Unlocking the Mystery of First Contact Resolution

Contact Centers seem to be turning some of their focus away from the “old school” metrics of service level achievement – e.g. percent of calls answered in x seconds, average speed of answer and average talk time. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying these goals are not on company’s radar. I am suggesting that resolution on the first try or “one and done,” might be becoming more important than standard SLAs.

Think about it. When I call my bank, doctor, etc., I don’t care as much about how long I have to wait, but I do care if someone can answer my question or resolve my issue. I care more about what it takes to fix my problem on the first try and if the company takes ownership. If they don’t know the answer on the first contact, it’s OK, as long as they respond and resolve my issue in a reasonable amount of time.

It’s clear that first contact resolution can mean different things to different customers. How long is acceptable for a resolution? Is more than one contact acceptable per transaction? Here are four things you can do to find out where you stand with your customers and how to define the first contact resolution metric:

1) Ask your customer what is acceptable in their eyes – it might be within a business day or two contacts (one inbound, one outbound return.) Are they happy with the time it takes today? Survey them. You might be surprised by what you hear.

2) Review your technology and systems – How do you measure it today? Do you have the tools to measure the results? I always advocate the customer use an all-in-one CRM solution to coincide with an all-in-one interaction solution. It is critical that all the customer touch points are gated through your communication solution, and that the transaction can be matched correctly with each appropriate interaction.

3) Review each customer-related process – you need to map out every reason and driver of an interaction to a transaction and understand where it goes and how it is resolved. Try to answer these questions:

  • Are you relying on a manager or supervisor to get approval or are agents forced to reach out to other departments to get an answer?
  • Do other departments have access to the same application? Can they enter in interaction detail for the transaction you are researching?
  • Are there internal SLAs across departments to support quick and timely resolution?
  • Do other departments update transactions/interactions and automatically notify agents working the issues with customers?

4) Gather objective data – Look for quantitative data, such as cycle times to resolution and number of interactions per transaction resolution. This information should be captured in your CRM system, and tie in with data from your interaction solution. From the qualitative perspective, you could include customer survey feedback results around those interactions for the particular transaction.

Once you have these baselines established, you can start to see your actual first contact resolution or multi-contact resolution ratio. After you have collected at least three months of data, establish targets and share the goals with your team members.

Do you have other suggestions as to how to measure this metric? How do you measure it today? Please let me know how you tackle this measurement, and I may share your input in a future blog post!



Todd Marthaler

Todd Marthaler

I am a 20 year veteran of the contact center field and a Contact Center Strategic Consultant with Interactive Intelligence since April 2013. Before joining Interactive, I was a business analyst and client services manager for a top Interactive Intelligence partner. I’ve managed several multichannel and multi-site contact center operations with Fortune 500 Companies in the retail, hospitality, utility, and service verticals. I have a passion for positioning the companies I service to deliver the ultimate customer experience. I also have expertise in IVR and call flow design, workforce management Implementation, workflow optimization, operations management, quality assurance and voice of the customer programs. In addition to speaking and consulting engagements, I frequently write for Contact Center Pipeline, present at partner events and deliver educational webinars. I’ve been an active member of ICMI and SOCAP. I hold a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in Journalism and a master’s certificate from St. Catherine’s University in Organizational Leadership.