Better FCR? 5 Call Center Solutions to Help Callers, First Time!

If you want to reduce call volume, improve CX, and make life easier for agents – FCR is almost certainly the place to start.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a target for practically every customer service team. Today, we’re going to look at 5 call center solutions to reduce your repeat contacts.

In this post:

  • Quick refresher – what is FCR?
  • Should you always aim to increase FCR?
  • 5 call center solutions for better FCR

Quick refresher – what is FCR?

FCR is a measure of how many customers called more than once about a single issue.

Low FCR is generally seen as a failing because it suggests customers aren’t getting reliable service first time.

You can measure FCR like this:

FCR equation

This is important: FCR is different from repeat contacts. You might get five calls from a customer about five different issues – if so, that’s not a failure of first contact resolution.

Meanwhile, a different customer might call five times, seeking a resolution for a single problem – that is a failure of FCR.

avoidable call volume

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Should you always aim to increase FCR?

Yes! And no…

There are obvious reasons to help customers in their first contact – we covered the top three in our intro:

  1. Fewer repeat calls means fewer total calls
  2. Customers don’t want to keep calling, so weak FCR damages CX
  3. Weak FCR can damage agent morale – because customers get increasingly irate

So why wouldn’t you chase great FCR with single-minded focus?

Well, there are other ‘externalities’ – factors which can affect FCR without reducing service quality.

For example, some contact centers are trialing pre-emptive service.

(Which means solving customer issues before they happen. Read more about pre-emptive contact center service.)  

So what? Well, pre-emptive service will probably eliminate some simple, single-call issues. That’s a good thing! But if your single-issue calls go down…. your FCR rate goes down too!

So instead of fixating on your FCR rate, ask yourself two questions:

  • What does our FCR rate tell us about our service?
  • How can we improve our service with this metric in mind?

All the same, you probably do receive plenty of preventable calls. Here’s are 5 ways to deal with them. 

5 Call Center Solutions For Better FCR

#1 Give your agents the right data

Good FCR means well-prepared agents.

But around 60% of failed FCRs are due to the agent’s inability to access the right data

You can break this problem into 3 questions:

  1. Are your systems integrated, or is data spread across several separate records?
  2. Do you automatically provide customer data to agents, or do they have to hunt for it?
  3. Do you use a knowledge management system?

Ideally, every system you rely on should be integrated – not its own silo. That prevents disparities and makes it easier to find the right data fast. (Hint: put customer data on screen as a pop-up when calls connect.)

Likewise, any new data agents record needs to update – consistently and automatically – in every system of record you use.  

(Need to know more about integrating your systems? Read ‘How do APIs enhance Contact Center Services’.)  

wasted time on calls

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#2 Confirm call outcomes with automated SMS

There are (at least) two good reasons to follow up calls with SMS summaries.

First, some customers are going to forget what you tell them! They may misjudge their ability to remember a multi-step process, or lie about having a pen ready. Whatever the cause, a simple summary of what you talked about – order details, or links to troubleshooting guidance – goes a long way.

Second, it’s useful to confirm when a customer’s Helpdesk ticket is closed – and to give them a chance to tell you if they’re not satisfied before they pick up the phone again. 

You can easily automate two-way SMS messages containing a summary of key information for the customer’s reference.

(Interested in automated outbound SMS? Get ‘Your *free* guide to SMS and IVR automation’ now.)  

contact center ebook conversational AI

#3 Personalize your call routing

Want to give your callers the right outcome? Then send them to the right agent!

This is not at all a new idea – but a surprising number of contact centers have only limited personalization in their call routing.

Customers value the personal touch very highly. In fact, they rate ‘being treated like an individual’ as more important than ‘the speed of resolution.  

A service/sales pathway in your IVR doesn’t cut it. Personalization means getting granular and putting customer data to good use.

Is there an open ticket in your Helpdesk? Does their CRM profile show that they just made a purchase? Has the caller already reached out in another channel? All of this information should factor into your call routing.

(But how do you do that? Find out in ‘Personalized call routing – what’s really stopping you?’) 

#4 Perform regular root cause analysis

In a previous post, we looked at a great ‘root cause’ example from AT&T. 

The telecomms giant was getting a lot of calls from new customers about their first bill. The company looked at why the bill generated calls, finding that customers didn’t understand the cost breakdown.

AT&T’s response was to send customers a link to an explainer video. Sorted!

That’s a very simple example but it gets at the heart of root cause analysis. The process basically means asking ‘why?’ (Consultant Colin Taylor says it usually takes 5 rounds of ‘why’ to get at the problem you can solve.) 

So look at the drivers of multiple calls, and keep asking ‘why’ until you reach the solvable problem.

CX goals

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#5 Makes FCR a KPI – and tell your agents!

Ultimately, you need just two things to bring down FCR – the processes and the buy-in.

Agents will gladly offer customers more in-depth support if they know they’re allowed to. But 86% of agents feel they don’t have the resources or authority to deal with customers effectively. 

Of course, you might be thinking about another acronym… AHT. Won’t calls get longer if you offer more detailed support?

Well, maybe. But – you’ll also have fewer calls to deal with.

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Picture a contact center with an AHT of five minutes and utilization rate around 60%. Pretty standard.

That means each agent takes seven(ish) calls per hour. Per shift, they each handle about 50 calls in total.

With me so far? Good. Now imagine that this contact center makes a big push on better FCR – and as a result, they receive one less call per agent, per day.

That result – preventing a single five-minute call each – has the same impact on volume as reducing the length of every single call by 2%.

Now, some research suggests that 20-30% of volume is about unresolved issues. If that’s even close to true, you could prevent far more than one call per day… and that’s worth thinking about. 

You know what else is worth thinking about? How your SMS and IVR – plus a good serving of automation – can handle a lot of calls for you without agents. 

If you do one thing today – get ‘Your (free) guide to automating SMS and IVR’. 

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