How to measure First Contact Resolution in Zendesk using AirOps

How to calculate and track First Contact Resolution (and why it’s so important).

Published on Apr 30, 2024 by AirOps Team

What is First Contact Resolution?

First Contact Resolution refers to the percentage of an organization’s customer tickets that are resolved during the first interaction, whether that interaction occurs via phone, chat, email, social media, or another medium.

This metric is also sometimes referred to as First Call Resolution or First Touch Resolution (in the AirOps Service Metrics Toolkit, we note it as ‘1 touch resolution’). However, these terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably – First Contact and First Touch Resolution refer to all potential touchpoints, but First Call Resolution should only be used for voice calls. 

An issue is considered resolved when the customer responds “yes” to these two questions:

  1. Is this the first time the customer has reached out with this specific question or request?
  2. Is the issue fixed?

How you defined “resolved” is critical here – in Zendesk, the customer support representative (CSR) needs to flag the ticket as solved. If the customer reaches out again during a pre-defined time period, the ticket will be reopened.

Regardless of how you decide to define First Contact Resolution, you need to make sure that the business logic behind those metrics definitions is well-documented. This can be surprisingly difficult in many data tools. 

But, a tool like AirOps helps data teams document data sets, sync trusted data, and expose existing documentation in modeling and transformation tools (like dbt, for example). That way, data teams have “final mile visibility” into how data assets are being used in the organization, and business users have the context they need to better understand the data they’re working with.

How to measure First Contact Resolution 

To calculate your organization’s First Contact Resolution, divide the number of customer tickets resolved in a single interaction by the total number of tickets received. Then, multiply the number by 100 to measure First Contact Resolution as a percentage

First Contact Resolution = (Total number of tickets resolved after one touch ÷ Total number of tickets received) x 100

For example, if 183 contacts out of 500 were resolved during the first customer service interaction, your FCR rate would be 36.6%.

A few notes on calculating your First Contact Resolution rate:

  • Make sure the interactions being counted occurred during the same timeframe. Use a sufficiently long time period since recent tickets may not have had a chance to be reopened.
  • Predicting the future is impossible, so don’t include open tickets in your counts. 
  • The higher the percentage, the more effective your support team is at resolving issues the first time they occur (without the customer needing to repeat their request or try another support channel). This is a win-win for everyone – customers get their issues resolved quickly and businesses can spend their customer service resources more efficiently. 
  • First Contact Resolution is a popular customer service metric, measuring it isn’t necessarily simple or straightforward. For more details on the nuances of this metric, jump to the Frequently asked questions about First Contact Resolution section.

Track First Contact Resolution alongside other important customer service metrics

On its own, First Contact Resolution doesn’t provide a complete picture of your customer service team’s performance. That’s why it should always be tracked alongside other service metrics.

And while tools like Zendesk are powerful, our experience has shown that customer service reps (CSRs) and managers find it way more convenient and powerful to access and analyze data in operating documents that they already know and love, like Google Sheets ❤️. 

Getting high-quality data into an operating document like a GSheet isn’t necessarily easy, though. Especially if it requires you to spend hours manually downloading CSVs from different sources and copying the data into a rickety, VLOOKUP-filled spreadsheet 👎.

You can use the basic calculation above, but there’s a much more efficient way to calculate your team’s First Contact Resolution rate (and other important customer service metrics): the AirOps Service Metrics Toolkit.

A screenshot of the AirOps customer service metrics toolkit, which tracks metrics like First Contact Resolution, and more.

This toolkit makes measuring your customer service function a breeze. In addition to First Contact Resolution Rate, use it to easily track metrics such as:

… and more! Get in touch with our team to learn more and get started! 

While First Contact Resolution is an important metric for customer service teams to measure, you need a more complete picture if you want to measure your team’s overall performance and effectiveness. 

Frequently asked questions about First Contact Resolution

Should my organization track First Contact Resolution?

There's no single answer to whether or not your organization should measure First Contact Resolution. While it’s a foundational customer service performance metric for many businesses, whether or not you should track it ultimately depends on your specific goals and needs. 

If you want to track, measure, and improve customer service efficiency as well as customer experience, it’s a helpful metric for measuring the performance of customer support teams and individual CSRs. It can also show you where there’s room for improvement with your internal workflows and processes. If those benefits will help your organization reach its customer service goals, you should track First Contact Resolution.

