First contact resolution (FCR) is a widely used measurement for how well a company is meeting customer expectations. In theory it measures both efficiency and effectiveness of a support team by calculating the number of requests or issues that were resolved in a single contact. The idea of course is that if the customer only has to contact you once to get their issue resolved, then they will be satisfied.
The problem lies in the execution of this standard. There are several reasons a high First Contact Resolution rate is not always a good measure of support success:
B2B support is more complicated
In B2B (business to business) support, customer requests are often more complicated and therefore take longer to resolve. Business users also tend to be more technically advanced, so by the time they reach out to your support team they've likely exhausted all the usual suspects. This means that aiming to resolve the issue in a single contact is not only unrealistic, but potentially harmful to the customer relationship.
FCR emphasizes the wrong goals
Setting goals based on FCR may actually encourage bad behavior – support agents will be working to close the ticket as quickly as possible, often at the expense of addressing customer concerns fully and accurately. As strange as it may sound it is actually far more important to resolve customer issues accurately than it is to solve them quickly, especially in B2B customer support. Of course the ultimate is to do both, but that isn’t always possible.
It can provide an inaccurate measurement
Many companies measure FCR based only on personal interactions with an agent, and don’t take into account any self-service options accessed prior to these. So if a customer looks on your website, and checks the knowledgebase, and gets frustrated that they can’t find an answer so they call support – that is not a first contact. Their first contact was the website, and the phone call was a 3rd contact. Odds are good this will not be a satisfied customer, but if you only measure the outcome of the phone call the results would tell you it is. To accurately measure FCR, you must make sure you are using an omni-channel support software that looks at ALL contacts as a whole. Alternatively, you can measure the two separately, but you should always measure both forms of customer support and understand that they should have different goals.
The impact of self-service
Self-service should eliminate a lot of the easier and more common issues that come through support, so if your self-service options are working then the FCR rate on other interactions (phone, email, chat) will naturally be higher. Of course your self-service FCR rate should be very high. If you measure all channels as part of your FCR, as mentioned in the previous point, your FCR will tell you if you are doing self-service right. If you measure FCR only on personal interactions with an agent, then you should expect that rate to be lower when you provide effective self-service options.
In the end, FCR is just a metric like any other. To be effective, you must understand how it works, and be clear on what you are measuring (and what behaviours you are promoting in your support team). You must also remember that, like any metric, FCR is most useful when considered in relation to other customer satisfaction metrics. True success in customer support means satisfied (happy) customers. The only true way to gage this is to ask your customers, either through customer surveys, reviews, or transactional assessments – for example asking “were you happy with the outcome of this ticket?” every time an issue is marked as resolved by your support team, and reviewing that data regularly. To learn more about First Contact Resolution, read our article on Business2Community.
How do you measure customer satisfaction? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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