What is first contact resolution (FCR)? Benefits + best practices
When used judiciously, first contact resolution can help increase agent efficiency and improve your customer experience.
Last updated February 29, 2024
What is first contact resolution (FCR)?
First contact resolution—also known as first call resolution or first touch resolution—is the percentage of support tickets agents resolve on the first attempt. Examples include an agent solving an issue with a single phone call, chat conversation, or email response.
First contact resolution, when done right, is a win-win: Customers are happy and so are your call center agents.
Imagine you just bought a new device you’re excited to use. You follow the setup instructions to a T, but it’s not working. Eventually, you have no option but to call customer service. The agent pinpoints the problem and, boom, you’re on your way.
There’s something to be said about the relief you feel when a customer service rep helps you resolve an issue quickly. You pick up the phone expecting the worst—a long hold time and multiple transfers—and you hang up feeling grateful for the great support you received.
Create similarly positive experiences for your customers by tracking first contact resolution. Monitor this key customer service metric to spot ticket patterns and make adjustments to your support experience so you can increase customer satisfaction and retention.
More in this guide:
- Why is first contact resolution an important metric?
- How to measure first contact resolution rate
- What is a good first contact resolution rate?
- Pros and cons of tracking first contact resolution rate
- How to improve first contact resolution
- Frequently asked questions
- From first contact resolution to next issue avoidance
Why is first contact resolution an important metric?
Call center metrics, like first contact resolution, are beneficial for all parties involved. Tracking FCR is a good way to get feedback about how your company is doing.
Many consumers use self-service channels, like chatbots and knowledge bases, to solve their problems without help from an agent. But when they need to contact customer service, buyers want their issues handled promptly and effectively.
According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 62% of customer experience (CX) leaders feel they are behind in providing the prompt experiences consumers expect.
FCR allows you to determine whether your support team is helping your audience quickly or adding hoops for them to jump through to get a resolution. By tracking FCR, you can gauge how well your support team meets customer expectations for instant responses.
How to measure first contact resolution rate
To calculate your company’s first contact resolution, take the number of customer tickets resolved in a single interaction (email response, phone call, chat session, etc.) and divide it by the total number of tickets received.
FCR = (Total number of one-touch tickets ÷ Total number of tickets received) x 100
Make sure the interactions being counted fall within the same time frame. Many businesses get tickets that are impossible to resolve in one interaction (software bug reports aren’t considered solved until the bug is fixed, for example). If this is the case for your company, you can limit your calculations to the interactions that could have theoretically been solved on the first attempt.
What is a good first contact resolution rate?
According to the Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group, the industry standard for a good FCR rate falls between 70 and 79 percent, which means about 30 percent of tickets take more than one interaction to resolve.
A first contact resolution rate of 80 percent or higher is considered “world-class,” but only 5 percent of call centers achieve that distinction.
The industry benchmark average for FCR is 70 percent, so most businesses should strive to hit that number.
Pros and cons of tracking first contact resolution rate
FCR is a great tool for measuring success, but it comes with its ups and downs.
Tracking your first contact resolution rate can benefit your business, customers, and employees. For example, a high FCR can lead to:
- Reduced operating costs: The SQM Group’s first contact resolution guide indicates that for every one percent improvement in FCR, operating costs are reduced by one percent because agents spend less time providing support.
- Improved customer satisfaction: Unsurprisingly, a high FCR rate is tied to higher customer satisfaction. For every one percent improvement in FCR, there’s a one percent improvement in customer satisfaction, according to the SQM Group.
- Increased customer retention: Customer retention and referrals also positively correlate with the FCR rate. The better your FCR, the more customers you are likely to retain.
- Improved employee satisfaction: Employee satisfaction rises at the same rate as FCR—even higher in some cases—according to the SQM Group. If agents are handling repeat customer calls regarding the same issue, they’re likely dealing with frustrated or angry customers, which can be stressful.
Next, let’s look at some drawbacks of tracking your FCR.
While a high FCR rate is worth celebrating, it isn’t a surefire sign that your support experience is perfect. For example, a high FCR may result from:
- Diminished self-service options: A high FCR rate could indicate that your self-service resources are lacking. If customers frequently reach out to you with simple issues or basic questions, you may need to add more content to your website so they can resolve issues on their own.
- Reduced long-term solutions: Agents can also drive up your FCR rate by finding quick, Band-Aid fixes that aren’t helpful in the long run. Reps might look for the easiest solution rather than diving deeper to find the “why” behind it. When this happens, customers may reach out again about the same problem.
To help keep your customers and employees happy, remember the above information when taking steps to improve your FCR.
How to improve first contact resolution
You can improve FCR by implementing training and tools that focus on FCR and next issue avoidance (NIA), a metric that helps agents predict problems that may arise. Consider the following when looking to improve first contact resolution rates.
1. Empower your team with agent training and role-playing
Agents know how to resolve an issue, but they may stumble on their words or make a few missteps because they’re unfamiliar with the problem. During training sessions, give your team the confidence to resolve issues completely and efficiently by role-playing. For this exercise, choose customer scenarios agents can resolve in one interaction.
A good scenario to role-play includes dealing with a frazzled or emotional customer. If an agent can tell a customer is stressed—maybe because they’re terse or there’s a crying child in the background—achieving FCR is especially important. It helps the customer mark one thing off of their to-do list quickly.
2. Use self-service to improve FCR customer support
When a customer calls with a fairly straightforward issue or question, direct them to your online help center so they can read a blog post, guide, or FAQ page that details the problem they’re facing and the solution.
Self-service options empower customers to solve problems on their own. If they face the same issue again, they can reference your online knowledge base or help center to troubleshoot their issue instead of making repeat calls.
3. Make customer information accessible with a CRM
“Let me look into that for you, and I’ll call you back in a few hours.”
If a support agent says this, they likely are having difficulty finding customer information. Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool so agents can easily find all the customer information they need to resolve an issue.
A CRM stores all customer data in one centralized hub for easy access and analysis, which means agents are better able to solve issues in one interaction. This not only boosts customer satisfaction but also facilitates collaboration between different departments.
4. Set up automated ticket routing
Say a customer reaches out to your support team with a niche problem that only a few agents with specialized skills know how to solve. Automated ticket routing connects customers to the agent best equipped to handle their issues, increasing the likelihood of first contact resolution. Ticket-routing strategies, like skills-based routing, also help support teams stay organized and deliver high-quality customer service.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between first contact resolution rate vs. first response time?
The difference between first contact resolution and first response time (FRT) is that FCR measures the percentage of tickets solved on the first interaction. In contrast, FRT tracks how long it takes support agents to initially respond to the customer.
What does a high rate of first contact resolution indicate?
In some cases, a high FCR rate may indicate that your self-service options need improvement. For example, your FCR rate can increase when customers reach out with basic questions that an FAQ page can answer instead.
What is the objective of first contact resolution?
First contact resolution aims to meet the customer’s needs the first time you interact with them.
From first contact resolution to next issue avoidance
Improving FCR is a great way to keep buyers happy and gauge how things are going in your call center or overall support operations. But this metric is just one piece of the customer experience pie. If your goal is to improve customer satisfaction and team efficiency, you must stretch a bit further.
With customer service software like Zendesk, your support team can solve issues faster with AI-powered insights and guidance, like intelligent article recommendations. Additionally, our customer service solution enables your team to meet customers where they are and provide personalized omnichannel service with a full view of the customer so you can start improving your FCR on day one. Watch a demo today.