The Customer Service Survey

First Call Resolution

by Peter Leppik on Tue, 2011-02-08 17:47

First Call Resolution (FCR) gets a lot of attention, as well it should. Solving customers' problems the first time they call both increases customer satisfaction and reduces cost by eliminating repeat calls.

But what's the best way to measure FCR?

There are two general approaches: a call-centric metric, and a customer-centric metric. Both metrics use the same number as the numerator: the number of customers whose problems were resolved on the first call. But the call-centric metric uses the total number of calls as the denominator, and the customer-centric metric uses the total number of customers.

The difference lies in the customers who make multiple calls to solve their problems. Imagine that we have a company where 1,000 customers need to have some problem solved on a particular day. 900 of those customers get resolution on the first call, but 100 customers need to call back multiple times. In fact, for those 100 unlucky customers the service stinks: they have to call an average of five times to get what they need, so between them they generate 500 calls to the call center.

Using a call-centric calculation, the FCR is 900 / 1,400 or about 64% because there were 1,400 calls generated on that day.

Using a customer-centric calculation, the FCR is 900 / 1,000, or 90% because there were 1,000 different customers calling.

Which is the better measurement to use?

The customer-centric FCR calculation only tells you how many customers were served on the first call: it tells you nothing about what happened to customers on the second, third, or fourth call.

The call-centric calculation, on the other hand, does capture important information about those customers who call back, and so it does a better job of showing whether the call center is trending better or worse.

To see how this works, imagine that the same call center makes a change so that the next day 900 of the 1,000 customers get their problem solved on the first call. But the 100 customers who don't get their problem solved only have to call twice instead of five times.

The total call volume in the call center has dropped by about 21% because of the reduced repeat calls--surely a big win in the operating cost. Those 100 customers are probably much happier at only having to call twice instead of five times.

But the customer-centric FCR is unchanged at 90%. No improvement! The call-centric FCR, however, goes from 64% to 82%, a big jump which accurately reflects the improved service.

So as much as it pains me to write this, this is one case where you might not want to be customer-centric. 

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