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  • Writer's pictureNouran Smogluk

How to Measure and Improve First Contact Resolution (FCR) in Zendesk

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First Contact Resolution is a great metric for many businesses because it reflects both customer satisfaction and efficiency. 


Customers tend to be happier when their issues are resolved quickly, and resolving issues in fewer contacts is more efficient for the company.


That all sounds great–but there’s a lot to keep in mind to use FCR in a way that leads to positive results for your customers.


What is First Contact Resolution (FCR)?


First contact resolution (FCR) is a metric used to measure the performance of a customer service team in resolving customer inquiries on the initial contact. Sometimes it’s called first call resolution, first touch resolution, or one-touch resolution rate.


It's the percentage of issues that are solved right away, during the first interaction between the customer and the agent, whether it's a phone call, email, or chat conversation.


The formula for calculating it is very simple: (Number of inquiries resolved on first contact / Total number of inquiries received) x 100 = FCR %


For example, you might receive 5000 tickets in a month and 4000 of those are resolved with one contact. That means your FCR is at 80%.


Klaus’s 2023 Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report placed the FCR benchmark at around 70%, so 80% would be above average. 


Why First Contact Resolution (FCR) is hard to measure accurately, in Zendesk and other tools


FCR is one of the most difficult metrics to measure accurately, especially for phone support. It’s a little easier in chat and email but will still have problems – and this is true across all tools you might be working with, including Zendesk.


  • Customers can respond to a solved ticket with a question about something that’s completely unrelated to their initial question. This should technically count as a ticket that was solved in one touch, but virtually no customer service software can make that distinction.

  • Customers can also create a new ticket (or open a new chat or call) with a follow-up about a question that they asked the day before. It’s easy to track repeat contacts and you can define some kind of cut-off point so if customers contact within a day, the previous ticket is not considered a one-touch resolution but if they contact after a week, it is. This adds a lot of complexity to how you measure FCR, though. 


The best way to measure First Contact Resolution in Zendesk is by using ticket statuses:


  • When an agent answers a ticket to the best of their ability and they believe it provided enough information to solve it, the ticket should be set to “solved.”

  • Customers then get a couple of days to react to the response and reopen it if they need to.

  • After those days are up, the ticket is automatically set to “closed” which means that it can no longer be opened.

  • In this case if the customer follows up, a fresh ticket will be created.

  • That means FCR is always measured with a little lag, so you only consider FCR in closed (not solved) tickets.


Typically, most companies just accept that there’s going to be some inaccuracy and it isn’t possible to avoid it. In all fairness, it doesn’t really matter if your FCR rate is measured at 75% but in actual fact it’s 77% because some customers reopen cases. 


Instead, FCR is good to track when you’re measuring its trajectory and how it develops over time. It’s also good to see where you sit in comparison to your industry.


Five strategies to improve FCR


Improving FCR is a worthwhile goal for most customer support teams. A better FCR rate should translate to more satisfied customers and a more efficient customer service team.


That said, it’s important to remember that FCR is not a KPI that can (or should) get to 100%. 


If 100% of your contacts are solved with one response, you have one of two problems:


  • Your customers are dropping out of your interactions because they’re frustrated (and that’s why none of them respond). Very high FCR rates can correlate with massive wall-of-text responses that no one wants to read. 

  • Or it means that you have a massive potential for self-service and your customers are interacting with you as a replacement for a help center.


That’s why it’s always good to have a measured response to FCR. You can observe it going up or down but you cannot make a unilateral judgment about whether that’s good or bad for your customer experience, without also comparing other KPIs. 


For example, you also want to see high CSAT rates or low contact rates in combination with a high FCR rate. 


With that in mind, these are the top five strategies to increase your FCR across all channels. 


Conduct a root cause analysis


As with every KPI, you really need specific information to understand what’s driving the extra replies. 


Manually checking tickets that were not resolved on the first contact and trying to categorize what the underlying issue was is the best way to start. Here’s an example of what those categories might look like: 


  • Insufficient information provided initially

  • Need for escalation to higher support levels

  • Complex or multi-step issues

  • Customer follow-ups for clarification or additional questions

  • Technical issues that required troubleshooting


You can come up with a separate strategy to tackle each of these issues. 


Roll out a QA program


One way to improve the amount of information your agents provide in the initial response is to roll out a QA program


There are so many advantages to QA–a potential improvement in FCR is one of the smaller ones:

  • It can help you identify opportunities for improvement across the board, not only for individual agent performance but also in your processes and quality of support.

  • It makes it much easier to provide a consistent, high-quality experience because it helps you define a standard that you’re aiming for with each interaction.

  • You can include mechanisms for recognizing and rewarding high-performing agents, which boosts morale and motivation across the team.


Create great internal documentation


Internal documentation is one of the best tools to ensure everyone in your team has access to the right information they need. 


Some products have such a broad range of features with many singular issues that impact a customer maybe once a month. If you have a team of ten agents, that means each agent might come across once or twice a year. You need a way to document those types of solutions and make them accessible to everyone in the team no matter what.


If you’re struggling to invest the time in creating detailed and comprehensive internal docs, investing in a tool like our Answer Search app could be an alternative because it makes it possible for your team to access knowledge that’s already available in your help desks. 


Implement great routing workflows


Another very common cause of a low FCR rate is processes that require agents to route tickets manually. 


Having to reassign tickets, either to escalate them to a more technical team or simply to send them over to the specialized team that’s responsible for that case, already eats up the first response. This could be improved with automatic ticket categorization or setting up something like skill-based routing to ensure tickets are always sent to the right team member. 


Collect info at the point of ticket creation


You might find that a significant proportion of tickets that require multiple replies need that because your agents first have to pull information from your customers. 


That’s a sign that you have a huge opportunity to ask for more information while customers create that ticket. Here are some ways to improve that process:


  • Use conditional logic in your forms so that additional fields appear based on the customer's responses. This means that only relevant information is requested, so it’s still an efficient process for all customers.

  • Include dynamic help prompts and tooltips in the ticket form to explain to customers why particular fields are necessary. 

  • Use customer profiles to pre-fill known information, for example, if customers have contacted you previously and about what.


These work for email and chat but might not work as well for phone support. In that case, you might need to include instructions before a customer is connected to an agent telling them what they need to have within reach so you can reduce the need for follow-up calls.


Building a happier and more productive customer support team


FCR can be a fun metric to work with when it’s used to ensure your team is equipped to handle issues efficiently and effectively.


Not only does this lead to increased customer satisfaction, but it also boosts agent morale by reducing the frustration of unresolved tickets and repeated customer interactions.


At Swifteq, we offer a comprehensive suite of solutions designed to streamline your customer support processes and help your team do more with less.




 




Written by Nouran Smogluk

Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She writes for Supported Content and also blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experience.


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