We saw a good article the other day from InsightSquared entitled, “Why is everyone so obsessed with First Contact Resolution?”
First Contact Resolution (FCR), is a simple statistic. It measures the percentage of cases that are resolved on first contact with the customer. So if you receive 100 calls, and 40 of them are resolved on the first phone call, then your FCR is 40%.
InsightSquared gives rave reviews of the statistic, calling it “a golden metric, a single value that best encapsulates the true performance and impact of a team, its first contact resolution. This single number reflects both the efficiency and effectiveness of your service reps.”
We at Hudson also think FCR a useful statistic, when used properly. We don’t wax quite as enthusiastic about it, however. Like any statistic, there are right ways and wrong ways to use it. It is easily subject to abuse.
So here are some thoughts about the right and wrong ways to use FCR.
Right Ways to Use FCR:
To Measure your team’s performance over time:
You can measure this statistic for your team, and then give appropriate training and better tools. Then measure again. This is at least one measure of whether your training is effective.
To find out which reps are above average (and which below average):
Reps with above average FCR rates are often, but not always your better reps. The same logic applies with reps with below average FCR numbers; they may be your least productive reps. If one rep has far higher numbers than the rest of the team, be suspicious, and monitor those phone calls. Find out the behavior that is causing the difference.
How Can FCR go wrong?
Compare one team to another (unless they handle exactly the same calls).
Your customer service team has 79% first call resolution, and your tech support team has 44% FCR. Is the customer service team a better team, better trained or managed? Probably not, since their jobs are very different. To state the obvious, tech support calls usually require technical skills, and are usually more complicated. Even two different tech support groups probably aren’t handling the exact same products, under the same escalation rules. So you can’t compare their FCR directly.
Compare one vendor to another (with different products and different escalation rules).
Vendors with different clients and different products operate under different rules. One client may expect you to escalate calls to Tier 2 once they are longer than a certain time. So your FCR will be lower than if you could stay on the phone. Another client may want as few escalations as possible, encouraging you to stay on and solve the problem. (We at Hudson have had both of these types of situations). You can’t compare vendors with different products and different instructions from their clients. Also, different vendors often have different ways to determine if an incident is resolved.
Incentivize reps on this statistic alone.
You change people’s behavior when you tell them money is involved. FCR should come out of good call center practices, good training and good coaching. You don’t want your reps eager to get off the phone and mark the call resolved, and possibly acting contrary to how you want them to handle the calls. Also, that rep who is slightly below average on FCR? She may be a very good rep, who is just more cautious than the rest of your reps. Do you want to reduce her compensation for that?
Lumping together different channels when measuring.
We notice in the InsightSquared article that they seemed to be implying they would lump phone calls in with emails when taking FCR measurements. We think that is a mistake. Free form emails almost always have lower FCR rates than phone calls. A typical free form first email from a customer usually doesn’t have all the information you need to confidently solve the problem. On a phone call, you can have a conversation and pick up that information; with email, you need to reply with questions, and then there is no resolution on first contact. So the two channels don’t give comparable numbers. We would measure them separately.
To get email FCR up higher, some call centers send out very general information and hope the user will find what they need. If they don’t hear from the customer within a certain number of days, they mark the incident resolved. This may be necessary for higher volumes or during seasonal volume spikes. However, this kind of resolution isn’t as definitive as on a phone call, and you shouldn’t compare them.
In short, the right way to use First Contact Resolution or First Call Resolution is internally, measuring your group over time and comparing individual reps against the norm, to see who needs training and tune-up. The norm you look at should be measured for each channel. The wrong way to use FCR is almost everything else.