In this day and age, any organisation handling client or customer calls is under tremendous pressure to deliver a first-class customer experience (CX). Users expect that personal touch and white glove shine when they make contact, and part of the way an organisation can facilitate this is by upping its first-contact resolution rate. First-contact or first-call resolution (FCR) refers to a contact centre’s ability to deal with a user’s problem, enquiry or issue at the first time of asking, with no callback or repeat calls required. Essentially, it’s how well your support team can facilitate ‘one-and-done’ contact incidences.

And, just like with all other companies and organisations, this matters for charities – a lot. There’s a reason that over 60% of contact centres actively measure FCR, after all. But with the standard first-call resolution rate sitting at 70-75% across all industries (Call Centre Helper), an inability to deliver your clients a solution immediately can negatively impact quality customer service and lead to damaging customer feedback. At Call Handling, we have 30+ years of helping charities provide outstanding CX and rewarding user journeys, so we well understand the importance of FCR in the charity sector. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what FCR is and why it matters to your support agents, before overviewing some tips for improving first-call resolution in your charity.

What is First-Call Resolution?

FCR is one of those useful communications metrics that essentially does exactly what it says on the tin.

First contact resolution occurs when a service agent (or tool) adequately and satisfactorily deals with a customer or client’s needs the very first time they make contact with your charity or organisation. This means there is no need for an escalation, a follow-up, or to be re-routed, or to arrange a callback. You can think of it as a ‘one-and-done’ interaction, and it’s a gold standard benchmark of client/contact centre operations.

FCR is a part of CRM (customer relationship management), in that it’s one part of the process by which a contact centre administers interactions with customers and clients.

Measuring FCR Rates

Anyone with any experience in client service knows that people don’t like to wait. Customers are impatient when they want service. Being routed to the wrong department is aggravating; having a query bounced around call centres is frustrating; needing to wait by the phone for call centre agents to call back is exasperating.

It stands to reason, then, that high levels of CX are strongly correlated with FCR; a figure that illustrates the percentage of contacts who have their issue solved on the first interaction.

Does First Call Resolution Only Apply to Voice-Based Interactions?

In the modern, omnichannel era, first-contact resolution doesn’t exclusively deal with voice-based contact; it extends to include other mediums such as web chat, and this expands the number of ways your charity must satisfactorily deal with enquiries straight off the bat. If an interaction necessitates a callback, or is escalated to another agent, it cannot qualify for FCR, and represents an opportunity lost.

Emails, which typically make up a large proportion of all service desk contacts, have a comparable standard; they are deemed as having been effectively handled if the client receives a conclusive response within one business hour, but there is some debate as to whether this can strictly be included in the calculation of FCR.

A resolution is usually recorded either by an agent checking a box, or by clients completing a follow-up satisfaction survey.

How to Calculate First Contact Resolution Rate

Some contact centres, seeking to gain a more nuanced or granular level of insight, split FCR into gross and net models.

  • Gross FCR

This incorporates all inbound calls and contacts, and makes no allowances or adjustments for enquiries that cannot be resolved at the first time of asking; in this way, it is a more unforgiving metric. The contact resolution rate formula for gross FCR is as follows:

Gross FCR = number of queries resolved at first contact ÷ total number of queries

  • Net FCR

Conversely, net FCR takes into consideration those contacts that cannot be resolved initially, and makes adjustments based on that. The formula is:

Net FCR = number of queries resolved at first contact ÷ (all inbound contacts – contacts that cannot be resolved initially)

The Importance of FCR to Your Client or Customer Service Team

Most charities place a great emphasis on the humanistic, personal value of their service, and the likelihood is your charity is no different. Users who contact a charity – perhaps even more than in retail – want to be met with empathy, understanding, and a genuine willingness to help. So, even at a top level, it’s a good idea for your charity to pay close attention to FCR.

Below, we’ll dig a little deeper into the reasons why your charity should aim to deal with support requests quickly, efficiently and empathetically.

  • It keeps your clients happy

What is true for retailers and public entities is also true for charities: and there’s no complex psychology or intricate calculation needed on this point. Whatever their issue, when users have it dealt with at the first time of asking, they enjoy a vastly more positive experience. This will have the knock-on benefit of positive brand association for your charity, and you’ll be more likely to receive valuable feedback, as well as retain users or customers.

