The Must Have Method on How to Measure First Call Resolution

People seem confused on how to measure first call resolution. This insecurity on how to quantify the success of call center interaction results in the continuing degradation of customer care quality in the business world, and increases the disdain that customers have for call centers in general.

This is unfortunate, because there really is a sure fire answer to how to measure first call resolution. This only seems like a mystifying topic because of the presence of the human element, which often brings about some serious uncertainties into any equation. However, for this, it’s not really that big of an issue.

So, let’s take a look at how we might measure first call resolution, so that this may be demystified for the rest of time. This will hopefully make it possible for companies to improve dreadful call center experiences for the sake of everyone’s mental health henceforth.

Let’s look at the anatomy of a support call first. It consists really of three parts: the initial exchange, statement of the problem and Q&A, and finally, resolution either positive or negative of the issue at hand. Each of these three aspects needs to be measured first independently and then as a whole.

First, the initial exchange involves a greeting, and confirmation of the right department being reached, as well as the practicality of the two parties communicating. If during this initial exchange, clarification is needed more than twice on a single aspect (name, department or understandability), then the call was probably destined to go wrong, and this is likely the root of it. Poor communications are a serious issue with call centers. Despite seeming a bit not-politically-correct, it is absolutely paramount that call center personnel be highly fluent if not native speakers of the language in question. A rule of measurement there is, would you entrust this individual to teach the language to someone else? If so, they’re probably qualified. Otherwise, not so much.

The second one involves stating the question or problem, and the sequence of bi-directional questions and answers between the customer and the agent. During this process, if a question was difficult to ask or answer between either party, to the point this question took as long as the sum of the rest, then the call’s level of success for resolution is diminished.

Customers cannot help if they’re flustered or not the best speakers, so their questions or answers being a bit fudged can’t be held against the call. However, the agent’s inability to work with this efficiently is an issue to be addressed. Sadly, this is mostly a question of practice and learned intuition.

Finally, the resolution, which is not always positive, is to be measured. If the customer feels that their question or problem has been addressed properly, it means no further resolution must be sought with a future call. If the problem cannot be fixed, then the customer will leave the call feeling they can’t fix the problem by calling again at a later date.

If the problem can be fixed, then it’s obvious that the problem should be fixed, or the question answered. This one’s a bit of a given, but the negative resolution from a moment ago is often overlooked as being a resolution at all.

Now that we’ve dissected the call, let’s assign a measurement for the whole of the call. A call will start out with 10 points, the more points remaining at the end, the better. The problem with section one costs two points. The problem with section two costs four points, and the problem with section 3 costs nine points. A successful call should retain at least six points afterward, in order to be considered acceptably successful. The third issue costs all but one point, as it is not a first call resolution if a problem arises here.

This is just a simple method for how to measure first call resolution, and it’s not one that the call center employees should be aware of, but it’s a great metric for improving the nightmare that is telephone customer service.

is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe