FCR: As important today as it was 10 years ago – and with a lot of potential for the future
Ten years ago, in the very first article of the week in a still young junokai, Henning Ahlert (founder and Managing Partner until the end of 2022) wrote about increasing the first contact resolution (FCR) rate. His demand at the time: The agent in customer service should please ask the customer at the end of the contact whether his concern had been resolved to his satisfaction. If this was not the case, then it would be the agent’s responsibility to bring about a solution immediately and directly. To do this, he or she would have to obtain further information or involve other areas of the company, such as a 2nd level.
Today, FCR is still one of, if not the core KPI we look at in our projects and its increase is often a goal in the projects. FCR can be measured in different ways. It is often determined via a customer survey following a customer interaction („Was your concern resolved in the first contact?“). In this survey, the NPS® (Net Promoter Score) is then frequently queried in addition to the FCR. Alternatively, the leading customer data system (such as a CRM system) can be used to determine whether the customer has contacted you again about the same issue within X days. Depending on how large X is, we speak of an FCR 3 (a renewed inquiry on the same topic occurred within 3 days), FCR 7, or FCR 30. And of course, the FCR can also be recorded by the agent in the contact itself as described above, documented in the CRM system, and then evaluated.
The added value of FCR as a core KPI in customer service has already been described very well by Jonas Leismann in Article KW 2-2023, and already in 2019 Gerhard Klose dedicated himself to the same topic in Article KW25-2019.
FCR enhancement is often detail work
The basis for increasing FCR continues to be precise knowledge of the type and nature of customer inquiries (customer contact analysis) and a detailed understanding of the underlying processes (process management). Thus, the best possible recording of the reasons for contact and their evaluation is required. We at junokai then use these contact reasons to create a map of customer processes (process map) along the customer lifecycle. In a process matrix, we then record the quantities, processing time, complexity (based on the expert opinion of the agents) and also already a possible automation potential of the individual customer concerns or customer processes. And depending on the need, the processes are then analyzed and documented in great detail. This often requires meticulous detailed work.
The benefit of this work is easy to explain. In accordance with the value-irritant matrix, we want to identify the customer contacts that no longer need to occur by optimizing the product or the internal processes, i.e., we use the „closed loop“ to ensure that the reasons for the contacts go to the relevant specialist departments to be remedied there. Furthermore, we ensure the optimization of customer service processes or implement possible partial or full automation of processes. And all this with the aim of increasing FCR. In this endeavor, we are increasingly supported by AI-driven new technologies. In the case of incoming contacts, the reasons for contact can be better recorded by AI and the contacts can be classified more clearly and then distributed (routed) to the employees. Furthermore, the automation of the customer inquiry can be further optimized with the help of AI, e.g. in chat or voicebots.
AI reduces processing times and increases first-time fix rates
In my view, however, the simultaneous real-time support of agents by AI will become much more important in the near future. By having a (virtual) assistant capture the context of the customer interaction on-the-fly and prepare and suggest possible solutions to the agent in real time, a lot of (handling) time will be saved on the one hand, and on the other hand, the quality of the answers will also be improved and provided with more continuity. And here again, in addition to saving time, the ultimate goal is to increase FCR.
Even if the technologies, especially in the field of AI, are currently developing at more than breakneck speed, making massive optimization possible and changes necessary in customer service as well, some manual tasks, such as detailed process management, will continue to be very important. We should make targeted use of AI here to accelerate these changes and implement them with higher quality. And we will continue to optimize FCR in the coming years. Because with values that are sometimes below 50%, there is still a lot of room for improvement here.
I’m excited about the next 500 Articles of the Week and look forward to the exciting developments in customer service in the coming years.
Sven Beiling – Managing Director