But while this truth is self-evident, the risks implicit in failing to achieve it are too significant to ignore. McKinsey report that 70% of client experiences are derived from how the user feels they are being treated at that moment, and Salesforce claim it takes 12 or more positive experiences to undo the damage caused by one negative experience.

If you’re interested in boosting your user journey and turning one-off enquiries into loyalty-building experiences, our VCC (Virtual Contact Centre) is the cloud-based omnichannel solution you need. It’s designed specifically to match your unique goals, boasts an impressive track record, and comes complete with our industry-leading support facilities. Contact us now for more details.

  • It can transform dissatisfaction into a positive experience

Issues frustrate users; that’s no secret. But if your charity is open to hearing the client out, and capable of providing a solution quickly, more often than not the user will be understanding of the situation and respect you for taking the time – not only to deal with them, but for reaching a resolution on the initial call.

A charity or company’s ability to turn dissatisfied customers into brand loyalists is contained in its capacity for customer service teams to deliver first-contact resolutions. Often, resolving a complaint or question without the need for a second call can make the difference between client or customer retention, and negative feedback.

  • It optimises the potential of your support department

When your client or customer service portal is able to handle and resolve a customer’s issue in one interaction, benefits run both ways. We’ve already seen how this can positively impact the client experience, but consider the gains to be made internally for your charity.

For instance, by resolving calls initially your contact centre will have fewer incidents of repeat calls, or users getting in touch about the same issue; therefore, your agents will have more time to deal with the contacts that they do receive. This will reduce waiting time for clients, and lead to a significant boost in your contact centre efficiency and productivity levels.

How to Improve Customer Relationship Management with First Call Resolution

Having established that FCR directly impacts good customer service and reduces client or customer churn, now is a good opportunity to demonstrate the steps you can take to improve it.

  1. Define desired outcomes: Aiming to ‘improve FCR’ is nowhere near clear enough. Set specific and realistic goals for your agents, alongside your contact centre software, to achieve.
  2. Ensure agents are adequately trained: Improving and expanding your internal knowledge base is crucial in boosting first-call resolution metrics. The skill and ability of your service teams to assist customers or clients are intrinsically linked to your initial resolution rate and agent productivity.
  3. Leverage performance analytics: Why implement the steps to improve FCR if you don’t have the infrastructure to reliably tell if they’ve been successful? Aim to track data around contact at all times – it’ll yield invaluable insight.
  4. Track omnichannel data: Don’t make the mistake of focussing solely on inbound phone calls, but overlooking web chat. A resolution rate encompasses multiple channels, so you’ll need to mine data from all the support channels you provide.
  5. Manage client expectations: Expecting clients to be reasonable and patient when they have an issue can be something of a minefield, but it can happen – if you communicate effectively and set expectations early. That means updating wait times, being proactive, and informing clients efficiently of relevant challenges that may affect them.

Goodbye Poor Customer Service, Hello Customer Satisfaction: Our VCC

As we’ve seen, an unresolved customer complaint, or a client enquiry left up in the air, is a major operational gap and a significant risk for your charity. The onus is on your support interactions to resolve client contacts at the very first time of asking. It’s a central tenet of great customer service, and a failure to do so will only frustrate and exasperate your clients, at best; at worst, your charity will fail to retain customers, see a painful increase in operating costs, a disappointing decrease in efficiency levels, and become known among users as a source of poor service. Hopefully, after reading this blog post, you have a better understanding of exactly why FCR matters for your charity, and the steps you can take to improve it.

At Call Handling, first-call resolutions in the charity sector – along with user journey, CSAT, service level, UX and retention rates – are our bread and butter. Over the years we’ve helped countless charities implement a future-proof, omnichannel and cloud-based contact centre in the shape of our VCC. Designed specifically for charities, it gives organisations just like yours the software infrastructure needed to offer professionalism with a human touch – each and every time a client makes contact.

Maximise your communications, and make your charity a pleasure for your clients to deal with. Book a demo today to find out how our VCC can take your communications to the next level.