Customers are losing confidence in the support they’re getting from businesses. More than 17% of buyers in the UK have reported having a problem with customer service: the highest ever recorded!1
As a result, the number of customers willing to pay more for good customer service in the U.K. has also increased to an all-time high of 34%2. This means that any business that can deliver on the excellent services that customers are hoping for have all the more leverage to succeed.
Fortunately, there’s a simple tactic your business can use to do just that: optimising your First Call Resolution (FCR) rate.
Improving your FCR rate goes hand-in-hand with improving the efficiency of your call centre and seeing major growth in customer satisfaction. Here, we’ll give you a breakdown of what exactly that involves and 5 key strategies you should consider to see a better FCR rate.
What is first call resolution?
FCRs are tickets that are resolved at first contact. They are defined by calls that:
- Are resolved by one agent, in one session, without escalation to management.
- Don’t require any further contact with the customer to complete the ticket after the initial contact session has ended.
The benchmark average for FCR rates in call centres is 70% — so you should be aiming for at least that much, and ideally even higher. You can calculate yours by using the following formula:
The total number of resolved one-touch tickets
Total number of tickets received
But why aren’t all businesses achieving that goal?
In a nutshell, it’ll be because there are some pretty big efficiency gaps in their customer service functions. Here are some more detailed examples of what those could be:
- Undertrained and/or unknowledgeable agents.
- Indifferent and unsympathetic agents.
- Regular escalations to management.
- A lack of clarity over customer issues.
- Over-reliance on ineffective Virtual Assistants (VAs).
- Customers disconnected when transferred to different departments.
- Insufficient channels and technical limitations.
If any of the above sound a little too familiar for comfort, it’s worth revisiting if your customer service departments may need a bit of help.
Why do they matter?
Improving your FCRs will set your brand above your competitors’, even if the price and quality of your product may not totally match theirs.
In other words, getting your FCR in top shape will not only drive sales and retain customers: they’ll cut costs by reducing call volumes and handling times.
And if you’re concerned about how valuable it really is to focus on your FCR rate, then don’t worry. 60% of companies that measure their FCRs for a year or longer see a 30% improvement in their FCR KPIs.3
So tracking FCRs isn’t just a fancy add-on. It’s an essential tool to improve how you deliver to and support your customers.
Let’s get into the top ways you can start improving your FCR rate.
1. Offer self-service
Self-service empowers customers to quickly find answers to common questions on their own terms at their convenience. This can save your customers a lot of time and effort, leaving them room to get in touch with your customer service function for more in-depth problems or queries. Self-service tools include:
- Knowledge bases
- Online tutorials
These options offer customers real-time assistance without the need to wait in queues or be restricted to opening hours. This accessibility increases customer satisfaction by providing instant solutions in any place at any time, providing the customer has a stable internet connection. They can be accessed from various devices, fostering a seamless user experience.
By encouraging customers to use self-service tools, companies can also ensure consistent and up-to-date information is published across the board. These resources can be updated promptly to reflect the latest product information, policies and procedures, minimising the risk of misinformation and confusion.
Your agents will also thank you. They’ll have more time to effectively manage the calls that do come in, increasing agent job satisfaction and giving agents more time for training.
2. Refine your agent training processes
Well-trained agents have a deeper understanding of processes, enabling them to provide accurate and efficient solutions during the initial customer call. This leads to reduced call escalations, increasing the likelihood the call will be resolved immediately. Essential skills your agents must have include:
- Strong knowledge of your brands and products.
- Familiarity with processes, such as refunds, troubleshooting and replacement policies.
- Basic knowledge of industry standards and up-to-date competitor information.
Outsourcing to a great CS provider is an excellent way to improve your customer service team and ensure your customers are speaking to well-trained agents. When you partner with the right one, they can take care of matching you with expertly trained agents that can be deployed depending on your level of demand.
3. Get customer feedback
Receiving good quality customer feedback will give you insights into exactly what’s working and what’s frustrating your customers. This insight empowers you to make the changes necessary to improve CX and subsequently improve FCRs. This is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses that are still steadily growing.
Here are some top tips to follow:
- Encouraging customers to fill out surveys about their CS experience.
- Providing feedback forms for customers to give their honest opinions about their CS journey.
- Asking your agents to make follow-up calls. This makes customers feel like your company really cares about their experience with you.
- Sharing the feedback with your agents so that they have the insights on what they’re doing really well in and what may need some improvement.
4. Go omnichannel
Omnichannel customer support enables seamless CX across multiple channels, such as:
- Live chat
- Social media channels
- Mobile app support
Centralising these empowers your agents to access information faster and easier, saving them time and improving their efficiency. So definitely consider:
- Using chatbots to encourage customers to give their customer reference numbers, product codes and general line of enquiry. This saves both the agent and the customer time once connected and enables you to distribute customer queries among specially trained staff effectively.
- Encouraging follow-up communications such as confirmation emails and follow-up calls in a single digital space. Centralising this information makes it quicker and easier for your agents to follow later procedures, freeing up their time and improving their work satisfaction.
When outsourcing your CS, make sure you find a high-standard outsourcing partner who can work with your chosen systems with as little disruption as possible.
5. Employ flexible outsourced services
Small and medium-sized businesses often suffer from overloaded CS agents who can’t deal with the sheer number of queries they’re getting. This leads to a reduction in FCRs, as customers are often rushed off the call without a full solution to their issue.
This is where a high-quality customer service outsourcing partner can be of great help.
Crucially, you’ll need an outsourcing partner who can provide a pay-as-you-go service, meaning you won’t pay for times when your customers aren’t getting in touch. This ensures you’re only paying for what services are actually provided, nothing else. It also means you can scale according to demand, offering an affordable and scalable CS solution.
Improve how you approach customer service with Odondo
FCRs significantly impact efficiency and customer satisfaction and play an important role in elevating brand differentiation through excellent CX. Achieving a high FCR rate is crucial for efficient call centre operations and customer satisfaction.
The need for a holistic approach to improving FCR rates is vital. Addressing factors like agent training, customer feedback, omnichannel support, self-service options and choosing a flexible outsourcing partner is vital to improving your FCR KPIs. Ultimately, the key lies in your capacity to meet customer demands and drive overall efficiency in CS operations.
We at Odondo are an experienced CS outsourcing company. We have a track record of delivering exceptional CS, driving up FCRs and vastly improving customer satisfaction for our clients across various industries. Our services include:
- Matching your business with well-trained, experienced agents.
- Keeping in regular contact and updating you on current CS trends.
- Offering hybrid models, meaning you can extend the reach of your current CS team.
- Providing a pay-as-you-go service, so you won’t have to pay for what you don’t use.
- Providing omnichannel support to optimise the entire customer journey and make full use of everything you have to offer your customers.
Want to find out we can help your business see greater metrics across the board (with FCR being just the beginning?) Just request a quote and we’ll be in touch!
Aamir is one of the Co-Founders at Odondo, where he obsesses over the details to deliver a strong and compelling proposition for each of his clients.
Prior to Odondo, he was CTO at one of the UK's largest price comparison websites, with contact centres in the UK and India. In his spare time, he loves reading, politics, tennis, and playing the piano (badly).