The new world of hybrid work hasn’t made supporting customers and employees any easier. If anything, new remote work challenges and distributed workforces have revealed service desk inefficiencies that can frustrate end users, waste IT resources, and impact business outcomes.
But dialing back work flexibility isn’t the answer. To help streamline service desk operations and improve the overall help desk experience, organizations need to address the root cause of the problem by developing an effective first call resolution strategy.
First call resolution (FCR) empowers Level 1 (L1), the first stop for any service desk ticket, to quickly resolve technology issues at first contact, which can be essential for distributed workforces that depend on devices, apps, and strong internet connections to stay productive.
But why is FCR important? And how can organizations measure and prioritize it, let alone build a strategy that will affect service desks day-to-day? Here’s a helpful guide to take you through each step of the process.
Why is First Call Resolution So Important?
Dropped connection. Constant video buffering. Blue screen of death.
No matter the issue impacting an end user, it’s always best to solve it right away.
Because the longer people are forced to wait for a computer problem to be fixed, the worse their digital experience becomes — especially if it takes hours or days. On average, employees report experiencing 3.5 tech issues per week and losing 44 minutes of productivity as a result, according to recent digital employee experience research from Lakeside Software. And the more tickets and declining digital experiences, the more time and resources IT needs to devote to resolving lengthy, escalating problems.
Across organizations, these tech issues also have a big impact. Poor digital experiences can end up costing lost productivity, higher service ticket volumes, missed deadlines, unmet goals, employee attrition, and less revenue for businesses. Lakeside’s report shows C-level respondents believe their revenue could increase by 12.1% and costs could reduce by 18.1% if digital experiences were significantly improved. Applied to the Fortune Global 500, that would generate about $4 trillion in additional revenue and nearly $6 trillion in cost savings.
First call resolution (FCR), also referred to as first contact resolution, is the percentage of incidents resolved during the initial contact between the customer and the support center.
That’s why first call resolution — also known as first contact resolution, since service desk requests can be made through email, chat, and ticket submissions — is becoming more and more critical as IT teams face new challenges across hybrid workplace, including:
- Problematic Wi-Fi configurations/signal strength
- Unknown devices (such as printers, wireless gadgets)
- Poor video quality
- Insufficient remote work setups
- Delayed hardware refreshes
The sooner these issues are resolved, the less impact they’ll have on users, IT, and the overall business. And the best way to accelerate remediation is to enable L1 technicians to solve reported issues at first contact.
How to Measure First Call Resolution
Now that it’s clear why first call resolution is an important metric for any business, there’s another big question to answer: How can organizations measure and track it?
To define, evaluate, and improve FCR, organizations need the best data available. Using digital experience management solutions, such as Lakeside Software’s Digital Experience Cloud platform, for example, helps service desks to create a first call resolution metric based on a few different factors:
- L2/L3 escalation rate
- Mean time to resolution (MTTR)
- Service ticket volume
- Productivity impact
By monitoring relevant data, service desks can establish objective and accurate baselines to track FCR as well as establish goals and initiatives to improve it.
How to Improve First Call Resolution
Better first-contact remediation doesn’t just happen, of course. It all depends on IT’s ability to quickly identify and fix issues soon after they’re reported.
To kick off a successful FCR strategy, organizations must train their L1 service desk teams to prioritize first call resolution as well as provide the visibility and tools needed to ensure first contact is the only response necessary to tackle many reported incidents.
That’s where a solution such as Lakeside Assist can help. The all-in-one, purpose-built L1 service desk tool, part of the Digital Experience Cloud platform powered by SysTrack, enables teams to provide first-touch remediation with simple, intuitive workflows that include auto-detection, insightful dashboards, one-click fixes, and proactive support capabilities.
But it takes more than just a powerful solution at the fingertips of L1 service desk teams to improve FCR. Here are five steps IT can take to develop an effective first call resolution approach.
Step 1: Develop First Call Response KPIs for the Whole Team
Before letting L1 teams loose on service ticket queues, everyone needs to be on the same page about FCR.
At a high level, that means establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to help IT leadership measure and monitor progress, as well as establish goals for improving first call resolution. Strategists need to ask themselves:
- What metrics will be important for our strategy?
- What is our FCR rate now?
- What do we want it to be?
- What will success look like?
But at the IT level, it's also important to establish which key metrics and details the L1 service desk will need to focus on when providing a first-call response.
Lakeside Assist shows several key performance metrics, including CPU/memory/network usage, disk activity, and latency.
To supplement end users’ first-hand accounts, for instance, Lakeside Assist displays CPU/memory/network usage, disk activity, latency, and other key performance metrics L1 teams can easily access to root out the cause of reported issues.
Step 2: Go Beyond Active Listening in Help Desk Training
Reporting an issue to IT hasn’t always been a simple task.
In fact, service desk operations have historically been long and involved processes, relying heavily on end users’ claims of what was happening. Unfortunately, those who are experiencing digital friction aren’t always tech-savvy, leading to multiple calls or messages with end users as IT personnel try to troubleshoot and root out the cause of issues.
And all of that can easily add up to long MTTR, more widespread problems, escalation to L2 or L3 remediation, and more resources.
