channel. Using FCR as a common metric among the different contact channels can provide an accurate comparison of customer experience (CX) performance for each contact channel. The below chart shows FCR performance comparison for core contact channels. The FCR data shows that web self-service (76%) and IVR self-service (74%) contact channels had the highest FCR performance and the email (61%) contact channel had the lowest FCR performance. The main reason web self-service and IVR self-service contact channels have the highest FCR performance is the contact reasons (e.g., orders, status updates, payment) are lower in complexity compared to the contact reasons the call center and email contact channels handle. In most cases, the email contact channel handles the highest complexity of contact reasons for all contact channels and most customers who use this contact channel do so because it allows them to document their interaction. When an inquiry or problem is not resolved on the email, IVR self-service, or web self-service channels, most of those customers will phone the call center to resolve their issue. Therefore, the call center channel is the last line of defense for resolving an issue and, most importantly, retaining customers.
FCR is widely considered the only key performance metric that provides a balanced view (quality and cost) of a call center’s overall performance. The following are the top 5 reasons to improve first contact resolution:
If you are interested in learning more about how FCR can improve Csat, increase customer referrals, and retention, please contact SQM.
If you liked this article, you can learn more about the author Mike Desmarais, and SQM Group.