First call resolution (FCR) is a complex metric that is influenced by many factors. Knowing what constructs contribute to a change in FCR will allow you to develop a more comprehensive approach to measuring and tracking it and also will allow you to make appropriate changes within the workplace in order to improve FCR.
According to a study conducted by Dimension Data, the top issue that contributes to a decrease in first call resolution is lack of access to customer information and systems data. When agents don’t have access to the customer’s history (i.e. their support requests, items purchased, previous events/ cases and previous interactions with your company) they are less likely to solve their problems on the first attempt.
This occurs when software isn’t integrated or doesn’t provide a 360 degree view of the customer, when agents forget to input information into the CRM/helpdesk/back office systems, when agents forget to update all systems with new information and when agents input wrong information. This also occurs when agents don’t have access to accurate information about the product/service (via a knowledgebase, training, or access to a manager/SME). Agents in these situations will be more likely to have to transfer the call or call the customer back.
The second most influential factor on first call resolution is the call center agent’s knowledge and capabilities. When agents are unaware of new events like campaigns, press releases, bugs/known issues and product launches, they will be less prepared to adequately resolve customer’s issues.
Additionally, when the call center agent lacks the authority to solve specific problems, they will be more likely to transfer the call or have another agent return the customer’s call. Finally, the agent’s troubleshooting skills, problem solving capabilities and extent of training will all contribute to their ability to meet the needs of the customer. Taken together, these factors can have a huge impact on FCR.
The third most important factor influencing first call resolution is company policies, processes and procedures. When company policies hinder the agent’s ability to sufficiently meet the customer’s needs, they will be more likely to have to transfer the call.
For instance, if an agent is not authorized to give a customer a refund (only a manager) the number of calls that are escalated to a manager will significantly affect first call resolution.
The fourth most influential factor on FCR is the effectiveness of the call routing system. Call routing systems like ACDs and IVRs determine which callers are directed to each agent, team and/or department.
They can route calls based on the caller’s needs as well as agent experience, expertise, spoken language, product knowledge, geographic location, etc. They are therefore essential for making sure that callers are directed to an agent that is most capable of meeting their needs.
The fifth most influential factor on first call resolution is agent experience. Agents with significant product knowledge, skill navigating company policies and procedures, proficiency with tools/software and who are skilled at meeting the needs of the customers will be more capable of resolving issues and addressing concerns than agents who are not (and thus less likely to transfer the call or have to return the call).
A major factor that influences FCR is the level of training that each agent receives. Agents who are poorly trained, haven’t practiced sufficiently before they go live or are not adequately monitored are less effective at meeting the needs of the customer. They will therefore be more likely to transfer the call, escalate the call or have to return the call.
Different types of calls will have a different impact on first call resolution. Calls that are more complex are more likely to be escalated, transferred to a more skilled agent and more likely to be returned, thereby increasing FCR.
The more complex the work environment (i.e. inefficiencies, lots of red tape, complicated policies and procedures, etc.) the more difficult it is for an agent to resolve a caller’s issue on first contact.
Companies that sell more complex products/services will often have lower first call resolution than those that sell simpler products. This is because troubleshooting and problem solving with customers typically takes a considerable amount of time and effort and agents will have to transfer the call more often that if they fielded a call from a customer who purchased a less complex product/service.
Certain types of interactions (i.e. technical issues) will be less likely to be resolved on first contact than others (i.e. billing questions, updating account information, basic support issues, etc.).
Training, level of familiarity with the product/service and awareness of upcoming promotions, specials and product launches all affect an agent’s ability to meet the needs of the customer on first contact. When agents are well informed and well prepared, they will be more likely to meet the demands of the callers. Managers that are well prepared to handle the changing needs of the call center environment, fluctuating call volumes and workforce management issues will help to improve first call resolution.
The more knowledgeable, skilled and patient callers are, the higher your FCR will be. This is because they will be more likely to ask questions for clarification, troubleshoot with the agent and make sure all of their issues are resolved before they end the conversation.
New agents take time to become familiar with a product/ service, company policies, software, etc. They are therefore less capable of solving caller’s issues than more seasoned agents. Thus, call centers with higher agent turnover rates will have more “green” agents answering the calls and as a whole will have lower first call resolution than call centers with lower agent turnover rates.
Caller’s issues are escalated for two reasons: the agent either does not know the answer to the caller’s question/ issue or they do not have the authority to solve the problem. Having a lot of red tape, restrictions and limitations will cause more issues to be escalated to a manager and will negatively affect FCR.
Agents that are effective at communicating, solicit relevant information from the callers and ensure that all of the caller’s issues are resolved before ending the conversation will have more of a positive effect on first call resolution than those who aren’t. This is because they will be better at meeting the needs of the customers and the customer will be less likely to call back about their issue.
Call centers with long holding times will also have lower FCR. This is because callers will be more likely to hang up in the waiting queue and call back later when they have more time. This will negatively impact first call resolution.
Knowing each of the aforementioned factors that influence FCR is the first step to understanding how to measure FCR, identify issues contributing to a decrease in first call resolution as well as engage in actions to increase FCR.
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