FCR vs. AHT: What Should You Measure?

graphic illustration of a callcenter agent

This is a guest post from  Kate Webster

Call center metrics can be a valuable tool for monitoring the effectiveness of your calling team. Both first call resolution (FCR) and average handle time (AHT) can provide your business with information about you call agents performance and the effectiveness of your calling methods.

While both metrics are important to know, you’ll want to consider which will be most important, depending on your type of business and the function of your call center; consider which will give you the most insight.

First Call Resolution

FCR metrics monitor the effectiveness of your first call or first contact with a customer. It is considered to be one of the most valuable metrics available, though it is sometimes difficult to define and measure.

Usually, FCR refers to the percentage of customers who achieved call resolution, or found answers to their concerns completely, in a single call. FCR is determined in a number of ways, most of which involve some sort of resolution survey.

  • External methods for measuring FCR include: post-call phone, web, or IVR survey, an end-of-call script, or a voice menu. All of these options rely on the customer to determine whether or not the call was effective.
  • Internal methods for measuring FCR include: QA call monitoring where QA evaluators determine if the call was resolved, call-back monitoring so see if the customer calls back within 2-5 business days, or CRM where software is used to determine if the call was resolved.
  • An 80% FCR means that on average customers require 1.2 contacts to resolve a question or issue.

Businesses that have a large customer focus usually find it straight forward to improve FCR percentages. FCR can be improved with committed management, awareness, accountability, coaching and training.

Average Handle Time

AHT also attempts to measure the overall effectiveness of your calling system. AHT refers to the total average time that an agent spends with a contact. For example, an AHT for a mobile communication company might be 2 minutes.

Usually, a lower AHT implies that call center agents are being efficient and quickly handling customer concerns. However, just because a call is shorter does not necessarily mean it is more effective.

  • Measuring AHT can be beneficial because the less time spent per call, the lower amount of operating expenses are required for the amount of calling agents.
  • Lower AHT means that the call center contact methods are as streamlined as possible, which can also result in more positive customer experience (less wait time, more effective answers).
  • AHT metrics usually benefit from using templates or scripts that focus on frequently asked questions or requests.
  • Sometimes, even though the average handle time has been reduced in a call, the customer is not given complete information, and is forced to call back another time to resolve their issue.

When determining staffing size or proper time-usage, AHT might be a preferred metric to follow. However, if you are looking to monitor the thoroughness and quality of your customer service team, first call resolution metrics may be more valuable. Both metrics are important for monitoring the effectiveness of your call center, and depending on where your businesses focus lies, one might be a better fit than the other.

Kate Webster writes for lead generation resource, ResourceNation.com. She focuses on a variety of topics including call center metrics. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook and Twitter, too!