9 best practices to improve first call resolution

July 29, 2022 | 6 min read

Top 9 best practices to improve first call resolution

First call resolution (FCR) is when you solve a customer’s problem on the first time they contact your company. 

First call resolution, or first contact resolution (if among different support channels), can be measured in two similar ways:

Total number of reported issues resolved on a first call ÷ Total Number of calls

or

Total number of reported issues resolved on a first call ÷ Total number of first calls

There are so many reasons your business might choose to focus on first call resolution, such as: 

  • First call resolution reduces operating costs 
  • First call resolution makes customers happy
  • First call resolution makes your support agents feel more accomplished

But the most successful first-call resolution programs will constantly seek to improve and optimize the health of everything it touches.

First call resolution, or first contact resolution (if among different support channels), can be measured in two similar ways:
Total number of reported issues resolved on a first call ÷ Total Number of calls

or Total number of reported issues resolved on a first call ÷ Total number of first calls

Let’s dive into best practices to ensure your FCR program crushes expectations.

  1. Set goals and track performance

As you begin to track first call resolution success, make sure you set and communicate reasonable goals for your customer service representatives. Establishing a thoughtful benchmark also helps to keep contact center employees motivated. Encourage your employees to find FCR solutions whenever possible, but allow them to prioritize customer success so they feel comfortable enough to move to a multiple-call format when the situation calls for it.

Having a goal will also motivate your employees to find and communicate obstacles to FCR success. They might identify out-of-date documentation, incomplete training programs, or simply develop new ideas that can be shared across all contact center agents for better outcomes in the future.

  1. Develop incentives programs

Focusing on FCR as an element of employee performance is a sure way to get buy-in from the team. Consider developing incentive programs to highlight your FCR goals’ unique nature and reward success across employees and teams.

By offering incentives, you are communicating that FCR is a specific area of focus for your organization and inviting employees to work individually and together to find meaningful solutions to better FCR results through all channels, including training, documentation, information sharing, etc.

  1. Invest in education and training

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on employees to organically identify gaps in your training programs. Companies should make serious investments in employee education to ensure their teams can think holistically about better customer service.

Dedicated training time can serve as an essential mental and emotional break for call center employees who spend a large portion of their day in repetitive phone calls. It can also give them a sense of ownership in the process. By cross-training teams in other departments, they can help reduce their own time spent on internal research and bureaucracy when trying to help a customer with a problem.

Frequent training requires your company to maintain up-to-date documentation of products and services, ensuring that you also spend the necessary time to produce these materials for client self-help channels.

  1. Get agent feedback

Once you’ve spent time training and incentivizing your contact center employees, ensure you have adequate intake channels for their feedback. These ‘front line’ employees will be in the best position to gauge how successful client scripts, internal tools, and other protocols are in truly delivering a first call resolution experience for your customers.

  1. Eliminate miscommunication

Earlier, we mentioned that as more customers call in with complex issues outside the scope of self-service tools, FCR can suffer as a result. (In fact, Deloitte found in 2019 that 61% of companies expect this to happen to them.)

As problems become more complex, it will be increasingly important to eliminate any possible miscommunication between a customer and a contact center agent. Your training programs should include guided walk-throughs on how to clarify a client’s problem back to them before providing a solution. 

Usually, this is as simple as restating their problem back to them with a phrase such as, “If I understand you correctly, you want to achieve X but are experiencing issues because of Y – is that correct?” 

Likewise, contact center agents should remember that customers may not be as familiar with company brand names, internal project names, or other keywords they take for granted. By eliminating these miscommunications, agents will save valuable time in helping customers succeed.

  1. Leverage customer feedback

Just as you need to listen to your agents, make sure you have a platform set up to listen to your customers. Conduct regular surveys or allow for some other regular feedback about FCR satisfaction, and train your communications teams to look for concerns about problem resolution.  Your agency can be looking for customer feedback in client emails or letters, and of course, on the phone.  

Make sure your customers are enjoying the implementation of FCR. For example: 

  • Do they feel enough time and attention are being paid to their problems? 
  • Does talking to a live person feel like a positive experience with the company? 
  • What do they want you to change? 

Take the opportunity to ensure the whole FCR experience is doing its job for them and you.

  1. Go above and beyond

One of the most powerful sentences in customer service can be, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” It puts the power to extend or end the call in the hands of the client instead of making them feel like they are being rushed off the phone. The agent stands positioned as an advocate, ready to address the client’s overall needs for as long as it takes to satisfy them.

For cases where a client has been told a resolution is in the works, you can set up live agent callbacks to inform them when a problem has been solved. Customers will appreciate this touchpoint, and because their issues are resolved, there is less chance it will lead to a long call or new topic.

By training contact center agents to ensure that every element of a client’s needs are satisfied before ending the call, you significantly increase the chances that you will achieve FCR in the client’s mind.

  1. Hire enough staff

Adding additional employees to your call center can be expensive. Still, it is essential to remember that it can be a make-or-break decision during times of unusual call volume. 

Suppose a company’s product has a breakout growth period or outside events impact an area serviced by your product. In that case, you may need every tool available to resolve a far larger volume of client issues than you typically manage.

Tim McDougal, the contact center offering leader at Deloitte Digital, observes that there are only three options available to companies in the short term when call volumes or call times increase: “reduce the call volume, shorten the call duration, or hire more staff.” 

It may take one to two months to train the new staff. Still, for companies expecting to maintain high call volumes in the future, a quick decision on staffing can ensure they earn client trust and appreciation during the times when their products and services are most in the spotlight.

  1. Invest in technology

Short-term investments will get you through sudden changes in call volume. Still, top companies are now turning to long-term technology strategies to prepare for future product line growth and client satisfaction. 

In 2020, Canam Research reported that 78% of contact centers were planning to deploy artificial intelligence technology within the next three years, in most cases to support their live call center staff (as opposed to replacing them).

Likewise, speech analytics has emerged as a field of research to help contact centers improve FCR by analyzing real agent/client conversations to help understand why specific agents, products, or issues may force repeat calls or lower client satisfaction.

New technology trends will expand first call resolution tracking across all support channels. Companies that invest in enabling and tracking call center excellence will see rewards in client experience, employee satisfaction, and ultimately, their bottom lines.

Invest in technology that helps you with first call resolution

If you’re ready to invest in improving your first call resolution, you need technology on your side. Nextiva’s call center and contact center solutions have voice analytics capabilities so you can start tracking metrics that matter. Talk to an expert today to see what we can set up for you. 

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Cameron Johnson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson is a market segment leader at Nextiva. Along with his well-researched contributions to the Nextiva Blog, Cameron has written for a variety of publications including Inc. and Business.com. Cameron was recently recognized as Utah's Marketer of the Year.

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