There’s a ton of different call center metrics out there, but there’s just one that you absolutely need to nail: first call resolution.

Nothing kills customer loyalty more than not getting solutions right away.

Resolving a customer’s query or issue on their very first call is a surefire way to improve customer satisfaction—the faster a customer can get a resolution to their problem, the happier they’re going to be. And this, ultimately, will reflect well on your business.

Good vs. Bad Call Center Center KPIs

Some KPIs are crucial for the success of a call center; others need to be taken with a grain of salt. 

There are a ton of issues with some of the most popular call center metrics:

  • Measuring the average call duration might seem like a good idea, but it can actually pressure agents to end calls quicker, which might result in dissatisfied customers or repeated callbacks. Although the average call duration can be useful when planning your resources, it shouldn’t be a North Star metric by any means.
  • Call center service levels measure how many calls are answered in a given amount of time. Despite the name, this metric does not measure the quality of the service, but its quantity. Instead of focusing on providing quality service, agents often feel forced to try and answer more and more calls—to the detriment of the overall customer experience.
  • Knowing your call abandonment rate is, for sure, important—but it shouldn’t be an end-all, be-all metric. A high call abandonment rate means that many callers are hanging up before they get to speak with an agent. However, it doesn’t tell you why customers are hanging up. Without the why, you don’t know if it’s the long wait times or if they simply found the answers they needed through your IVR’s pre-recorded messages or on your company website.

On the flip side, many call center KPIs will actually help you grow and improve your call center operations. For instance:

  • Looking at your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) can help you better understand how happy customers are with your service. It’s not a perfect metric, but it can reveal if there are issues in the overall customer satisfaction (and, as such, it can be a good headstart into a deeper investigation).
  • Likewise, monitoring your net promoter score (NPS) can give you valuable insights into how your customers perceive your brand and whether they would recommend it to others.

Of all the metrics you should follow in your call center, though, your first call resolution rate (FCR) is the most important.

If your first call resolution rate is good, then your customer satisfaction score, net promoter score, and other customer satisfaction metrics will likely be high as well.

Why is this? 

The single most important thing for your call center’s health and growth is ensuring customers who call are happy with the answers they get. 

And while CSAT, NPS, and other customer-centric metrics might give you a pretty good idea of how happy your customers are, the first call resolution rate puts it all into perspective. It shows that your agents know what they’re doing and can give your customers the answers they need within their first call, without needing to follow up again later.

Not only is your first call resolution rate a great indicator of how well-treated your customers are, but it’s a really good metric for assessing your team’s productivity as well. Your team is going to be able to help a lot more customers at a quicker rate if they can get them the answers they need on their first call, rather than going back and forth with the same callers repeatedly.

At the end of the day, keeping customers happy is the key to brand loyalty, and one of the best ways to make sure your customers stick with you is going above and beyond for them. Your first call resolution rate is a good metric for assessing that.

Ways to Improve Your Team’s First Call Resolution

If your team’s first call resolution rate isn’t as sparkling as you want it to be, there are a number of ways you can improve this metric.

Build a Workforce Management Team of Experts 

You can’t be everywhere and everything for everyone. A team of experts to focus only on workforce management will help you with one of the most important factors that plays into your FCR: scheduling. 

Workforce management is all about knowing how many agents need to be scheduled at a certain time, then monitoring these levels to ensure you’re always operating at optimal capacity. It’s also about making sure calls get directed to the best agent trained in handling a customer’s issue or query. 

When you get the right number of agents in the right place, you’ll increase your first call resolution rate as a natural consequence.

A good first call resolution doesn’t just magically happen: it’s the direct result of your team working efficiently. 

And for that to happen, you need the right systems, scheduling process, and tools to increase your FCR organically.

Get the Software That Improves FCR

Thankfully, there’s plenty of technology that can help your team improve its FCR rates. Here are some of the essential software applications to get for your tool stack:

Omnichannel Communication CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

A communication CRM allows you to engage with customers in real time and collect their information and conversations in one place. This allows your entire organization to revert to a single point of truth; everything about a customer’s history is stored in one central location that all agents can instantly access.

When agents are already familiar with a customer’s background and what they’re likely to be looking for, they’ll be able to direct the caller to the right place, thus making it easier to fix their issue on the first go.

Call Routing Software

Call routing software helps you automatically redirect customers to the most appropriate agent. For instance, if someone needs technical help, they’ll be directed to the agents who possess technical expertise. Likewise, if they need financial help, they’ll be directed to the agents who specialize in financial questions and issues.

When your callers are getting directed to the right agents every time, there’s a good chance their calls will get resolved on the first call.

Call Monitoring Software

Call monitoring software isn’t about micromanaging your agents. Rather, when used as a training tool, it can help your team perform better by identifying areas of improvement. 

This type of software can also help you identify common issues or problems that customers typically face, helping you better refine your training and coaching sessions.

