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FCR vs. AHT: What Is the Essential KPI for Improving Customer Experience?

First Call Resolution and Average Handle Time. These two metrics usually go in line with all important Call Center KPIs. Almost in every material, we notice that they are listed among the top 5 most valuable measurements of Customer Support department effectiveness and productivity.

In our latest LinkedIn Survey, 82% of 1165 voters said that FCR is the most valuable KPI for improving customer satisfaction.

Only 5% of them think AHT should be a priority for measuring the success of a Contact Center. 

We already wrote a separate post about FCR and how to calculate it:

So, what is AHT?

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a composite indicator of how much time customers spend on average to solve their issue from the moment of the first call or contact to the moment of ending the connection with the case resolved. It also counts the time on hold, repeat calls, and time in queue.

CX professionals mention that AHT is commonly used to track the cost efficiency of a Call Center and agents' performance. Many Call Centers use it for internal cost control purposes.

Although, it can be helpful to set up standards based on the top performer's results.

FCR and AHT have some correlation. Supervisors can check the best FCR, take the metrics of those agents as referents, and use their AHT as a primary KPI.

AHT doesn't have a severe impact on NPS. You will hardly meet a customer concerned about AHT or other internal business measures. The only thing that concerns the customers is the resolution of their requests. 

One of the comments we got from the survey:

"Customers only want to hear that you understand their query, and you will be able to assist them in resolving it."

However, some components of AHT metrics should be controlled and constantly improved as they still have value in getting a positive customer experience. 

First is the average time in queue (ATiQ). Even enormously high FCR can be leveled if a customer spends too much time waiting for the agent's response. 

Long waiting times may cause a high level of customer dissatisfaction and can be a signal that your company lacks investment in adequate support resources.

Here is the comment of Navdip Singh Bains, Technology Advisor:

"To be successful at improving NPS/CSAT scores, it is imperative to not only be able to view the average time in the queue, but to create live alerts; which get sent to the relevant internal company employees, who can escalate issues quickly to help retain customers and reduce churn."

The second important part of AHT is average hold time. Indeed, if customers get what they want after the first call, they will probably forgive the agent for being so slow while fixing the issue. But is it always true?

It depends on the complexity of the issue, the regularity of the customer's inquiries, and how typical is the reason for the call. For example, if a customer issue takes 15 seconds to be solved, but the customer waits for 10 minutes on hold, this can ruin any positive perception of the first-time resolution effect.

Maybe it is more effective to shift the most common and standardized issues to modern technological instruments. There are plenty of vendors of Virtual assistants, voice bots, and other automation tools. Why should a person ever want to talk to an agent if there is a more accessible and effortless method?

From here, we discover one more important but not as noticeable measurement called Customer Effort Score.

Shortly, the Customer Effort Score (CES) comes from satisfaction surveys and demonstrates how much effort a customer puts into getting the issue resolved by the company. During the survey, customers should choose a scale point from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 between extremely difficult and super easy to interact with the company. 

FCR, AHT, and other KPIs should lead your customer to CES's 5, 6, and 7 points. CES will complete the picture of how satisfied the customer is. And if FCR is excellent, but CES is low, maybe the problem is AHT? Or it can be more profound. 

Perfect KPIs can mean nothing if the way for the customer to get satisfaction is too messy or complicated.

Intuitively easy, multichannel self-service journeys can transform the whole landscape of measuring the effectiveness of customer support services.

Adam Preston from the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK gives a perfect conclusion to the discussion of what is the most valuable KPI in a Call Center:

"FTR is the bedrock of a successful contact center. Strong call routing and automation combined with an empowered FTR-focused colleague will make a significant difference."

The more diversified the customer journey becomes, the more complicated to pick one of the dozens of valuable KPIs that can impact CSAT. But mentioned metrics are essential in agents' professional development. Ultimately, the customer wants to talk to an intelligent but empathetic human being who can solve the problem.

Don't forget to subscribe to Ender Turing Blog to know it all about the call center world!

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