FCR as the Key to a Leaner, More Agile Contact Center

First Contact Resolution isn’t just another metric your call center should be measuring, it’s perhaps the most important. Why? Because your FCR rate doesn’t just measure how happy you’re making your customers, it’s a window into the overall efficiency of your customer service operations.

Start Thinking Upstream

A lot of call centers use their first contact resolution rate (or first call resolution, or FCR for short) to gauge customer satisfaction with their brand. In an omni-channel marketing ecosystem this is of course a critical use for the metric. But it’s not the only reason you should be paying attention.

FCR rates impact the bottom line more than almost any other metric in the contact center. In an environment where quantitative measurements are hard to come by, your first call resolution rate is one of the best indicators you have of whether you’re overstaffed, undertrained, or simply receiving too many calls. Once you’re armed with that information, you can take it back upstream to improve processes, inform product innovation, and even delight investors.

Why is FCR a Key Cost-Savings Metric?

Let’s say in your 100-agent contact center, the average FCR rate hovers around 68% (the global average is about 74-78%). You receive around 1,250,000 contacts a year which means your agents are handling 400,000 second, third, or even fourth-time contacts. Not only are those customers nonplussed, those extraneous calls are costing your center money, and a lot of it.

Those 400,000 calls? At contact center’s cost of $1 per minute, those contacts – averaging 5 minutes each – are costing you $2 million dollars a year. Improving your call center’s first contact resolution rate by only 10% would save you over $625,000 dollars annually.

In a multinational operation with dozens of contact centers, small changes in FCR rate can have monumental effects. But for lean startups and growing brands, that extra CX expenditure can be the difference between a successful Series B and a back-to-the-drawing-board bridge round.

Higher FCR rates equate to a lot of warm and fuzzy things, like happy customers and glowing online reviews. But they’re also tied to having a more efficient workforce, a more engaged contact center team, and the need for fewer agents. That’s money you can take to the bank.

How to Improve FCR to Save Money…and Scale Faster

First contact resolution is an amazing metric because it assigns a quantitative value to a decidedly qualitative experience: the customer service journey. Although it’s a macro-measurement, FCR is best improved through lots of tiny efforts. Here’s how to look at it in broad strokes.

First: Ensure you’re measuring FCR correctly in the first place.

In order to see gaps and find areas for improvement, you need an accurate feedback mechanism in place to measure your overall first contact resolution. A solution like Stella Connect is the ticket, reliably capturing customer feedback immediately after an interaction is completed.

Second: Identify trends in the data.

Stella’s innovative reporting tools also allow you to tie that feedback directly to other metrics. This is crucial for understanding where unsuccessful first-calls break down – Does the agent need more training? Could the instructions on the product have been clearer? – and work to improve those shortfalls.

Not seeing trends? Segment your contacts into buckets and see how it shifts the FCR rates. It could be that one particular topic is responsible for 80% of call-backs, or that you’re not connecting customers with the appropriate contact team from the get-go.

Third: Effect highly-specific change across the board.

In some cases, a more robust FAQ section on your official website might solve half the problems customers call in about again and again. In others, specific agents might be dragging down the overall FCR rate which provides perfect opportunities for microcoaching (and positive reinforcement for improved performance.) Customers keep calling back about issues with sizing? Send your agents boxes of product to try on and wear so they can speak from a place of experience.

Sometimes poor FCR rates point to inadequate new agent training, or a lack of engagement among your contact team. These are systemic issues that can be addressed holistically through better technology, a revamped onboarding process, or good, old-fashioned morale boosting.

FCR as the Key to Success

It’s impossible to understate how important your center’s first contact resolution rate is to its success. Brands who understand that customer experience and agent experience go hand-in-hand stay leaner and grow faster. FCR is where those two experiences meet.

In the call center environment, time really is money. Reducing the time your agents spend rehashing issues with customers isn’t just a smart cost-savings strategy, it’s necessary for the long-term viability of your business.