First Contact Resolution (FCR) Levels and Skills Based Routing (SBR)

Author: Prit Ahluwalia: Call Centre a2z

Date: 21st July 2013

Whilst there is always a clear desire to match the call subject matter with the appropriately skilled agent, this is not always possible, resulting in poorer FCR levels.

Let’s consider some examples where this may occur:

Skills Based Routing (SBR)

Where there are a number of product or service lines, the desire will be to allocate skills to agents dependent upon experience. This is often based on priority levels set in the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). However, once all appropriately skilled agents become ‘engaged’ the call will then the route to the next best priority skilled agent. These are often agents who are not subject matter experts and as a consequence, the call is not completed as an FCR, or later, the FCR status no longer remains valid due to any misinformation coming to light.

The same also occurs with newly trained agents and whilst they will be given the lowest skill priority, invariably they will receive calls out of their skill set when more experienced agents are ‘engaged’. This further reduces FCR levels.

The desire is often to match the agent to a call even if there is a mismatch of skill sets rather than have the call abandon. The desire here is to improve service level but ultimately, it affects FCR. This is invariably due to the fact that service level is reported at board level whilst FCR is not. From a customer perspective an abandoned call, whilst not desirable, is the lesser of two evils, rather than having the call answered by an inexperienced agent, receiving incorrect information, necessitating further contacts. Again, the additional costs in subsequent contacts are not measured.

So the outcome here is an improved service level, poor customer experience and increased costs.


A similar outcome can occur with IVR routing instead of SBR routing, where the call is not routed to the appropriate agent. With IVR routing there is also the possibility that calls overflow from the most appropriately skilled team to a lesser skilled team. Often the overflow will be on a time-delay, before the service level threshold, to allow the more skilled agent to become available.

As part of the contact centre performance analysis there should be appropriate scrutiny of calls answered by IVR groups and in particular, the call designated group versus the call answered group. For example what percentage of calls were answered by the designated group as opposed to the actual call answered group?

The performance analysis would also include the call transfer rates between IVR groups.

Out of Hours (OOH)

OOH is a reference to the evening and weekend working window. FCR levels should be carefully scrutinised OOH. The staffing for OOH shifts is often covered in a number of ways;

  • Dedicated OOH staff
  • Rotating weekday staff
  • Mixture of both OOH and weekday staff

During the OOH sfifts, when staffing is more thinly spread, there is a greater requirement for multi-skilling of calls. Where this is the case the scrutiny becomes more relevant. Where dedicated OOH teams exist, the FCR levels become easier to monitor. Where staff rotate into OOH, shift FCR levels become highly relevant in understanding the level of calls answered outside of an agent’s natural skill sets.

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