Service Experience: 7 Strategies to Improve First Contact Resolution (FCR)

First contact resolution (FCR) is a crucial metric for customer satisfaction. One of the main ways customers evaluate positive experiences with businesses is their ability to resolve an issue the first time they connect with customer service.

Service Experience: 7 Strategies to Improve First Contact Resolution (FCR)
Service Experience: 7 Strategies to Improve First Contact Resolution (FCR). Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

Improving FCR in your contact centre can help differentiate your business, drive revenues, and increase customer loyalty. In a U.S. consumer study, 48% of respondents ranked FCR as the top factor in a great customer service experience.

Read this article to learn:

  • How to define and measure FCR for your contact centre
  • Seven strategies you can use to improve FCR
  • How Five9 helped Teladoc boost FCR by 30%

Table of contents

Introduction
When First Contact Resolution Matters and When It Doesn’t
Defining Your First Contact Resolution
Measuring Your First Contact Resolution
Improving Your First Contact Resolution
Real-Life Examples of First Contact Resolution

Being able to quickly and effectively resolve issues the first time a customer contacts your business is critical to providing a more human customer service experience.

Introduction

First contact resolution (FCR) is a metric that evaluates the ability to resolve a customer’s issue the first time they connect with customer service. Contact centres look to FCR for a clear indication of customer satisfaction and to gauge their ability to meet customers’ needs quickly and accurately.

Customers are paying close attention. In a U.S. consumer study, we found that 48% of respondents ranked FCR as the top factor that makes for a great customer service experience. However, achieving the first contact resolution isn’t always easy. There may be a number of stumbling blocks along the way, but with the right strategy, training, and technology, you can achieve higher FCR metrics.

How can first contact resolution be used as a primary indicator for your contact centre’s effectiveness?

When First Contact Resolution Matters and When It Doesn’t

It’s easy to assume that FCR is the holy grail of genuinely impressive customer service. A customer contacts your business and your agents are equipped with the right technology applications, knowledge with access to subject matter experts, and the authority to escalate to resolve the issue on the first interaction. No further follow-up is needed, and the customer is extremely pleased with the interaction.

This is the type of experience customers are hoping for when they contact your business.

From a business perspective, a high FCR rate indicates that you are improving efficiency and lowering costs, since agents do not have multiple sessions with the same customer on the same issue. It also correlates to customer satisfaction. The Ascent Group reported that you gain a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction for every 1% improvement in FCR, while the SQM Group reports that CSAT drops 15% every time a customer has to call back.

But there are times when FCR is not the holy grail. Business-to-business (B2B) customers often have more complex issues to resolve and are likely to have exhausted more advanced technical knowledge before they contact support, which means the solution may require multiple communications. Relationships with B2B customers are also more in-depth, so a push to quickly resolve an issue on first contact may not provide the level of empathy a B2B customer needs.

Relying solely on FCR can push teams to be too concerned with offering hasty solutions without fully understanding the customer’s frustration, the whole story, or asking questions to understand what the customer needs to feel the issue is truly resolved.

First contact resolution cannot be your only indicator for customer happiness, but it is a reliable measurement of how well your team is equipped to meet customer needs. Like any metric, it is a guide to help you improve.

As you look at measuring and improving FCR, remember that the more empowered your agents are to provide solutions, the more emotional and mental bandwidth they will have left to be more human in their interactions. Empathy, listening, being efficient with the customer’s time, and connecting at the human level are what make customers feel understood and valued.

Defining Your First Contact Resolution

Before you can measure FCR, you need to clearly define it. Many contact centres rely solely on the first interaction with an agent by voice, email, SMS, or chat. This reflects the difficulty of measuring customer contact across channels but can sometimes lead to a false confidence related to customer experience.

If you have the information systems in place to track customer issue resolution across channels, by all means, leverage them to measure your FCR. It’s common for customers to start with self-service before reaching an agent, so if you are able to measure it this way, take care when comparing your FCR to other businesses or industry benchmarks. If you can’t account for previous touches, be sensitive to the reality of what you are measuring as it may not be the full experience from the customer’s perspective.

Measuring Your First Contact Resolution

Once you have defined FCR for your organization, it’s important to measure these metrics to understand if it is working for your contact centre. It can be measured in many different ways, but here are the two most common methods:

Measuring First Contact Resolution
Measuring First Contact Resolution

These formulas will give you a percentage based on the agent’s perspective of closed calls. You’ll need to choose which measurement your organization is going to use and make it the standard. Before standardizing, you’ll also want to take in to account internal reporting and customer feedback which can be conducted in the following ways:

  • Post-contact surveys
  • Reviewing agent logs
  • Monitoring calls for agent coaching
  • Running reports on repeat calls

When tracking just the agent touchpoint, a common FCR goal is to have a 70-75% FCR rating. Your organization will need to determine the goals and objectives that suit your business. Once you know your FCR, you’ll want to continue making incremental improvements.

Your cloud contact centre platform should offer the functionality to measure every touch from a customer and track it so that agents can fully understand the customer’s journey, without requiring additional customer effort.

