Your customers don’t call your IT help desk to resolve their technical issues. They call to resolve their technical issues immediately.
Your customers want you to resolve their issues on the first call as often as possible. So, if you want to deliver outstanding help desk services, you need to look at your First Call Resolution Rate (FCR).
Here’s what it is, what it’s not, why it matters so much … and how to improve yours.
What Exactly IS a First Call Resolution Rate?
First Call Resolution Rate is a metric that indicates the proportion of support requests that your help desk agents resolve during the first call that users make to your help desk.
Let’s dive a little deeper:
- A first-rate rate: First Call Resolution is a rate, always expressed as a percentage.
- One ring to rule them all: The higher your FCR rate, the more calls you are resolving with one, and only one, call. The closer you are to 100%, the better.
- No fears for tiers: FCR isn’t concerned with the number of tiers involved or the time involved. Issues that are resolved at the first call will cause your other support tiers to shout with glee at the capacity they get back.
Six Benefits of Getting IT Right the First Time
When your help desk resolves IT support requests on the first call, you improve productivity, increase sales, optimize payroll, reduce costs, and plenty more.
- Better customer satisfaction by extension: If you think your users and customers are already upset when they call your help desk, see what happens when you tell them you are going to have to hang up and call them back, sometime. Soon. Promise. It isn’t pretty. Resolving as many support calls as possible during that first contact improves your customer satisfaction score.
- For more productivity, press 1: When users are on the phone with you, they aren’t doing their jobs. Resolving their issue during their first call returns them to being productive sooner.
- Fewer calls, more sales: Customers will stand at your retail checkout counters for only so long while your staff troubleshoots a register or POS device over the phone with your help desk. Resolve their issue on the first call, and the customer stays.
- Busy, not busy signals: A worker on the phone with your help desk is not able to do their job but you are still paying them. Resolving their support request during that first call not only returns them to productivity but also optimizes payroll for your tier 2 and tier 3 agents who are now free to resolve the technical issues that are causing the tier 1 calls in the first place.
- Call a halt: Support requests that are resolved during the first call are usually resolved by Tier 1 agents, your least-expensive agents. The higher your FCR score, the less money you have to spend on salaries, benefits, and other HR-related costs for your costlier Tier 2 and Tier 3 agents.
- No more phone tag: In some industries, when one worker stops, everything starts to get backlogged. Think hospitals, manufacturing plants, airline check-in counters. When you resolve support requests during the first call, you shorten the impact of this ripple effect on other workers.
The Danger of Relying Only on FCR
One thing to remember about your FCR rate is that you must never evaluate it in isolation. Your FCR rate measures your performance on the first call, not your overall efficiency and not your cost-effectiveness.
Think Complexity, Not Just Calls
Your FCR rate doesn’t tell you anything about the types of tickets you are resolving. If you are resolving most calls quickly and with your first tier, they are likely simple issues.
If, however, most FCR calls involve escalation and a lot of time, that’s a red flag, indicating your agents may not be well-equipped to handle the complexity of your users’ IT issues.
Compare FCR with the Average Cost Per Ticket
Your FCR rate tells you the percentage of requests you resolved during the first call, but not how much those requests cost you to resolve.
For example, complex issues take longer to resolve because they are escalated. This escalation drives up your cost per ticket. The higher cost per ticket impacts your staff's ability to handle the workload. Ouch. Always compare your Average Cost Per Ticket with your FCR rate.
One and Done! (Or, How to Boost Low FCR Rates)
If you notice you aren’t resolving as many help desk requests during the first call as you’d like to, look for the common causes of low FCR rates—and then remedy them.
Get clear early
One of the leading causes of low FCR rates is agents who do not establish the nature of a technical issue early on in the call. They assume wrong, and so an issue that could be resolved in one call takes two or more calls, all because the first agent didn’t take the time and energy to understand the issue.
Get it in writing
Your help desk is in the repetition business. Your agents answer the same questions and troubleshoot the same issues, day in, and day out. So put that in writing. Document all processes.
Make sure your agents follow your documented processes. Common requests resolved in the same way improve your FCR rates by reducing the need to place follow-up calls to your customers.
Keep your knowledgebase current
Make sure your agents document what they do and the troubleshooting steps they take. Add these steps to your knowledge for use by other agents. The right answers, easily found, empower your agents to resolve issues the first time around.
Your First Call Resolution rate isn’t the only metric you must measure, monitor, and manage, but it’s close. If you want to improve worker productivity, increase sales, optimize payroll, and eliminate inefficiencies company-wide, your FCR rate is a good place to start. Boosting your FCR rate improves your cost of support.
If you need help calculating the cost of your help desk, check out our Help Desk Cost Calculator.