If customer service has a golden metric, a single value that best encapsulates the true performance and impact of a team, it’s first contact resolution. This single number reflects both the efficiency and effectiveness of your service reps, so it’s no wonder that teams put this KPI up on a pedestal.

How Is First Contact Resolution Calculated?

First, let’s be clear on what we’re measuring. A first contact resolution (FCR) means that it took the service rep only one response or interaction with a customer to resolve an issue. Sometimes they are referred to as “one-touch” cases.

Determining FCR can be difficult depending on what communication channels your team uses and how diligent you are with your CRM. There are two variables for the calculation: number of service rep responses, and whether or not a case is resolved. While the formula itself is simple, properly defining the variables can be tricky.


Consider phone-based service teams, for example. How does a rep really know if the customer’s issue is resolved before hanging up? We’ve all been on the phone with a service rep that ends the call with a generic question like, “Have I answered all of the questions that you were calling about today?” That question lets them check the box and say they’ve achieved first contact resolution. If you end up calling back later that week with a related set of questions, that’s hard to identify in a CRM but it shows that the original issue was not resolved upon first contact.

It’s a little more straightforward for email-based service teams. The system automatically counts the number of activities, and there’s a clear process around closing out a case, so the calculation is very manageable. For any email-based case, count the number of outgoing responses from a rep between the case creation and close dates. If it’s only one, you’ve got an FCR. This scenario assumes, of course, that your reps don’t close cases without being sure that the customer’s issue is actually resolved.

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Some service teams also add a time limit for FCR eligibility. For example, a case must be closed upon first response and within two hours to be considered an FCR. This is easy to do within our Service Analytics product.

Why is First Contact Resolution So Important?

Organizations with high FCR rates typically also enjoy high customer satisfaction. Think about it: if you’re achieving FCR consistently, that means customers aren’t waiting very long and they’re come away with resolutions to their issues.

Data provided by ThinkHDI

Data provided by ThinkHDI

Customers don’t like waiting, and they don’t like having to ask the same question twice. Customers expect that when they reach out for service, they’ll be helped by someone with enough product expertise to diagnose and resolve whatever problem they’re facing. When your customers can count on fast and accurate service, you’ll earn more trust and loyalty.

Efficiency is the other crucial element to FCR. All service teams, whether they admit it publicly or not, are sensitive to the cost of the service they provide customers. A higher FCR rate can lead to shorter wait times and allow your team to handle more volume. Getting more productivity out of the same headcount lowers your cost of service and boost your profitability.

FCR combines effectiveness and efficiency into a single metric. When you solve a customer’s problem, you create happiness and keep them coming back as repeat customers. When you do it in a single email or phone call, you’re being very efficient. In order to maintain or improve your FCR, a lot of things need to go right. It’s an indicator of how well trained your service reps are at identifying underlying problems and how quickly they can access the resources to address them. If you’re looking to improve the output of your service team, you might want to start looking at FCR.

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