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FCR: Define It, Then Measure It

September 06, 2020 Al Hopper

Start with the letters

Start with C before F and R. C has changed the most over time. F is usually accepted as First but with some caveats. R, or Resolution, is the simplest and most binary to define and measure.

Years ago, life when business was simpler, defining FCR was simpler. It was quickly defined as First Call Resolution. That was it. Did your phone representative resolve the Customer’s issue It was resolved for the Customer during the call without transferring them to someone else or having to follow up later. One call to solve it all.

Business gradually became more complex and often required transfers to supervisors for take overs or other departments because agents became specialized within their organization. First Call Resolution sometimes became more difficult to measure as well, after all, the Customer only made one phone call and even though they had to talk to more than one person their issue was still resolved with that one event.

 Now, with the internet Customers can connect with businesses in many ways be it email, chat, social media, and even still by phone or fax. These channels are sometimes not even in real-time but have moved into the world of asynchronous conversations. FCR has evolved with it with the C often changing to Contact or Conversation depending on the channel being evaluated because sometimes it’s just not mechanically possible to answer something with the first response to a Tweet or Facebook message. We have yet to imagine what the future holds for communication and that will continue to evolve C.

C has been defined (Call, Chat, Contact, Conversation) for what works best for you. Next, we define F and R. R is generally accepted as resolution and is a pretty simple binary measurement. For an interaction, if your agent resolved the issue without transferring it, they get the check. If they didn’t, no check. You can add this into your workflow to get confirmation from the Customer during the interaction. R can become more complex if you add a measure of correctness to the resolution during a quality review but doesn’t have to. F, or first, should also be simple to measure. Was this the first time the Customer contacted you about the issue, and was the interaction transferred? In the simplest iteration of F, we only consider the interaction being monitored, we discard future or past calls from the Customer regarding the same issue, and we also don’t consider if the Customer reached out across multiple channels.

Define the point of view measured

There are two views to consider when measuring FCR; the Customer side and the internal side. A Customer may not be concerned with being transferred several times within a call since to them it’s still one call. It is also generally understood that channels like social media may need more than one interaction in a chain, so C lends itself to Conversation instead of Contact. This doesn’t mean their level of effort doesn’t go up with each transfer or message but that is not what we are directly measuring with FCR even if it the former is impacted by the latter.

 On the other side, FCR has an impact on your business’s bottom line. FCR means you typically had to pay one agent to resolve an issue with the Customer without having to have a first-level agent do some probing then escalate the issue to a specialist to resolve or a supervisor to deescalate unhappiness. Additionally, a high rate of FCR can reduce the number of contacts your agents have to support because Customers only must call once. FCR can also give you insights to the complexity of your business or your service recovery process. If your agents must transfer to someone else, you can begin to look at training opportunities for agents or create a better self-help interface for your customers. You might even be able to use the insights to iterate your product itself based on the intelligence you gather. All too often businesses don’t or can’t leverage their contact centers in this way, but the best ones find a way to do just that.

How do you measure FCR?

Now that we have some good definitions for FCR and which side of the conversation is being considered for measurement, how do we do it? With simple definitions FCR is a checkbox measurement: Was this the first call from the Customer, did the agent resolve the issue without transferring? We can add time variables and accuracy of the resolution if we want to get a more robust measure for FCR success. What if the Customer calls back in 24 hours about the same issue? How about 36 hours? 48? What if your agent gave the Customer the wrong resolution but it seemed right in the moment?

Let’s start with a simple example, a Customer calls about a balance inquiry for their account. Did your agent give your Customer the correct answer they needed at the time during the first call without transferring? If yes to both, get the check. It doesn’t matter if the Customer calls back to ask the same thing because the interaction is transactional. Simple and clean.

Here’s an example of how complex FCR can get if you don’t take the time to get clear definitions. It has been decided that FCR is measured by the agent confirming resolution during the call with the Customer and the time chosen is 24 hours. Your Customer calls in to get a password reset. They called the right department from your phone tree and your agent was able to help them. The agent confirmed that verbally with the Customer. The call checks the box for FCR if the Customer does not call back within the next 24 hours. Except the Customer calls back a few hours later because they locked themselves out again. The password gets reset and resolution confirmed. The second call gets the FCR check, but the first one loses the check since the Customer called back within 24 hours. Now the quality team must pull both calls to determine if they are related and possibly change the FCR mark for both calls.

What happens if the Customer calls back a third time to reset their password? The third call happens outside of 24 hours from the first call but not the second. What about the third call? Per the time definition, the first call keeps the FCR check, the second call doesn’t because it was an agent error after further review caused by the third call. The third call also loses FCR because the Customer had to call back due to error not their memory issue.

What’s the future of FCR?

Measuring FCR is important to both your internal business processes and your Customers. It can be a simple metric that is simply measured, or it can be truly insightful. FCR will continue to evolve in definition and complexity. There will be new communication channels that put new twists on how we can define C. F will be further defined as systems get updated to include those channels and be able to link several channels back to the same Customer. Can your current CRM link a Customer’s phone number to their email address and social media profiles? Add to that the advancements in speech analytics, AI and machine learning, and other automation tools that can scale the number of interactions we can monitor to get a fuller picture of the Customer experience. It is unlikely your quality team has enough time to manually review every Customer interaction with you. Businesses that invest in these tools will not only be able to staff their contact centers more efficiently, but the level of intelligence these reports can generate will become invaluable to the organization for future products and services. These innovations are powerful and great when properly leveraged, but without the human definitions and consideration for changes FCR is just another checkbox that doesn’t provide as much value as it can.