First contact resolution is an important metric for customer facing teams; when used properly it should help organisations to design processes and systems that delight customers.
The definition of first contact resolution is exactly how it sounds. It is having the ability to resolve a customer's issue with a single interaction. This could be a single phone call, email or online chat. A first contact resolution eliminates the need for a second follow up. The metric itself is calculated by the percentage of enquiries that are dealt with in the first interaction.
The techtarget definition of first call resolution (now more popularly known as first contact resolution) is:
In customer relationship management (CRM), first call resolution is properly addressing the customer's need the first time they call, thereby eliminating the need for the customer to follow up with a second call. Talk time (the average time an agent spends on each call) is a common call center performance metric. In general, fast talk time averages are desirable. However, fast talk time averages accompanied by poor first call resolution rates are a sign that customer calls are not being answered satisfactorily.
If you are also finding lots of references to first CALL resolution then let us explain. When the phone call was the dominant communication method between a company and clients/prospects, then the term "first call resolution" came into being. Now that almost all companies use multiple channels of communication, often referred to as 'omnichannel', the term has evolved to become 'first contact resolution'. The telephone still forms a major part of contact centres' activities though, particularly considering the proliferation of mobile phones - so you will see some useful first call resolution tips, all around the use of the telephone in the contact centre.
Whilst everyone may have a different view on the relative value of each of these activities, this is a common list of 8 things to consider when looking into FCR.
|Understanding the issue
|Create customer profiles and analyse behaviour
|Technology that supports first contact resolution objectives
|An optimised Support Structure
|Own the contact and don't 'pass the problem'
|Automation and self-service
|Continually invest in your Customer Service Reps
|Excellent content supports first contact resolution success
There is a great deal of content available that looks at the measurement of FCR and the tools and techniques that are available to help with this. They include tick-sheets, customer surveys, speech analytics, automated emails following calls, call listening, monitoring social media and ‘Big Data’ analytics. They are all worthwhile ways to measure FCR, but actually improving first contact resolution is a different matter. The measures provide the information, but how do you go about changing practices in order to improve FCR?
The methodology that Unipart uses within its own operations, as well as for clients, takes a “bottom up” approach using employees as one of the best ways to tackle FCR. This recognises that your front-line employees are the ones who most often see the issues as well as the potential solutions. Empowering and developing front line staff to innovate on first contact resolution best practices not only engages them, but also acts as a platform for building continuous improvement over the long term. (See Employee Engagement below.)
Which brings us back to measurement; you need to be able to demonstrate that continuous improvement has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. It can’t just be all action and no measurement.
It is important that the right set of KPIs are used to drive the correct behaviours. For example, targeting people on AHT (average handling time) and Wrap (wrap up time) can do just that, by wrongly encouraging individuals to focus on quick calls and getting the customer off the phone, rather than listening to the customer and resolving their issue irrespective of how long it takes.
You must make sure your first contact resolution goals, measures, and improvement methods all align properly.
We have found in operations throughout our own business and those of our clients and partners, that high employee engagement makes for high performing teams, which then delivers improved financial results and outcomes. Building employee capability, through training and coaching in techniques such as standard work and creative problem solving, is just one method we use. It's vital because:
Offering employees the correct training of techniques and skills to become the 'FCR problem solvers' will facilitate change in the organisation by empowering them to:
Transforming complaint handling for a large credit card issuer achieves market-leading status in customer query resolution
One of the UK’s largest issuers of credit cards wanted to transform the organisation to be recognised as a market leader in customer experience. At Unipart we know from our own experience that the best way to see a sustainable improvement is to engage employees and develop their capabilities. By introducing a systematic approach to operational excellence, with a focus on building the capability of people at all levels of the organisation, we were able to help our client to sustain their new way of working.
With the help of Unipart Expert Practices, our client is now able to consistently achieve first contact resolution. This has delivered an improved customer experience and a 20% capacity benefit.
To see how we were able to improve customer experience and consistently achieve first contact resolutions, download the full case study below.
A UK water utilities company improves performance to go from worst to best in class
This struggling UK based water and waste company was significantly underperforming. Not only was it judged to be one of the worst in the country. It was also regarded as a 'special measures' case by the bodies governing the industry. A new management team asked Unipart to help co-deliver the companies improvement agenda, we were challenged to turn the company from the worst, to the best water and waste provider in the UK. When we arrived, only 38% of customer complaints were receiving a first call resolution.
Over 3 years in working together there were some very significant results that had been achieved. The first call resolution percentage has improved drastically, from 38% to 80%.
If you want to learn more about how we were able to completely transform the first call resolutions for this company, download the full case study below.