The Importance of First Contact Resolution

The Importance of First Contact Resolution

One of the key factors when reducing the hassle-factor in your customer experience is simply to reduce the number of steps customers have to take to get their issues resolved.

The Importance of First Contact ResolutionA common metric for measuring success in this area, particularly in the call center industry, is first contact resolution (FCR). While I think a narrow focus on FCR can sometimes lead to skewed incentives and unwanted results, the importance of solving customer issues on initial contact cannot be overstated.

I wanted to share with you some interesting statistics on the importance of first contact resolution that you can use with your team to help them not only understand the idea of first contact resolution but also to embrace it:

  • Improvements in first contact resolution alone typically improve customer retention by as much as 15-30 percent. (Astute Solutions)
  • For every 1% improvement in FCR, you get a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction. (SQM Group)
  • The average consumer must call a company 2.3 times before having issues resolved – and future purchase intent drops from 76% to 55% with the second call. (Portland Research Group | Secondary source)

Of course, your FCR statistics are only as good as your methodology for collecting them. One of the reasons FCR numbers can be misleading and not actually represent the experience the customer is having is because customers might not feel resolved. Asking is a good first step, but even a positive response to the question “have I resolved your issue for you today” might not indicate the customer’s true state of mind. Your rep will place a check in the “resolved” checkbox, but the customer is still not in a good place.

How can an issue be resolved but not really resolved? Here are two examples:

  1. Customers are humans, and their emotions generally rule. Sure, the fact that you resolved the issue on the first call was good, but they are platinum members, have been customers for a decade, and feel they should never have had the problem in the first place. Telling them that their account status has been reinstated resolves the specific issue, but it does not resolve the customer’s bigger issue with the experience.
  2. Resolving on first contact is a relative metric. What it does not take into account is the number of first contacts that occur. So, you can resolve an issue narrowly without trying to anticipate other related issues and actually create more first contacts. For example, let’s say a customer did not receive his new credit card in the mail because the address change did not get recorded properly when he moved. The rep rectifies the issue; she corrects the address, cancels the card that was sent out, and sends a new card. Check — issue resolved. However, does the rep notice that the caller has a wife and a child in college on the account as well? Does the agent proactively anticipate future contacts by asking if the wife and child received their cards, then try to resolve those issues in the same contact (a concept Matt Dixon of the Corporate Executive Board refers to as forward-resolving)?

First contact resolution is a useful metric, and a powerful idea for any customer-facing organization. Just make sure the customer comes before the customer service checklist when using it, and you can make sure it is a metric that drives results, not just impressive-looking numbers on your monthly reports.


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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