June 10, 2020 by Kezia Gollapudi

Is 72% First Call Resolution Good, Great or Just OK?

If you are in any way responsible for customer care in your organization, you already know that First Call Resolution (FCR) is an important measure for support center operations. However, there are big differences in how FCR stacks up in terms of priority, and how it is calculated and tracked.

Calix recently spotlighted Arvig Communications’ success in raising its FCR to 72 percent. So, I went back to the Minnnesota-based broadband and telecommunications provider, serving more than 47,000 internet customers across the state, to get their perspective on FCR.

Here’s what John Ketelhut, Manager of Technical Operations and Mike Pangrac, Help Desk Supervisor shared. John who is responsible for overseeing Technical Support and Managed IT Services has been with Arvig for over 18 years, working his way up the customer operations organization, while witnessing Arvig evolve into the leading provider it is today. Mike is responsible for supporting Help Desk staff who provide technical assistance to Arvig’s customers.

First, why is FCR an important KPI for your business?

Arvig had been dedicated to serving local communities since 1950, and maintaining high levels of customer service is our top priority. Continuously improving our FCR is one of the many ways we try to deliver the best possible customer experience.

When a customer contacts Arvig, we want to make sure they feel like they have called the right place. FCR is a natural extension of that because it measures our ability to resolve their problems, or address any concerns the very first time we answer that call, without a need for additional follow-up.

At the same time, it helps us gauge the efficiency of our support operations—how well trained our support reps are; if there is a better way to use our resources; and if there is room to reduce operating costs, all while improving the customer experience.

The recent COVID-19 crisis has only elevated its importance further because even the tiniest of issues can be very frustrating as our customers try to work and school from home. We put the necessary information at the fingertips of our helpdesk reps to troubleshoot issues quickly and remotely. It was the only way to give the peace of mind and confidence in our teams, that our customers so badly needed.

How was the 72 percent FCR calculated? Is that good?

The most important thing to remember about measuring FCR, and most other KPIs, is that it’s not a perfect science. It’s more important that we measure and track changes, than spend time trying to perfect the formula or find the ideal number.

Today, we take the total number of trouble tickets that are opened, and look at how many of them are closed within 30 minutes, by the same tech. It’s different from how we measured a few years ago, but some of the challenges remain the same, like accounting for ticket re-opens.

We’ve learned that as long we have an established baseline after measuring for a while, it is all about tracking improvements from there on. At 72 percent FCR today, we’ve seen a positive shift of almost 23 percent over the last couple of years. That is an absolutely great FCR for us, and gives us confidence that we are moving the needle in the right direction.

Understanding the realities of our industry, there will always be cut cables and fried modems that will need to be addressed. However, we will continue to refine our approach, and make investments in FCR because we never want to be satisfied and stop improving. Continuous improvement is built into our culture.

What are you doing to ensure you are continuously improving FCR?

First, we invested in Calix Support Cloud to give everyone across the helpdesk team visibility into our subscribers’ in-home Wi-Fi experiences. Previously our remote troubleshooting intelligence was limited to outside the home.

By arming our helpdesk with the insights to understand and troubleshoot issues in real-time, we are also taking the burden of articulating the problem away from our customers. It not only saves time, but also reduces frustration for both our customers and staff.

Simultaneously, we have standardized our knowledgebase, tweaked our workflows, created checklists, and increased training. Our reps get 2 to 3 weeks of formal training, but honestly it takes about 6 months before they come across most of the possible problems and learn to address them on the first go. Anytime we discover gaps, we provide additional coaching and monthly breakout sessions for deep dives into certain topics.

What are the other benefits you see as a result of making FCR a top priority?

We have made the investments and adjustments over time, as there are a lot of operational elements that need to align, so we can address customer issues quickly and on first contact. This process is an ever-evolving exercise.

We feel it’s worth it because it results in positive gains in other areas we track, such as, raising our customer satisfaction scores, and reducing truck roll rates. Truck rolls are obviously one of the most inconvenient and costly methods of resolution. We have seen our truck roll rate drop by 8.5 percent.

Our Average Work Time, the amount of time the reps spend on a call, has however gone up since the staff spend more time educating the subscribers with great insights, which in turn reduces repeat calls. Overall it’s been a win-win.

A huge thanks to John and Mike for sharing their take on First Call Resolution.

If you are interested in learning more about FCR or other customer support KPIs, please check out the exec brief on The Data-Driven Support Center: Tracking Critical KPIs to Improve the Subscriber Experience.