Improving Your First Contact Resolution

Improving your FCR takes a multiple, holistic approach that incorporates cloud technology, integrations, reporting tools, intelligent routing, and training. Here are seven ways to improve FCR:

  1. Ask your agents. This step often gets overlooked, but your agents are the first human contact with your customers. They are key to understanding customers’ pain points and the issues they are calling about in the first place. Agents most likely already know the top reasons they can’t achieve FCR, so take the time to listen. A few common issues are a lack of knowledge or training, lack of authority, or lack of robust cloud-based tools to facilitate a connected customer experience. Having to multitask by searching documentation, clicking on multiple windows, and listening to customers’ concerns can be difficult to tackle all at once. Meet with your agents to understand what can make their jobs easier to not only improve FCR, but also provide a more human experience.
  2. Move to a cloud contact centre platform. No matter how customized you’re on-premises system may be, it will never compete with the functionality of today’s cloud solutions. A cloud contact centre platform offers easy work-from-anywhere portability and seamlessly integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other key systems to help measure all customer touchpoints. Five9 offers easy, pre-built integrations with industry-leading organizations including Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Zendesk, and ServiceNow that are always up to date to ensure that agents have the full view of the customer journey when they interact.
  3. Improve self-service options. FCR starts with the first contact a customer makes with your brand to solve an issue. This includes providing self-service options that can be configured through Engagement Workflow used for visually designing interactive voice response (IVR), intelligent virtual assistant (IVA), and routing capabilities. Engagement Workflow is used to design a sophisticated IVR for self-service, gather customer intent, route the caller, and finally deliver relevant call data to agents to help with customer journey continuity. Make sure your knowledge base is kept up to date to provide the latest solutions. Work with your marketing teams to build awareness campaigns to ensure customers know these options exist and include it in your IVR prompts.
  4. Use intelligent screen pop and routing. Computer telephony integration (CTI) screen pops automatically display customer information to agents so they can provide a more human experience while reducing customer effort. When the screen pop displays the customer information upfront, agents can significantly reduce average handle time as they no longer have to search for contact information. Agents are delivered the information within their native user interface (UI) and can focus on what matters most—the customer. Using intelligent routing capabilities can ensure customers get to an agent with the right skillset to resolve their issue.
  5. Equip, train, and coach agents. Agents that are equipped with cloud contact centre software automatically have better tools for improving FCR. Using workforce optimization (WFO) tools to monitors calls can help train and coach agents on how to provide a more human experience. You should train agents to clearly ask every customer if their issue has been fully resolved and if there’s anything else that can be done to improve their experience. Incentivize your agents with gamification to make it easier to reinforce learning and motivate agent performance. Enable administrators and supervisors to gamify FCR and prioritize this metric to improve the results.
  6. Empower your agents. Empower agents to reach out to experts in other parts of the business in order to resolve customer issues on the current call. Five9 has integrated into popular unified communications providers such as Zoom and Microsoft to give agents visibility into the availability of experts beyond the contact centre. Agents can view skilled employees, see their presence, and click to call and conference as needed to resolve the customer issue.
  7. Deploy machine learning/AI-augmented agent support. Innovation and investment in AI and machine learning are helping to resolve practical problems in the contact centre with both automation and agent assistance. Moving to the cloud is the first step to digitally transforming your contact centre and using new AI innovation to do it.

Real-Life Examples of First Contact Resolution

Teladoc

Here’s an example of how Teladoc, a leading provider of telehealth services, improved its FCR by nearly 30% with Five9.

Teledoc’s on-premises contact centre software solution was difficult to navigate, lacked administrator features, and had poor uptime. Agents had a difficult time meeting FCR because the system was not integrated with its CRM and it couldn’t provide omnichannel services.

Teladoc migrated to the cloud with Five9 and was able to easily integrate its systems and implement omnichannel services to improve FCR by 29.1%, reduce customer effort by 16.1%, lower customer hold times by 12.9%, and reduce speed to answer by 3.3.%.

Since moving to Five9, Teladoc has maintained a CSAT rating greater than 97% over four years and an NPS score of 54.5. Moving to Five9 immediately gave Teladoc the tools, flexibility, scalability, and integrations it needed to more effectively meet the needs of customers on the first contact.

PAR Technology

Another example is PAR Technology, a leading provider of point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software to restaurants. Here’s how PAR improved FCR with Five9.

PAR’s integration ecosystem enables restaurants to improve their operational efficiency by combining cloud-based POS software with the world’s leading restaurant technology platforms. The software for menus, ordering, and POS is used to enhance the customer experience in restaurants. When restaurants have an issue or question on using the technology, PAR’s contact centre agents direct them to experts across the organization and located around the globe. This process proved frustrating for agents and customers as PAR’s unified communications and contact centre systems were not integrated.

When PAR moved to the cloud, the company chose Zoom for its unified communications as a service (UCaaS) system and Five9 for its contact centre as a service (CCaaS) provider because of their integrated solution. The Five9 and Zoom integration, along with PAR’s CRM, gave agents the ability to identify customers and seamlessly connect them to experts on first contact, which ultimately resulted in higher FCR rates. Working with an integrated platform also enabled agents to work from anywhere and reduced PAR’s IT costs.

Source: Five9

Published by Silvia Emma

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