First Call Resolution (FCR) rate

An assumption:

First call is being taken by a level or tier one support group. It could come in over the phone as an actual call, via a self-service submitted “ticket”, or have been auto generated by an outside system such as a application or network performance monitoring solution. Escalation rates are related, but not exactly “a different side of the same coin”.

 

Being bold:

75% to 85% are good FCR rates.

 

Is a low number bad?

Not necessarily – for a number of reasons. Some organizations might use tier one handling the first call more as a “catch and dispatch” organization. I am not sure how HDI would consider this, but such a level one might handle the most basic things such as infamous password resets (if this isn’t adequately supported via self service techniques), but dispatch anything trickier. In such cases the FCR could be relatively low and that is fine. A variation of this that I’ve seen is to push aggressive self-service of common issues complemented by use of knowledge management for the end users. Tier one (or even a tier zero) is still more catch and dispatch with a level two or three group picking up the more challenging “calls” that made it through the self-service screening process. This model can filter out many less challenging “calls” that would have been closed on first contact, consequently, lowering the FCR observed.

 

If 80 or 90 percent is good, then isn’t close to 100% even better?

What is considered good can vary greatly, but higher isn’t always better either. If “calls” are being logged and can be dealt with at a high percentage closure rate, one conclusion could be that there are systematic problems that should be addressed to reduce the number of those calls in the first place. Likewise, categorizing the types of “calls”, “tickets”, or incidents making it into a service desk might reveal that end-user education, self-service, or again some type of problem resolution could reveal ways to lower the volume that can be resolved via a first call.

 

An optimization exercise:

What is a desired FCR can and will vary from organization to organization. I have talked to multiple companies that set their targets based on labor rates. If the IT organization is supporting high cost or high value worker/employees (doctors and lawyers are frequently mentioned, but this isn’t exclusive), then minimizing aggressive self-service techniques and paying more for a higher capability level/tier one support can easily make sense resulting in a higher FCR. More commonly, I’ve seen organizations balance the cost and capabilities of levels one, two, and three to determine a reasonable FCR and associated escalation rates.

 

An idea to consider:

At a recent regional itSMF meeting in Minneapolis, a service desk manager told me one method they were pursuing to improve FCR. This company used knowledge management for their level one staff handling first calls. They provided rewards for knowledge articles (submitted by anyone at any level) based on the articles use and effectiveness (a quick 1-5 rating on how useful the article was). The rewards weren’t large (~$100) for a well used and effective article, yet the improvements in FCR and call handling times were visible and clearly outweighed the cost. Correspondingly, this company would see their FCR oscillate in a 70-80+% range as improvements were made and problems addressed. I considered this to be an example of continual service improvement in action.

 

Peeling the Onion:

Have you ever called a toll free support number and it was clear that the agent was “on the clock” and/or was measured on their close rates? The answer is likely yes and the result wasn’t that beneficial for you as the caller. Searching on “tech support” on http://dilbert.com/  can help provide some potential examples for our industry. Seriously, dogged attention on FCR (or other related metrics) alone can produce less than optimal results. FCR balanced with survey results or re-opened incidents metrics can provide a better outcome for everyone involved.

 

Tell me what you think. And if you’re so bold, please share what are your FCR goals and results.

 

Chuck Darst

 

Related reading - If you have access to Gartner materials, I recommend the following:

  • Desktop Support Metrics Driven by Operational Efficiency and User Satisfaction, ID Number: G00215517, Publication Date: 10 August 2011
  • Introducing the Balanced Scorecard for the IT Service Desk, ID Number: G00205641, Publication Date: 26 October 2010
  • How an Organization Should Approach IT Operations Metrics to Move from Level 1 to 2 in ITScore for I&O, G00231989, Published: 7 March 2012 – this paper has some specific discussion on FCR related to peeling the onion mentioned above.

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About the Author
HP IT Service Management Product Marketing team manager. I am also responsible for our end-to-end Change, Configuration, and Release Managem...
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