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Battle of the Call Center Metrics: AHT vs. FCR

Your call center’s metrics help you to assess the effectiveness of your employees, your script, and your calling methods. There are a number of metrics that you can track with your call center software, including: time spent on hold, call abandon rates, transfer rates, conversion rates, and cost per call.

In working to assess how well your call center is performing, two of the most important rates to track are your first call resolution (FCR) and average handle time (AHT). However, these rates are often in conflict with each other – a high FCR (good) can cause a high AHT (bad), and vice versa. On which one should you place the most importance?

Well, that depends. Think about your business’s priorities. When a customer contacts your call center, is it more important to solve their problem quickly, or to answer their question in a single call?


The Importance of AHT

Having a low AHT can decrease your call center’s operating expenses, reduce the number of agents you need on staff and reduce customer wait times in the queue. The lower your AHT, the less time your representatives spend on the phone with each customer.

A low AHT implies that your call center processes are as streamlined as possible, and that representatives are communicating with your customers effectively and efficiently.

  • If your AHT is high, you may benefit from implementing or optimizing scripts and templates for your agents to use in order to handle frequently-asked-questions and other familiar scenarios.
  • There are several problems involved in using AHT as a metric for measuring your call center’s performance. If customers are not given complete information in these short interactions, they may be forced to call back a number of times until their problem is resolved. This decreases customer satisfaction and ends up wasting more time than can be accounted for on a per-call basis.

The Importance of FCR

Your call center’s FCR is a measurement of how well your agents provide your customers with a solution the first time they contact you. The more your customers have to call back in order to find a solution to their problem, the lower the quality of your customer service.

A low FCR incurs higher operating costs as agents repeatedly interact with the same customers. If your business is focused on customers and excellent customer service, then your call center’s attention should be focused on improving your FCR.

  • Unfortunately, your FCR can be a difficult metric to objectively track. You may have to rely on customer reports via phone, web, IVR survey, end-of-call survey, or voice menu – all of which require customers to self-report their satisfaction.
  • You can also use your CRM system to determine whether individual callers have called multiple times or only once.
  • QA call monitoring can listen to the call and evaluate if the problem was resolved.

There are several steps your call center can take in order to improve its FCR. The key is to increase your agents’ ability to provide knowledgeable answers to your callers. Coaching and training are thus important elements in increasing your FCR, as well as improved management oversight, awareness, and accountability.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, you may benefit from working to improve both of these metrics in tandem. You want your FCR to be as high as possible and your AHT as low as possible. By utilizing a combination of good scripting, effective employee training, and managerial oversight, you can work towards quickly solving your customers’ problems the first time they call.

Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as business sales.