HDI members are a group of community-minded problem solvers. They take their jobs of managing people, process, and technology quite seriously, but they also love to help each other excel in their careers. HDIConnect is a one-stop destination where HDI members gather for peer learning, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Today, I’m sharing a recent question from Connect about First Contact Resolution and my response.
Q: Hi all. I'm looking for a good definition of First Contact Resolution. Is there one, single definition that's the industry standard or does it vary slightly from company to company? My attitude for my team, right or wrong, has been that if it's a call into our support number, then it's "yes" to FCR if the issue is resolved during the call. That seems obvious. The real question comes in when dealing with tickets that come in through other methods.
If the issue comes in via an email (which auto-creates a ticket) or if a ticket is created from the self-service portal, then my attitude has been that if the analyst takes the ticket and solves it without having to ask the customer for anything it's FCR. I haven't put a time limit on this, for instance if an analyst grabs a ticket but doesn't work on it for a few hours or even a day or two. My attitude has been that, once the ticket is worked on, if the analyst is able to resolve it at that time, then it's FCR, regardless of if the ticket came in a day or two ago.
I hope this makes sense. Your thoughts and ideas will be much appreciated.—Jon H.
A: If you'd like a good industry definition of First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate, I recommend you use the definition contained in the HDI Support Center Certification Standard:
"The percentage of incidents resolved during the initial contact between the customer and the support center."
(See the HDI Standard for more details.) The HDI Standard is the recognized standard in the technical support industry for over a decade, used by hundreds of support centers to assess or audit their performance against a set of industry best-practices. It’s well accepted and proven to be applicable to all types of support centers, whether internal, external, local to a region, or global.
The important thing to remember is that when you do arrive at a set of metrics and KPIs for your support center, be sure that you make those definitions clear to all stakeholders: your support center team, other support groups, as well as customers and end users. Convey the definitions in your SLAs, OLAs between internal teams, and your incident management policy and procedure. That way everyone has the same definition and can interpret performance reports correctly.
The reason is obvious; the acronym FCR can often mean different things to different people. Some define it as "first call resolution," meaning the issue was resolved on the first phone call. Others might define it as the incident was resolved during first contact with the service desk, without escalation to other support groups. It’s important to note that interpretations can vary, and in your gathering of performance metrics, and in your reporting, it’s a good idea to be explicit about what you are measuring and include the definitions in an addendum to your report.
The other reason it’s useful to make these clarifications is that there are related metrics that many support centers use to measure contact performance, which are related to FCR but not the same thing. For example, a support center may also choose to measure the following indicators, in addition to the FCR rate:
Functional Escalation Within the Support Center. The number of incidents or requests escalated within the support center, due to policy or procedures, workload, or lack of knowledge/skills or expertise.
Functional Escalation Outside the Support Center. The number of incidents or requests escalated to support groups outside of the support center due to policy or procedures, workload, or lack of knowledge/skills or expertise.
If you have a form of tiered support within your support center (as in escalating to a back-line team), it might be a good idea to also measure the two metrics listed above. That way, you can get a sense of how effective your support center is in resolving issues without the support of other groups. The goal, of course, is to maximize the number and percentage of issues resolved within the support center, with no escalation to other groups, as this usually reflects a higher level of knowledge and skill set, improved knowledge transfer from other groups, and lower operating costs and should result in higher customer and user satisfaction.
The goal is to maximize the percentage of issues resolved within the support center, with no escalation to other groups.
HDI's FCR definition means that the incident is resolved during the initial (first) contact with the customer. This means it must be resolved without call backs or contact backs or escalations to other support groups. This definition also allows for contacts made through multiple channels (as most now do)—through email, chart, or walk up. In those cases, the incident is resolved during the initial email, the initial chat, or the initial walk-up. By using this explicit definition, you distinguish this metric from the others listed above, and it becomes very clear to all what you are measuring. Most support centers view FCR as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), as it says something about the high performance of your support center. If you achieve a high rating of FCR, compared to similar organizations in your industry, you typically have highly skilled, knowledgeable, and empowered staff.
The other reason it’s a good idea to use the HDI Standard as your source for definitions is that you are then in a position to periodically benchmark the performance of your support center against others. HDI publishes an annual Practices & Salary Report, using performance definitions derived from the Standard. By using HDI's definition, you can then compare your FCR performance against the industry in general and even to support centers in your industry space.
I hope this discussion is helpful. By the way, I have written some articles on support center performance, metrics, and performance reporting. Here is a link to a recently published article on creating an effective reporting framework: The Keys to an IT Best Practice Reporting Framework.
Of course, HDI has published other articles and white papers on how to create a good metrics and reporting framework. I encourage you to browse the SupportWorld library.
Join the conversation with your peers at HDIConnect.
Paul Dooley is the president and principal consultant of Optimal Connections LLC. With more than 30 years of experience in planning and managing technology services, Paul has held numerous positions in both support and management for companies such as Motorola, FileNet, and QAD. He is also experienced in service desk infrastructure development, support center consolidation, deployment of web portals and knowledge management systems, as well as service marketing strategy and activities. Currently Paul delivers a variety of services to IT organizations, including Support Center Analyst and Manager training, ITIL Foundation and Intermediate level training, Best-Practice Assessments, Support Center Audits, and general IT consulting. His degrees include a BA and an MBA. Paul is certified in most ITIL Intermediate levels and is a certified ITIL Expert. He is also on the HDI Faculty and trains for ITpreneurs, Global Knowledge, Phoenix TS, and other training organizations. For more about Paul, please visit www.optimalconnections.com.