I recently took part in a discussion among CX experts regarding FCR, short in our parlance for First Contact Resolution. That it used to be called First Call Resolution speaks to one point I want to make. We struggled with this in the last job I had as the Director of CX: How to even define FCR.

Some on the team wanted to drive it from our own internal metrics, based on actual experiences of our Customers rather than from surveying them. I generally recommend and prefer this sort of approach: While it’s always great to solicit feedback from our Customers, it’s even better to capture their actual experiences. If a Customer says it took too long, that’s valuable feedback, but if you’re like me, your first question is, “Okay, how long is ‘too long?’ How long did it actually take?” Knowing that can help us better determine what our goals should be.

That makes sense, but context matters.  Consider the following scenario: A Customer contacts your support desk through online chat and the agent (or bot!) immediately recognizes that the complexity of the issue requires live over-the-phone support and directs the Customer to call a specific number. The Customer calls right away, gets right through (perhaps because this is a dedicated line explicitly for this sort of circumstance), the telephony system recognizes the Customer’s phone number and pre-populates the tools for the phone agent with all the information needed. Armed with this data the agent is able to quickly and effectively walk the Customer through a recovery tree and resolve the issue. The Customer is not only satisfied, but probably pretty impressed by how easily your organization moved him or her between channels and solved the problem.

Did you miss FCR? By most ways of measuring (based on internal metrics), that counts as two contacts…especially if, as often happens, your online chat team is measured separately (perhaps even reports to a different manager or director) from your phone team. But your Customer may see that as one contact. Sure, I had to log out of the chat and call. But it all happened really within a matter of minutes, so it really was just one time I contacted your company’s helpdesk.

We even thought we’d be clever and ask on the survey, “Was your issue resolved with one interaction, or multiple interactions?” But honestly, that didn’t clear things up. The same Customer above may not consider the experience to have consisted of two “interactions,” and thus not really be a negative ding on CX. But from the perspective of efficiency, we used the resources of two teams. Therein lies the rub; and the heart of the question: “Why are you asking?”

This is not a unique challenge for CX. As an analyst I’ve seen countless instances of metrics built for one purpose that don’t adhere properly to the needs of different purposes. In a situation like this, we have to ask ourselves, Why does the metric, FCR, matter?

If we’re looking at resource use, then we need to consider how and how many calls are passed between teams. If we’re trying to best understand how to efficiently man our chat desks and call centers, we really do need to know how many calls come in for each, how many are passed between them, etc. This doesn’t even really have a (direct) impact on CX.

But if we’re looking for Customer metrics, we have to ask ourselves different questions. It may be that Customers don’t even care about channel shifts. As long as they’re smooth and make sense to them, what matters is just getting an issue resolved (what we called TPR, Total Problem Resolution).

In an instance where it takes more than one team to solve an issue, Customers likely don’t care about our own internal machinations…they don’t care that it takes a lot of coordination and hard work to pass information between teams and team members. They just want to get their issue solved with the least amount of effort. By measuring the amount of work we put into the effort (i.e., did it entail using both the chat team and the phone team), we’re not necessarily capturing our Customers’ experience, let alone whether or not it was positive or negative based on what’s important to them.

A process engineer who worked for me once said, y’know, it seems like we’re measuring our effort sometimes, instead of the Customers’ effort. Exactly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on why and how we’re using those metrics…and those have to align.