Calling Line ID Software

Calling Line ID tools allow agents to see the name and number of any caller before they even answer the call. This enables them to offer a customized experience, from the way they address the customer to how they help them fix their issues.

Knowledge Base Software

This one’s a biggie. Just like your CRM offers a single point of truth for customer information and history, a well-functioning knowledge base offers a central location for FAQs, tutorials, technical sheets, and any other piece of information your agents might need to solve their customers’ issues.

In addition to the actual software options, there are also call center services that come with their own knowledge base tools, processes, and support teams. They can help you manage entire call center teams from anywhere.

Train Your Agents With FCR In Mind

For a long time, average call duration was the primary metric used to train, assess, and reward call center agents. While it continues to be a fair point of reference, it’s far from perfect.

Training your agents with FCR in mind is a smarter option, as it’s rooted in the quality of customer service provided rather than the quantity of calls an agent gets through.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Build teams of dedicated trainers who can help other agents improve their FCR.
  • Make sure your KPIs are clear—rather than just saying “Better FCR,” give specific numbers that show what “better” looks like.
  • Set up regular quality assurance training sessions, listen to call recordings, and provide constructive feedback.
  • In addition to listening to call recordings, set up a program for real-time monitoring that allows you to give instant feedback; this is especially helpful for new agents.
  • Offer rewards and recognition for agents and teams that consistently improve their FCR rate.

A subpar FCR rate isn’t just your agents’ issue—it’s a systemic problem. 

When agents are trained to have a customer-first mindset, they’ll work to address issues fully, not just quickly. The difference between the two is paramount: one focuses on what the customer needs, the other one focuses on numbers in a spreadsheet.

Provide your agents with everything they need to aim for a good first call resolution rate, including the best trainers, the best training software, and efficient call center quality monitoring tools.

Create Self-Service Systems That Customers Love to Use

Not every problem needs a human agent—and many customers prefer to take the DIY route if it saves them time and allows them to answer their own questions quickly.

Some self-service systems you could implement include:

  • AI chatbots, which you can train on your knowledge base and FAQs to answer the most common customer inquiries
  • An interactive knowledge base customers can access anytime, anywhere
  • IVR systems that can identify the customer’s issue and offer potential solutions
  • Customized tutorials or explainer videos to help customers troubleshoot common issues on their own

Measuring First Call Resolution

In theory, FCR is pretty easy to measure:

FCR: Number of customer issues resolved on their first call / Total number of first interactions (multiply this by 100 to get a percentage)

However, there’s more nuance when it comes to measuring FCR than with other metrics.

A lot of it depends on the specific product or service you offer. For instance, an onboarding software may take several calls to close out, whereas a new mobile data subscription can probably get handled with a single call.

Use your experience, discretion, and industry knowledge to set a realistic FCR goal for your team. Make sure you define what a resolved call means for your call center. Track how many customers call back regarding the same issue. Then, look beyond the numbers to see if these repeat calls could’ve been prevented

Sometimes, even with all the best practices and processes in place, your customer might still need to be transferred to another agent—and you should take that into account when setting your goals. Be realistic and focus on delivering value for customers, rather than getting stuck in idealistic numbers.

5 Best Practices for First Call Resolution

Your FCR doesn’t exist in a vacuum—many other call center metrics can be linked to it. 

Here are some of the essential best practices to follow when you want to increase and maintain a good first call resolution rate:

Make Sure the Customer Effort is Minimal

The key to keeping customers happy is twofold: give them what they need, and make it incredibly easy for them to get it. 

Don’t send customers searching for information, and don’t make them undergo complicated processes.

Essentially, don’t waste their time.

Teach Agents to Be Precise, Not Complex

Some issues are complex—it’s unavoidable. But most can be narrowed down pretty quickly to the simplest solutions.

Whenever possible, make sure your agents know how to be surgically precise: they need to know how to ask the right questions so they can narrow the issue down to the simplest solutions.

Collect Feedback to Anticipate Needs

Nobody can read minds, but collecting feedback is the closest thing to it in a call center. 

The more feedback you have about your customers’ issues, frustrations, and impediments, the more you can anticipate their needs—so, whenever possible, ask them to share their thoughts with you. Notice what issues keep coming up. Implement solutions to solve these problems.

Answer All Questions Customers Have

If your customer has two or more questions, make sure your agents answer them all. 

You can’t say you have a good first call resolution rate if your call center consistently addresses only half of the problems your customers have.

Keep Agents Motivated

Growth charts, Slack kudos, and congratulatory emails are all nice—but if you want to keep your agents motivated, you should provide real rewards. The better your reward system is, the more your agents will feel motivated to perform at a higher level.

At the end of the day, your first call resolution should be a natural consequence of a top-tier training program and efficient systems—and that all starts at the top with good management.