Enhancing First-Call Resolution Rates: A Guide to Efficient Inbound Call Center Operations

what is first-call resolution

The average call center first-call resolution rate fluctuates between 70-79%. This means that 21-30% of customers have to call at least one more time to have their issue resolved. What is first-call resolution rate, and why is it such a big deal? Let’s explore what FCR is and provide some actionable tips to improve first-call resolution at your inbound call center. 

What Is First Call Resolution?

First-call resolution is quite simple. It refers to solving a customer’s issue or answering their query during their first call without the need for follow-up calls or transferring them to other departments. It’s like hitting a home run on your first swing– satisfying for you and impressive to your customers.

It’s equally important to understand what first-call resolution is not. If you have to transfer a customer to another department or escalate the call to a supervisor, it doesn’t count as a first-call resolution. While the customer technically only called once, the person they were initially connected with didn’t fix the issue, which adds friction to their support journey.

First-call resolution rate is typically expressed as a percentage. For instance, let’s say that your inbound call center took 1,000 calls yesterday and resolved 850 of them without a callback, follow-up, or transfer. In that scenario, your first call resolution rate would be 85%, which is well above the industry average. 

Why Does First Call Resolution Rate Matter?

Now, you might be wondering, “Why is first-call resolution such a big deal?” After all, as long as you fix the customer’s issue, everyone is happy, right? Not exactly. 

When you consistently resolve customer issues on the first call, you’ll tap into benefits like:

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Customers love it when you fix their issues fast, saving them time and hassle, leading to a better overall experience 
  • Increased Efficiency: High FCR rates mean fewer follow-up calls, which translates to more efficient operations and lower costs 
  • Improved Agent Morale: Resolving issues on the first call gives agents a sense of achievement while having to follow up with angry customers can crush morale 
  • Positive Impact on Your Brand Image: A high FCR rate indicates that you are coming through for your customers when they have a product or service issue 

Every time you have to schedule a callback or escalate a call, the customer will become just a bit more irritated. However, if the initial agent can address their issue quickly and appropriately, they will probably walk away from the interaction with a positive perception of your brand. 

First Call Resolution Tips

How do you increase your first call resolution rates? You can deliver for your customers and reduce the need for callbacks with these first-call resolution tips:

Understand the Customer’s Issue Thoroughly

Agents need active listening skills. By listening actively, they can truly understand a customer’s issue and identify pragmatic solutions. Understanding the customer’s issue in-depth is the first step toward resolving it in the first call. It also reduces the likelihood of an incomplete or partial resolution.

Empower Your Agents

Give your agents the tools, information, and authority they need to resolve most issues on the spot. While it is acceptable to require agents to obtain supervisor approval before issuing refunds or taking other more notable actions, give them the ability to make these judgment calls on the fly. Empowered agents will feel confident when tackling customer issues and be better equipped to solve them. 

Provide Comprehensive Training

Provide regular training sessions on everything from your products to billing practices. The more knowledgeable and well-rounded your agents, the better equipped they will be to resolve customer issues. On the other hand, if an agent comes off as confused or otherwise incapable, customers will likely ask for the call to be escalated. 

Use the Right Technology

Implement technology that gives your agents instant access to customer history and product information. The faster they can access data, the easier it will be to resolve problems on the first call. Conversely, if they have to dig to find customer records, they will either have to place the customer on a long hold or schedule a follow-up. 

Encourage Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Regularly ask for feedback from both customers and agents. Customer feedback helps you understand what you are doing right and where you can improve. Likewise, agent feedback could help you identify weaknesses in your support model and pinpoint the cause of subpar first-call resolution rates. 

Monitor and Analyze Calls

Regularly review calls that were not resolved on the first attempt. Make a list of common issues and trends. Use these insights when developing your training and education program.

Set Clear Expectations and Goals

Make sure your team knows the importance of first-call resolution. Set clear, achievable goals and reward your staff when they make meaningful improvements to FCR. 

Have a Plan to Make Escalations Frictionless

Sometimes, you just can’t get an issue resolved on the first call. But you can ensure your agents know how to make transfers, follow-ups, and escalations as quickly as possible. 

Emphasize the importance of warm transfers and ensure that they are trained on this technique. During a warm transfer, the initial agent briefs the next agent about the customer’s issue before handing them off. This prevents the customer from having to start their story from the beginning and helps eliminate the friction associated with transfers. 

Improve First Call Resolution With Inbound Call Center Outsourcing

Despite your best efforts, improving first-call resolution rates can be difficult, especially if your support center is understaffed, underequipped, or undertrained. While you may be able to remedy these issues organically, the more cost-effective and practical approach is to outsource.

Partnering with a domestic outsourced services provider can immediately boost FCR and elevate the customer experience. Leading inbound call center partners offer the latest tech, well-trained agents, and optimized processes designed to improve FCR. Explore your outsourcing options and take the hassle out of first-call resolution. 

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