Whenever I broach the topic of First Call Resolution (FCR) there are two debates that kick off almost right away: first, what is first call (contact in the modern world) resolution? What do we identify as a call? What do we identify as a follow-up call? What timeframes do we use, and what gaps are needed to make sure we are dealing with different calls?

The second issue is why call (or contact) and not interaction; why do we discriminate against any non-service call (or contact) and why don’t we focus on those as well? The function performed in the interactions that are not service-related should matter equally in a world driven by experience continuums.

Both debates have very strong opinions on all sides of them (there are as many definitions of what constitutes a first call as there are organizations tracking the metric).  There are issues of latency, time-spent, time-lapsed, and gap-in-between to address all the different interactions, and there are interactions that are not necessarily customer service-focused that need a quick resolution – so how can we provide an answer to all of them? Is there a better metric?

I think it is fine time we changed the concept and name of FCR to RTFT-R (right-time, first-time resolution). Yes, it is not a TLA (three-letter acronym), but it truly reflects what it is happening in the world today. And it fits very nicely with my ongoing series on how to use knowledge in the near future (which I am currently developing under the sponsorship of Coveo).

As you probably recall from reading the many writings I have done in the past few months about this topic, there is a shift underway in the world of knowledge management. We are moving to a world where knowledge only has value when it is being used, not when it is being prepped to store. As a result of this, the previous stores of knowledge are losing (even more) their power and being replaced by communities, forums, and even subject-matter-experts that are available at the drop of a – well, message to enter the customer interaction, provide their knowledge, and then continue with their day. I first wrote about this in 2002 under the term “secret customer service” – with the caveat that latency was the real killer (if you remember those days, finding the right person and getting an answer from them was not an easy task, it would take too long).

This model of secret customer service is what we are seeing today emerge with the idea of knowledge-in-use. The information exists and can be found in real-time; the use of faster processing, better data management tools and the added complexity of online communities help find the right person, the right information, in the right time – and use it to close an interaction (that is, any call or contact – regardless of business function).  This new model — regardless of where the answer is and can be found and used at the right time — is what is replacing the FCR model.

FCR was an outdated metric, one focused on how well the organization did to serve the customer – but still from the company’s perspective, not from the customers’.  You can easily see this by the debates I mentioned above – what defines a call? What defines closure or resolution? Who gets to define both those parameters? None other than the organization, who is looking to measure something that is supposed to be related to satisfaction and loyalty (measurements of effectiveness) – where in reality continues to measure how well the company performed against the perceived need of the customer – a perennial measurement of efficiency.

As we move from company-centric to a better mode of customer-centricity, and we see the need to evolve to use better metrics, to focus more on the customer needs (solve an issue, right here, right now) and how we can measure the delivery against those metrics – RTFT-R is a metric that makes sense. It answers all the questions surrounding its use: how effective we were, how timely we were, and how efficient we were – all into one metric.

It is time to leave behind the outdated, efficiency-driven, company-centric metrics we use today in favor of effectiveness-focused metrics that will be relied upon to answer questions related to satisfaction, loyalty and effectiveness.

Measuring whether the right time and the right information were used to solve a problem is the first step towards that.

Don’t you think?