Exact Steps to Take to Achieve 70% First Call Resolution


First call resolution (FCR) rate is a call center metric that measures how often a customer support team is able to resolve a caller’s issue during their first interaction with the team. In most cases, this means that no further actions—such as an escalation to a superior or a follow-up call—were required before reaching a resolution.

The industry benchmark for call centers is an FCR of 70%, meaning that 70 out of every 100 callers resolve their issues upon first contact. Achieving a high FCR rate often increases customer satisfaction and retention, and it can also lower operational costs due to shorter overall wait and handle times. 

As such, monitoring your call center’s FCR is crucial for your business because it can lead you to make changes that directly impact customer satisfaction. 

What To Do To Reach 70% First Call Resolution

1. Determine when a call is marked “resolved”

If your call center does not have a standard for determining when a call is resolved, you can’t get an accurate FCR rate. One way to define your resolutions is to develop internal criteria with your team indicating that a call is resolved. Another way is to let customer behavior take the wheel, such as by asking them directly at the end of the call. 

Getting confirmation directly from the customers is an accurate way of measuring FCR because it tells you whether or not a customer expects to call back or request anything else. Your agents can ask callers during the actual call or immediately after with a survey. You can be sure that your measurement is good by asking if the issue was resolved on that particular interaction and if it was their first time calling about that specific issue. Of course, you can’t be sure that every caller will have time to answer your surveys. 

To get a more accurate FCR rate, you should combine customer behavior with another strategy. For example, if a customer hangs up without answering any questions but doesn’t call back about the same thing for over 30 days, you may decide to count that as a resolved issue. This wait period can be shorter depending on your specific business or industry. 

2. Cross-train agents

So much of your FCR rate depends on your agents’ abilities and company knowledge. The more they know, the more issues they can resolve for your customers in a single call, reducing the need for escalation.

Cross-training your agents is crucial, so be sure to teach each one how to resolve the most common, routine, and frequent customer inquiries. Remember to train your agents on every new product or service before launch. If necessary, you should also train a small group of agents to handle special or more advanced customer queries, like opening new accounts.

Consider combining virtual and in-person training methods to accommodate your agents’ learning styles and paths. Bulk up your knowledge base and teach your agents how to use it independently. Your knowledge base should be easily accessible, detailed, and helpful enough that an agent can quickly look up a task they have never done before and execute it while on a call with a customer.

3. Create strategic call groups and call routing rules

Routing customer inquiries to the appropriate agent with the relevant skills to handle their issues significantly increases the likelihood of a resolution on the first call.

Skill-based routing is a way of distributing calls based on strategic rules, and call groups are the different sets of agents receiving the specially routed calls.

IVR systems—especially intelligent ones with smart routing capabilities—can help a lot here, so make sure your IVR menus are simple and easy to navigate for your customers. Callers should be able to press a number or say their requests to reach a specific department or agent right away, with minimal jumps to submenus.

Remember that IVR systems can also be equipped with self-service options, so customers with less complex issues can be routed there instead. Depending on the issue, giving callers the power to resolve their own issues without a live agent can greatly improve your FCR rate.

For the calls that ultimately get routed to agents, consider creating call groups for agents in the same department (like technical support and billing), agents that handle special tasks (like account management, legal, and security protocols), agents with specific skills (like speaking multiple languages and having specific technical experience), and senior agents who have trainees working under them and learning on the job. 

You can have as many groups as you want in your call center, but be sure to test their effectiveness by monitoring their handle times, resolution rate, and overall customer satisfaction until you identify the best performers. 

4. Map out call flows for common issues

When agents know how calls should proceed to reach a successful resolution, more customer queries will often be resolved on the first call. 

Equipping your agents with a clear roadmap will lead to faster resolutions, fewer frustrated customers, and better overall operational efficiency. Call agents will also be able to provide a consistent experience for each customer who calls in.

For best results, try to identify your most common customer issues and queries first, then map out a conversational flow that agents should follow to resolve them quickly. These issues typically include actions like purchasing a product, processing a return or exchange, and handling a frustrated customer.

Lastly, try not to demand that your agents follow word-for-word scripts and instead equip them with useful outlines, a list of clear answers to frequently asked questions, and access to a comprehensive knowledge base. This will encourage your agents to have a more natural conversation with customers and some level of flexibility when handling complex issues.

5. Make your processes more efficient

When one of your agents goes to perform a task—such as refunding a purchase after a return or updating a customer’s account information—it’s important to consider what the process looks like. Is it smooth, for example, or are there friction points along the way?

It will take some time to complete this step, but your goal is to scrutinize every customer service task your agents might execute and identify all the potential bottlenecks that make those processes longer or more difficult to execute. When you find them, you want to remove them entirely or replace them with more optimized actions to make the process more efficient.

If successful, your new and improved processes will improve your FCR rate, reduce handle times, and increase both customer and agent satisfaction. Remember to review your processes regularly to identify any new problems that may appear in the future.

6. Get feedback from customers 

Your customers are often your best resource for learning what is good and bad about your customer service operation—but that’s not all. They can also tell you when there’s an issue with one of your processes, when a particular agent is unhelpful, and when a product or service is not up to par.

In general, you want to understand the customer’s true perspective on why an issue couldn’t be resolved during the first interaction. Focus on the cases where the reason for the problem isn’t clear. For instance, is it a system-related or task-related reason? Is the product acting up or is the customer making a request that only a manager can fulfill?

Customer feedback is crucial for determining whether an issue is resolved on first contact and understanding why it was not. It’s equally possible that your agents need more training or that your instructions for them are unclear. Gathering personal feedback can help you identify issues that you might not catch when relying on data alone.

Finally, be aware that aiming to achieve an FCR rate of 70% and above at your call center is good, but you should not forget why you are running a call center in the first place. Providing high-quality customer service and support should always remain the top priority in your operation, even if it means a second call. Don’t lower the bar just so you can raise your FCR.

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