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Why Is First Contact Resolution Important and How Can You Improve It?

Imagine you're streaming your favorite television show and you suddenly lose internet connection. You immediately check the TV's cable, reset the router, and try other basic troubleshooting steps. But none of it works, and you have no choice but to take one of the most feared steps mankind has ever confronted: contact customer support. 

Why do so many people hate calling customer support? Because of the dreadful experience; the long holds, the predictable scripts, and the endless queues. And often, after a long conversation with a support agent, they're left with the same problem and must repeatedly contact customer service to resolve it. That's why First Contact Resolution (FCR) is important to every company's customer support. 

What Is First Contact Resolution (FCR)? 

First contact resolution, also known as one-touch resolution or first call resolution, is a metric used to measure the percentage of customer inquiries that are resolved by a company's customer support agents or representatives in a single conversation or interaction. Examples of FCR include a single chat, phone conversation, or an email ticket that's resolved with just a single reply. As artificial intelligence is applied to customer support, the definition of FCR has broadened to include customer issues that are resolved without any agent interaction or touch. Content is presented to the customer that results in immediate resolution either at the point of submitting a ticket or post submitting a ticket. This is known as Zero Contact Resolution.  

Companies will often ask a customer at the close of a conversation whether they got the resolution they were seeking. Companies can measure satisfaction by surveying their customers or looking at the number of tickets resolved in one interaction. FCR rate can also be calculated by dividing the cases resolved in one interaction with the number of overall cases. 

Why is FCR Important?

Companies with high first contact resolution rates typically have high customer satisfaction (CSAT). In fact, research conducted by Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group revealed that for every 1 percent increase in FCR, a company gets a 1 percent improvement in customer satisfaction. The same research also revealed that every 1 percent increase in first contact resolution results in a 1 percent decrease in customer support operating costs and a 1 to 5 percent increase in employee satisfaction.  

Improve First Contact Resolution Rate

To improve your company's FCR, it's essential to evaluate every aspect of the operation that affects the customer contact experience — including agent training, processes, technology, and coaching programs — and carefully assess for problems that hinder higher FCR. Here are a few strategies you can implement to make sure your customer gets what they need the first time around:

  • Review repeat contacts for root cause analysis. Identify the reason(s) your customers' problems are not getting resolved at first contact. Once you have identified the problem areas, determine why calls/conversations are not being handled properly the first time and resolve the root cause of the problem. 
  • Create a common knowledge base. Nothing is more effective than customers who help themselves. All customer support contact centers should provide a knowledge base where customers can access information. To build a common knowledge base, identify the common reasons your customers contact customer support; the questions they frequently ask and which answers have historically been the most helpful. 
  • Empower your support agents/reps. Providing your agents with the right training and resources help them to resolve calls effectively. Rather than tying them to specific scripts, train your agents to use their skills and instincts to help your customer. The right knowledge management solution provides your agents with the tools they need to help customers effectively and quickly. 
  • Route tickets to the right teams quickly. Your customer support team should triage every ticket that comes in and ensure it goes to the team that is most likely to be able to resolve it the first time.   

Leverage the Power of Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

Integrating artificial intelligence into your current customer support system helps your agents quickly resolve customer issues that they're not familiar with. It collects context from previous transactions to ensure that queries are routed to the most appropriate support agent, while also adding a layer of intelligence on content that resolves tickets. This reduces average handle time and increases first contact resolution. 

AI systems are maniacally focused on analyzing historical responses to understand the quality of content for sharpness, accuracy, redundancy, and gaps. The primary purpose for these systems is to look for patterns of content that agents used that can resolve a ticket with one response. AI systems can often suggest patterns of content used by multiple agents that can be converted into a template/macro. AI-based systems can recognize patterns of responses and then offer suggestions to a business to automate with a single response or help create a curated response for the agent.  

AI can automate all case types, both informational and task-oriented cases. Informational cases are the ones where customers ask, "How does this work?" or "Where do I go to do this?" On the other hand, task-oriented cases (do this, do that, etc.), require your customer support to connect to other systems and often require business rule integrations.

AI solutions like those offered by AnswerIQ offer business rule integrations to your in-house and third-party toolkits, which enable automation and optimizing agent workflows through tedious and complex multi-system cases. AI can deflect live support requests and enable your customers to answer their questions through automated self-service. Because AI technology is transactional, it can both guide your customers to complete tasks and also perform a transaction on behalf of your customers because it understands context. 

The Bottom Line 

The key to a higher first contact resolution is improving customer experience. One step contact centers should take is to invest in automating aspects of customer support with AI.

Want to learn how AI can help your company improve its customer service metrics? Download  our new white paper now to learn how integrating AI into your current customer support system can put you in control of your CXM and make your support team shine. 

Topics: Machine Learning, Customer Support, Artificial Intelligence, first contact resolution, average handle time

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