Like many other KPIs, however, it’s always a good idea to assess First Contact Resolution alongside other related customer service metrics in order to provide context. If you’re trying to improve your organization’s CSAT scores, for example, First Contact Resolution can be a helpful metric. Customers don’t want to get stuck on a never-ending merry-go-round with your service team, and low First Contact Resolution rates can certainly contribute to low CSAT scores.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that an organization might choose to measure two different First Contact Resolution metrics based on different use cases, which are explained below.

What are the top considerations to keep in mind when measuring First Contact Resolution?

Sometimes, there’s simply no way an issue can be resolved with a single touch. Bug fixes, hardware problems, requests to physically move/add/change something, and other similar issues all take some extra time to complete. Calculating First Contact Resolution both with tickets tied to incidents and without tickets tied to incidents can provide a helpful point of comparison.

This also leads to another interesting question: Should things like bug fixes and hardware problems count against a customer support team’s First Contact Resolution rate?

That’s a question that can only be answered by individual organizations. If you do decide it makes sense to exclude those more complicated scenarios from your First Contact Resolution rate, you can calculate Net First Contact Resolution instead of Gross First Contact Resolution. 

While Gross First Contact Resolution assesses all incoming customer tickets, Net First Contact Resolution allows you to adjust for tickets that can’t be resolved remotely by your customer support team in a single interaction. This type of adjustment is sometimes called a carve-out.

Here’s the formula for Net First Contact Resolution:

Net First Contact Resolution = Total number of tickets resolved after one touch ÷ (All incoming tickets – tickets that can’t be solved in one interaction)

Net First Contact Resolution is a metric that makes sense for many organizations; it’s not uncommon for companies to measure both or to skip measuring Gross Net First Contact Resolution entirely. 

If you’re going to track different First Contact Resolution metrics for different use cases, be sure to confirm that the business logic behind each metric is well-documented. A tool like AirOps streamlines the way business users can search, prepare, document, and sync trusted data sets. It’s a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding metrics definitions. 

What is a “good” First Contact Resolution?

There’s no single benchmark for First Contact Resolution. What’s considered “good” varies – teams, processes, and technology all vary from one organization to another, and each component plays a big role. 

That being said, Ring Central offers the following guideline: “Generally, FCR [First Call Resolution] rates close to 90% are considered high, while 40% is considered the “low” end.” These benchmarks are based on widely cited research from Metric Net which states that 74% is the average First Contact Resolution rate for service desks across the world. 

Why is it important to have a high First Contact Resolution rate?

If delivering excellent customer service is one of your organization’s North Star goals, it makes sense to measure, monitor, and improve your First Contact Resolution numbers. That’s because…

  • It can take a customer from dissatisfied ➡️ satisfied. If an unhappy customer contacts your customer service team with an issue, a quick resolution is one great way to turn the tables.
  • It helps with customer retention. Lackluster customer service is one of the top reasons customers jump ship. According to research from PwC, “32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience. In Latin America, 49% say they’d walk away from a brand after one bad experience.” So, if you can solve a customer’s problem right away, they’re far more likely to remain loyal to your brand.
  • It increases productivity. When CSRs can solve a customer’s problem during the first touch, they won’t have as many repeat problems to contend with. The result? Reduced wait times for customers and more time for your team to focus on solving complex problems.

How can I improve my organization’s First Contact Resolution rate?

If your customer service function has a low First Contact Resolution rate, there are many ways to improve it:

1. Find the root cause behind low First Contact Resolution

Delayed first contact resolution is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. To figure out what the deal is, explore these questions:

  • Are support requests being routed to different channels on a regular basis (e.g., from live chat to phone)? 
  • If yes, why are requests being transferred? Where are they most commonly transferred to?
  • What types of issues, requests, and questions cause customers to reach out to support?
  • Why wasn’t the customer satisfied with the resolution offered during the first interaction?

To track down answers to these questions, you can talk to your CSRs, analyze customer feedback, and review data from your customer support tool (i.e., Zendesk). If you’re using Zendesk, your customer service team can also tie tickets to incidents, which makes it easier to get to the bottom of any issues.

Once you’ve determined the root causes, try some of the ideas below.

2. Develop a comprehensive knowledge base for customers (and CSRs)

A comprehensive knowledge base with articles, videos, tutorials, FAQs, and other resources will make it easier for customers to find the information they need and self-serve their own questions.

