How to Create a First Call Resolution Benchmark

Customers aren’t expected to always find the information they need to complete a purchase or resolve an issue on their own, so they’ll reach out to your customer service team directly.

Inquiries such as this are an initial point of contact, and falling short of expectations right here dramatically reduces customer satisfaction (CSAT) while also risking your bottom line. Customers demand accurate, sufficient answers as soon as they start a call, email, or chat. And if you can’t meet expectations from the outset, frustration grows and customers start distancing themselves from your brand. Goodbye customers, goodbye revenue.

But you can actually track the ability of your customer service team to address concerns, complaints, and questions during the initial point of contact using a dedicated metric. First call resolution (FCR) is a customer service KPI that reveals how effective agents are in understanding an inquiry and meeting expectations in the first interaction across any channel.

In a study conducted by the Ascent Group, 80% of companies with a focus on FCR reported an increase in customer satisfaction. What else shifted with this realignment in strategy? Operational costs, which decreased for 30% of companies in the study.

So, let’s get started with creating a First Call Resolution benchmark. Learn how to calculate the overall FCR rate for your customer service team, what this metric means, and what you can do to improve it over time.

How to Create a First Call Resolution Benchmark

Calculate Overall First Call Resolution Rate for Your Customer Service Team

To calculate the FCR rate, you’ll need two data points. First, the number of customer contacts resolved during the first touchpoint. Second, the total number of customer contacts. Neither should be particularly difficult to identify, but you may need to adjust your approach to collect the data.

Creating a first call resolution benchmark.

Often, companies use QA audits or voice of the customer survey questions to find out if an inquiry earned a resolution on the first attempt.

QA audits measure FCR from an internal perspective from the brand, but feedback derived from the voice of the customer considers the customers’ point of view as a source. When in doubt, always listen to the customer.

If you do decide to use a voice of the customer survey question, keep it as simple as: “Did we resolve your problem today?” You’ll quickly capture whether or not that first interaction met expectations, making it easier to track FCR.

First Call Resolution Rate

Once you have both data points, take the number of customer contacts resolved during the first touchpoint and divide it by the total number of customer contacts. That’s all there is to it. You’re looking at an overall FCR rate.

Looking to get more granular? Calculate FCR rates for different divisions or individuals throughout your customer service team. If you notice a group or agent falling behind the team-wide FCR rate, an opportunity exists to create an effective coaching plan.

What High & Low First Call Resolution Rates Indicate

Now that you’ve calculated your FCR rate, it’s time to analyze it. In a perfect world, you’d want your FCR rate to be 100% as it would indicate your customer service team resolves every inquiry on the first attempt. Well, a perfect world doesn’t exist. There’s still plenty to be hopeful about, though.

The average FCR rate across industries, according to MetricNet, sits at around 74%. So don’t feel discouraged by a less-than-perfect FCR rate. Instead, aim to continuously improve it over time.

MetricNet’s data suggests an average FCR rate ranging from 41% to 94%, which should serve as a bellwether of your FCR rate and if it’s strong or could use some work.

Correlation between customer-directed star ratings and first contact resolution.

Struggling with a low FCR rate? Customers are likely unhappy and costs rose as well, eating away at revenue and restricting the business’ profitability. But if your FCR is high, revenue follows. Customer satisfaction correlates with a high FCR rate and indicates customers are receiving the information and answers they need to remain loyal to your brand.

We’ll say it again: you’ll never achieve a perfect 100% FCR rate. No one does, and that’s okay! Yet you can absolutely aspire to get there, and in the process lift your FCR rate point by point. As that occurs, your customers get happier, your customer service team runs more efficiently, and your bottom line increases along the way.

In an earlier blog post, an example revealed how every 1% increase in FCR would equal $62,500 in annual savings. While improving agent performance and FCR rates, operational costs drop significantly due to greater efficiency within your customer service team.

How to Improve First Call Resolution Rate

With an understanding of FCR, you’re ready to roll out improvements that not only increase customer satisfaction but — most importantly — revenue. So, what do you need in order to do that?

Luckily for you, we did all the thinking and put together a list of tips for improving your FCR rate. In our list, discover 26 tips from these categories:

  • Assess the Situation
  • Set Your Strategic Priorities
  • Equip Your Customer Service Team
  • Adjust Your Operation
  • Measure Your Progress

Maybe you don’t need each and every tip, but any customer service team will benefit from even a handful of them and, as a result, improve its FCR rate. Remember what we said earlier? As FCR rate increases, customer satisfaction and revenue also increase. In considering a strategy to improve your FCR rate, think about these top and bottom line benefits within reach.

The Importance of Creating a First Call Resolution Benchmark

FCR is vital to your customer service team’s growth. When an initial point of contact falls short of expectations, you want to know why it fell short of expectations. Micro-coaching allows you to examine the interaction and get an agent back on track. In the future, the agent is now more prepared for that type of inquiry and can deliver an outstanding resolution from the start — in turn, your FCR rate improves and everything else follows.

It’s never too late to start improving your FCR rate. Even if you’ve ignored this metric in the past, establishing a focus on it will immediately help. Your customer service team will realize just how prepared they need to be for the initial point of contact, and a positive outcome will lead to customers that return to your business time and time again.

Ensure that you’re using the right tools, too. Stella Connect empowers your team to perform at their best, starting with real-time feedback that allows customers the opportunity to say if an agent met their expectations during the initial point of contact. So it’s simple to gather data that generates an FCR rate. From there, our platform gets you visibility into actionable insights that drive improvements through in-the-moment coaching.

Ready to make FCR an integral metric for your customer service team? Schedule a demo with a Stella Connect expert today.