First Time Fix (FTF) as is a great service management metric, as it's the one that indicates the most gain in customer satisfaction if improved upon by the Service Desk.
However, there's no industry consensus on either its name - commonly referred to as First Call Resolution or First Contact Resolution or its definition. That's evident by the wide range of FTF rates reported by businesses from anything between 30% and 98% (according to Help Desk Institute research).
So here’s firstly it's worth documenting what our definition of FTF is. As part of that it’s also worth pointing out how it differs from its close cousins, First Line Fix (FLF) and Service Desk Resolution (SDR).
Whilst all 3 metrics require each support ticket to be logged and resolved by the 1st Line Service Desk, here’s how they are different;
- SDR doesn't require the ticket to have been handled only by 1st Line – indeed, the ticket may have done the rounds through multiple resolver groups before finally being resolved by 1st Line. It also doesn't require any prompt resolution of the ticket;
- FLF is a measure of tickets which have only been handled by 1st Line, but, like SDR, not necessarily with any prompt resolution
- FTF does require the ticket handling to be self-contained within 1st Line and needs to have been resolved in one single motion without break or delay.
It's easy to understand why FTF, if improved upon by a 1st Line Service Desk function, is the metric which relates most to customer satisfaction – It's the one that measures when end-users get what they need at the time of asking for it.
To be clear, a ticket that is resolved in 'one single motion without break or delay' will typically have to adhere to all of the following criteria:
- Be logged and resolved without the need to save, close and later re-open the ticket
- Be resolved by the analyst from his/her desk position
- Be resolved without seeking assistance from another colleague
- Be resolved quickly
Although this sounds like a lot to adhere to, most good service management tools can mark a resolved ticket at 'FTF' if logged and resolved without first being saved. This will provide a reasonable basis upon which to report FTF, if coupled with team processes which are geared to support FTF resolution.
In simple terms, in order to improve the FTF rate of a 1st Line Service Desk function, the team needs to do as much as it can, on its own, and promptly.
However, it’s not a metric that should define the success or failure of a Service Desk alone, as some are tempted to do. It’s a measure that’s often dependent on other factors out of the control of the Service Desk and rather serves more of an indicator of overall IT and business efficiency. Here are our Top 9 Tips to improving your First Time Fix.
The first step to improving FTF is to first be able to measure it and then understand why it is that rate. The key thing to look at is the who, what, why and when are contacts or calls being transferred? Ideally this is a combination of quantitative and qualitative information that’s collected on a regular basis and extracted from a well-optimised Service Desk Tool.
Once you have insights around the existing state of play, you can begin to isolate certain issues and trends that you can consider. There may be contributory factors to take into account and investigate further. You can then begin to draw a plan to remediate common issues, knowledge gaps and inefficiencies and also look at preventative measures. This plan should not be a one-off, but a continual way of life for consistently improving and keeping FTF high.
Equipping your team with the right tools is essential for increasing FTF. Do you have Service Desk software with all the features appropriate for your business and have they been optimised for the way your business operates? Do your support analysts have the necessary remote support technology to fix user issues?
This involves the streamlining internal processes and as much as possible eliminating red tape and empowering the Service Desk to solve issues. When they are thwarted by access issues, the First Time Fix rate is completely out of their control.
Being able to quickly and easily access the right information to fix an issue will directly contribute to the FTF rate. Knowledge Management and the processes and organisation around this are key to making improvements.
The capability is of the Service Desk team is a wide ranging topic. It starts with recruiting the right people in the first place, in terms of relevant experience but also the right attitude and soft skills profile, but continues with the level of management and training they receive. All these elements need to be considered and this is one of the most controllable aspects of improving the FTF from the Service Desk.
Management and training of Service Desk staff also play a part in their motivation, which is a factor that cannot be underestimated. A culture of striving to improve the FTF and a motivated workforce to do so is inevitably going to help. Structuring performance reviews around the individuals controllable FTF can help, but considering the process Total Contact Ownership is an option to. This is where the initial analyst who took the contact works with the users right the way through the process until the issue is resolved. This not only helps to increase FTF but also professionalism, customer satisfaction and knowledge.
Once you why users are calling, what impacts FTF and you have the right tools and software in place, you completely change the structure of you IT support to increase FTF.
With sophisticated configuration of ACD telephone software, different issues can be routed to specific groups with the right skill-set or training, based on users’ selecting different options during their first contact, which increases the chance of a FTF.
Some issues that reach the Service Desk are a result of other departments’ inefficiency, errors or ways of working. For example, if users take advantage of the Service Desk and raise issues not related to the Desk. Or there are issues with software installed by infrastructure teams that the Service Desk could not possibly fix. Where these instances arise, it’s important to have the cooperation of the relevant teams in order to bring down the FTF.