Creating a knowledge base can be a great way to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. By providing valuable content in an easily accessible format, you'll encourage customers to stay engaged with your brand. And when they have questions or problems, they can find the answers quickly and easily.

A knowledge base is a useful tool for support agents, too. Sometimes, solving a customer’s problem is as easy as sharing a relevant resource.

3. Make sure you understand your customers

If you want to empower your customer service team to adequately address customer requests from the beginning, you need deep knowledge of your customers. Why do they request support? What common problems do they encounter when using your products and/or services? Carefully analyze customer feedback to figure out the answers.

When you understand your customers, anticipating their needs is much easier. And when you can successfully anticipate their needs, delivering a resolution during the first contact is far more achievable. 

4. Offer Omnichannel Support

Omnichannel support means providing customer service through all the different channels they use - online, in-store, by phone, and via social media.

Omnichannel support is important because it allows customers to reach a customer representative no matter where they are. This makes it easier for customers to get help with a problem or query and eliminates the need to switch between different channels to get assistance.

Since customers use multiple channels throughout their day, omnichannel support ensures that everyone who needs assistance can find someone who can help them.

5. Don’t neglect CSR training

Training your agents on how to resolve customer issues is one of the most effective steps you can take to improve First Contact Resolution.

By providing your agents with proper training, you'll help them understand what customers are looking for when they contact your company and how to best address their needs. This knowledge will result in faster resolutions and happier customers.

There are a few key things that must be included in agent training, including instructions on how to properly handle common customer complaints and how to escalate certain situations. By following these guidelines, you'll ensure that all customer interactions go as smoothly as possible.

6. Follow up with customers using a post-call survey

The right surveys can help you measure First Contact Resolution and customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Ask questions like:

  • Were you satisfied with the support you received?
  • Was your problem resolved effectively?
  • Would you recommend our company based on your most recent customer support experience?

You might also ask, “Is this your first time reaching out about this issue?” This can help teams isolate repeated contacts for the same issue, especially for contacts where the ability to reply isn’t available.

7. Give your customer service team the power to resolve issues

Sometimes, internal processes and procedures can get in the way of solving customer issues – if your CSRs need approval from a manager to adjust a billing cycle, for example, it will lead to lower First Contact Resolution rates.

To avoid becoming the victim of self-imposed organizational bureaucracy, consider giving your team more authority to resolve support tickets on their own. Allowing CSRs to issue returns and refunds, apply discounts, and remove shipping charges are great places to start depending on your organization.

Technology can also play a role here. The right systems and tools ensure that your team has everything they need to be efficient and effective. These systems can include automated chatbots or email notifications that alert employees when new inquiries or complaints are received, a CRM with comprehensive customer information and context, advanced call routing based on the issue, and easy access to scripts.

What’s the difference between First Contact Resolution and Average Resolution Time?

While First Contact Resolution refers to the percentage of tickets that are resolved within the first contact attempt, Average Resolution Time tracks the total time it takes for a ticket to get resolved from the moment it's opened, regardless of how many contacts are needed to resolve the issue. Both metrics are commonly used for measuring the performance of individual customer service agents and customer service teams as a whole. 

Similar to Net First Contact Resolution and Gross First Contact Resolution, there are also two different Average Response Time metrics that you can measure based on different use cases: With on hold and pending time counted if you're trying to measure Average Resolution Time in order to see how it correlates with customer satisfaction, and without on hold and pending time counted when tracking Average Resolution Time for individual customer service reps.

Understanding nuances like these, including which metrics to use and when to use them, is vital to running an effective data-driven business. AirOps helps businesses get more value from their data with powerful data preparation, documentation, sharing, and syncing capabilities. Learn more and get started here.

Do I need to measure both First Contact Resolution and Average Resolution Time?

Every organization’s metrics framework will look a bit different depending on the goals and objectives of the business, but in general, these are two great customer service metrics to track. 

Resolving an issue on the first try is great, and customers will certainly appreciate it. Overall resolution times are also important, especially since there will always be tickets that require a few back-and-forths to resolve. 

Recommended resources related to First Contact Resolution

15 common customer service metrics and how to use them

How to measure Average Response Time in Zendesk using AirOps 

How to calculate Average Resolution Time in Zendesk using AirOps 

How to design a winning metrics framework