Is FCR Really the King of Customer Service Metrics?

Is FCR Really the King of Customer Service Metrics?

September 8, 2021

FCR has long been used as a key metric in customer service, right from the time when customer service was only voice calls and FCR was First Call Resolution. Now with a shift to more blended and omnichannel support through email/chat/voice/bots — this metric has been renamed to First Contact Resolution.

But does FCR apply to text/email conversations as much as it does for calls? Is your team incentivizing performance on the wrong metric?

Why is FCR a key metric

FCR became a primary metric because most support was serviced by call centers. It meant that the support request was resolved in one call. You would usually put the caller on hold, get help from someone else, connect them to someone else, and then resolve the issue.

A call is also synchronous with an exchange of messages within the same conversation, allowing the agent to ask the right questions and for the customer to give more detailed information on the problem.

So, with regard to call centers, if the case is resolved before the customer gets off the phone, then it is counted as an FCR.

Traditionally, this led to better satisfaction, as it is shown to correlate with CSAT. Also, if the issue is resolved in the first call, it usually means that a resolution was reached in minutes.

Support is now omni-channel

When it comes to emails or online forms that are largely asynchronous, how does the FCR metric hold up?

Similar to calls, an email has multiple exchanges in the form of numerous emails in the same email thread. But the difference is that it is asynchronous and can take several hours between each reply.

How likely is it for the case to be resolved in the very first email exchange? Very low. This can be because the issue might not be fully explained to the agent. A critical screenshot is missing. Many reasons.

What if you consider the entire email chain as the first contact? But this could go on for many days, so does it still count as a first contact resolution?

Although chats may be comparatively similar to calls, the argument and confusion on the first contact still remain.

Also, how do you compare the success of voice support vs text support when the metric is skewed towards the voice.

What can replace FCR?

While looking at the reasons for why FCR is a good metric for calls, we can break it down into 2 parts:

  • If the customer is calling, you have to have agents who are able to answer a call within a specified holding time. Research says that 51% of respondents expect a response in under 5 minutes on the phone.
  • After the customer and agent connect, a first call resolution would mean that the issue was resolved in a matter of minutes or at most an hour.

This makes it clear that we need to look at how quickly was I connected with an agent? And how soon was my issue resolved?

These 2 questions are answered by the following metrics:

  • Time to respond
  • Time to resolve

The takeaway is that for text-based interactions, a better measure of efficiency is time to resolution from initial customer request.

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