Customer Support Metrics 101: First Call Resolution in Action

We have defined it, measured it, asked why we do it. Now we get to how we do it. Sometimes called a philosophy more than a metric, first call resolution (FCR) is an entirely customer-centric measurement. If the customer does not agree that it was fixed and on the first call, then there was no FCR.

 From McGarahan and Associates we get the “5 Dos of FCR”:

  1. Customer perception of FCR is the most important and requires follow-up, closure, feedback, and monitoring.
  2. Make FCR reflective of customers’ values, expectations, and perceptions.
  3. FCR results drive Continuous Improvement (CI) at all levels.
  4. Give support professionals the proper training, empowerment, tools to support higher levels of FCR.
  5. Market and communicate – reward and recognize FCR contribution, achievements, and results.

 We also get the 5 Don’ts:

  1. DON’T focus on FCR alone without multiple perspectives.
  2. DON’T only measure that “it was done” (checklist) vs how “it was resolved” and what was the experience.
  3. DON’T make it self-serving in scope, definition, and data collection and manipulation. It’s not about “hitting the numbers”.
  4. DON’T be more concerned with call resolution than issue resolution.
  5. DON’T only measure FCR. Balance with other quality metrics.

From Enkata, we get 5 fundamentals for a successful FCR program (everyone seems to like the number 5):

  1. Identify repeat calls accurately (remember what we said about those internal methods of measuring FCR doing poorly here?)
  2. Know why customers are calling (apparently, some call centers do not know this)
  3. Drive performance data to your front line employees (they can’t improve if they don’t know where the problem lies)
  4. Improve agent performance through actionable insights and targeted coaching (not “hey, ya gotta do better”)
  5. Track the impact of your efforts (otherwise how will you know if you improved?)

Both of these resources are available online but may require a signup or registration.

Once you have measured your FCR rates for a bit, you will likely see some areas that could improve the metric if they were fixed. Ideally, those will be the issues that are high in frequency and cause a severe decrease in customer satisfaction.

As found by the SQM Group, the customer support represntative is the source for about 44% of failed FCRs. That does not mean CSRs are bad at what they do. It means they likely did not receive the training they needed and/or the information they require to perform their job is unavailable or inaccurate.

First of all, make sure to hire the right people. Just like not everyone can be a firefighter, not everyone is cut out to work as a support agent. Then make certain to train them on both the product/service they are to support and how to interact appropriately with customers.

Give them an accurate, up-to-date knowledgebase that is easily searched. Make sure they have the tools and upper level support to resolve and/or escalate the types of problems your customers call in with.

That takes care of nearly half the problem.

Other areas to consider for improvement:

  • IVR
  • Redirection to other channels/call deflection
  • policy
  • call length
  • language issues
  • issues that are unearthed about the product or service that should or must be fixed.

In order for any improvement to occur, you need management’s committed support, the awareness of all levels of employees about the need for FCR, those same people must be held accountable for the success or failure of the metric, and create a recognition program for CSRs that achieve high FCR and customer sat goals.

Make upper management bonuses contingent upon customer performance metrics. Let your CSRs know you expect them to take ownership of the call resolution rate by asking the customer themselves if the issue is resolved.  Coach every level about FCR rates and their importance. The customer service and support center must focus on CSR retention and hiring/training  new CSRs with the FCR committment and goals. 

Ways to support the FCR initiative include escalation procedures where the customer is transferred to the next level of support but not required to repeat himself. Call flow must be managed effectively and appropriate process improvement measures must be used.

Technology can also lend a hand:

  • intelligent skill based routing
  • multiple contact channels
  •  screen popups with the call type
  • call wrap-up resolution
  • knowledge management
  • verification self service
  • roaming knowledge experts and knowledge expert availability
  • CRM
  • virtual hold

and more. The most helpful may be a unified agent desktop where all the CSR needs are wrapped up in a single application, rather than multiple apps that must be ALT-Tabbed through.

All of these posts show that FCR initiatives can take time, effort, and management support but when the ROI comes in it is well worth it. Here are a few links to resources for First Call Resolution:


I hope this Customer Support Metrics 101 series has been helpful. Here are the links to the other three series posts about First Call Resolution:

First Call Resolution Defined

Measuring First Call Resolution

What’s the Big Deal About First Call Resolution





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