There’s a better way to gather much-needed information about a problem, however — one that provides accurate performance and device details without interrupting end users. Because although direct contact and active listening have traditionally been at the heart of the help desk experience, there’s a different kind of “active listening” that’s become even more vital: Engaging with data to understand the end-user experience.
Say, for example, an end user reports that their internet is slow while working remotely. To an IT technician, the cause could be any number of things (Home Wi-Fi? Corporate VPN? Application fault?) and more information is needed:
- When did this happen?
- Has it happened before?
- What application were you using?
- Are you connected to the VPN?
- What is your Wi-Fi signal strength?
- Are there other people connected to your home network?
Using digital experience management (DEM), which continuously gathers metrics from work devices both inside and outside the office, IT has the expanded visibility to explore these possible impacts to end users from their perspective. Service desk teams can then accelerate root-cause analysis (RCA) and troubleshooting remotely, sometimes without ever needing to contact end users directly.
Lakeside Assist for ITSM shows auto-detected issues within the ServiceNow platform.
But while Lakeside’s Digital Experience Cloud has several dashboards that show all kinds of metrics for different IT support purposes, it also provides the most critical data for L1 first-call remediation in one handy tool. Lakeside Assist — and also Lakeside Assist for ITSM, a ServiceNow app — provides key performance metrics, alerts, surveys, and quick fixes that can help identify and solve many issues, such as application faults, faster and easier.
Step 3: Shift Left with a Proactive IT Mindset
Fixing reported problems as quickly as possible is always a great first call resolution strategy. But fixing issues before they impact other end users? Now that’s ideal.
Taking a proactive IT approach through prescriptive action can level up L1 FCR strategies in a few key ways:
- Addresses issues before they become widespread
- Prevents problems from escalating to L2 or L3 status
- Saves time and resources that could be spent fixing the same issues repeatedly
But then there’s the question of knowing which issues are likely to affect other end users. That can be difficult to do without a rich repository of data and intelligent analysis capabilities — especially since about half of employees report tech issues less than 60% of the time, according to Lakeside research.
Lakeside Assist shows auto-detected issues for specific users, but also indicates which problems might be impacting other end users.
By using intelligent sensors to continuously check for problems, Lakeside can help IT find those answers. While Lakeside Assist automatically identifies issues impacting a specific device — such as low disk space, excessive folder size, and outdated product versions — it also indicates how many other end users are affected and possible actions L1 technicians can proactively take.
Step 4: Measure Help Desk Customer Satisfaction
Quantitative data can go a long way toward supercharging L1 service desk remediation, but it’s only part of a well-rounded first call resolution strategy.
Qualitative data, including sentiment and feedback from end users, is just as vital for shaping the process. And one obvious way to gather that intel is to ask end users directly.
Various surveys can be sent directly from Lakeside Assist, allowing end users to share information and feedback.
For example, Lakeside’s Digital Experience Cloud helps IT connect with end users through SysTrack Engagements. These desktop notifications and surveys can be used to alert end users to issues, gather more details, provide self-help actions, or invite feedback.
Although SysTrack Engagements can be set up by any help desk level, Lakeside Assist makes it easy for L1 teams in particular to send surveys without having to leave the remediation tool.
Step 5: Prioritize Predictive Support and Preventive Action
Although a first call resolution strategy is a significant step toward identifying and fixing reported issues quickly and proactively, service desks have a lot more work to do to improve end-user experience at every level.
Because even with the best FCR approach, IT departments run the risk of creating a “watermelon effect” where first call resolution KPIs indicate a nice, green outer layer, but the inside is red with frustrated end users and declining digital experiences. After all, there may be many users who simply don’t report, or even recognize, issues that are impacting their devices.
A predictive and preventive IT approach, supported with solutions like Lakeside’s, can help empower every level of the service desk — from L0 all the way to L3 — through artificial intelligence and automation. Some possible examples include:
- Automating self-healing actions when certain faults are triggered
- Establishing and tracking experience level agreements (XLAs) with vendors
- Determining adverse impacts caused by changes/updates
- Monitoring remote work performance
- Right-sizing for upcoming deployments and migrations
- Segmenting end users into personas or user groups for targeted hardware or software refreshes
Start Your Journey to a Better First Call Resolution Strategy
With service desk efficiency on the line, organizations have an important choice to make: Stick with a problematic and costly reactive approach to remediation or invest in an FCR strategy that enables L1 teams to completely transform the help desk experience?
It’s not really a tough call.
Resolving reported issues quickly at first touch helps end users — especially those working remotely — stay productive, keeps digital experiences from deteriorating, and avoids wasting IT resources on lengthy, escalating remediations. Businesses gain better outcomes, too, in the long run with an effective FCR strategy in place.
Level Up Your Service Desk Experience
Jumpstart your FCR strategy with auto-detection, one-click fixes, automation, and more using Lakeside’s Digital Experience Cloud.
Lindsey Poisson is a technical journalist at Lakeside Software focused on the latest news, trends, and innovations in the IT industry and digital experience management market. Previously an award-winning newspaper reporter, she now delves into topics surrounding remote work, digital employee experience, proactive IT support, and the future of work. She also currently lives, works, and adventures around Ann Arbor, Michigan.