9 Steps for Using Data to Improve First Call Resolution

7 Min Read

Have you ever called customer service, gone through an extensive phone tree, gotten transferred, and still had to call back the next day? If so, you know how frustrating it can be to not get an answer on the first try. Your customers feel the same. They want answers from their first contact—in other words, they want you to have a good first call resolution (FCR). 

When it comes to improving your customer service FCR, you need to evaluate a range of data. Customer satisfaction rates (CSAT) are a nice springboard, but they don’t offer deep insight. Average handle time (AHT) is great for understanding agent efficiency, but not for understanding whether procedures are being followed. Examining several types of customer service data will help your customer retention rate, which has long-term dividends for your reputation. Using that data wisely will improve your business. 

Here are nine steps you can take for using data to improve your FCR.

1. Collect reliable data using a time-saving tool.

The first step to working with data is always, well, having good data. To get that, you’ll need a good data collection and analytics tool. You may be handy with a spreadsheet, but it’s very helpful to have your data collection, analytics, and coaching all in one place. You want to be able to look at your data in the proper context, especially when it comes to FCR versus other metrics. It’s especially helpful to be able to automate QA scorecards and CSAT score collection that identifies customer support tickets with many interactions. MaestroQA, for example, offers dashboards to identify why (the root cause) a customer query required a customer to reach out to customer support multiple times and ultimately take action to improve first call resolution.  

2. Hone in on QA rubrics. 

In addition to using the right tool, make sure your data collection within that tool is set up to catch the information you want. Collect QA data, in particular, that is specific enough to be helpful but general enough to be grouped into buckets. You’ll also want CSAT and AHT scores. 

3. Use QA scores to check agent adherence to best practices.

Are your agents following the policies and best practices you’ve outlined in your training? If not, there are a couple of fixes, depending on whether the issues are systemic or individual. You may need to update your training to be more clear on your expectations. Or, you may need to offer coaching sessions to individuals to discover why they aren’t following policy and help them correct course. 

4. Create CSAT benchmarks. 

How do your customers feel about their experiences when they contact customer service? This metric will be a helpful benchmark as you look to improve first call resolution. It should positively correlate with FCR. (If it doesn’t go up as your FCR goes up, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting.) Check in with industry benchmarks, and set a goal for your team. 

Remember: CSAT alone does not give you enough information to take action, and simply chasing CSAT isn’t necessarily helpful. Examining your CSAT holistically is a separate project. But to improve FCR, you do need to understand where your CSAT stands. 

5. Use AHT for context on customer experience. 

Average handle time (AHT) doesn’t tell you whether a client’s problem was solved, but it does give you another data point to use. It can help you put yourself in a customer’s shoes. If your CSAT is lower than you want, and your AHT is high, perhaps your customers are frustrated by long calls. Or perhaps they wouldn’t mind long calls if their question was answered on the first try. 

Remember: AHT often negatively correlates with first call resolution, so use this stat in context. 

6. Mine your data for common “root cause” questions.

Sometimes a customer gets their initial question answered, but they end up calling again because they have a deeper “root cause” question. Run a query on the topics covered in subsequent calls. When you contrast those topics with the original reasons that customers call, you may find that your agents need to ask more follow-up questions on their first calls. You may find that you need to build out your knowledge base further. Or, you may find that your product or website needs tweaking. 

7. Use QA scores to search for more insight.

Keep that QA data tab open! If your QA data is inconsistent, you’ll need to dig deeper to find the root problem. Perhaps your agents lack a critical tool, such as a robust knowledge base, and are attempting to compensate for that on their own. Perhaps a lack of rigorous training or coaching resources means senior agents spend all their time helping newer agents. Bring in a few agents for this process—they’ll be able to help you see the pain points they’re experiencing. 

8. Make changes as needed. 

The above steps should give you ample rationale for making certain changes. Now is a good time to consider investing in more resources such as training or coaching. You may need to optimize your knowledge base or adjust your budget to hire some new agents. This is the part of your plan that will get you results. 

9. Implement a follow-up plan. 

You’ve done the hard work at this point. Now, set some calendar reminders to periodically review your updated data and check in on your progress toward your goals. You’ll likely need to recalibrate a bit as you pinpoint the factors that affect your particular FCR. For some extra encouragement, don’t forget to celebrate your wins along the way. Building loyalty and trust with your customers is a worthwhile investment. 

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