The Difference Between First Contact Resolution and Level 1 Resolution

When establishing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for new clients, this question occasionally arises: What’s the difference between First Contact Resolution and Level 1 Resolution?

First Contact Resolution (FCR) means the agent first contacted is able to resolve an issue without escalating it to someone else or otherwise requiring multiple interactions. The terminology applies to contacts received via phone, voice mail, email, web submits, text, or chat. Some confusion arises because many organizations associate FCR with “First Call Resolution,” because the other forms of communication, especially emails and web submits, are less immediate and therefore less likely to be resolved in one interaction purely by the nature of the medium. Level 1 resolution, on the other hand, refers to any resolution delivered by the service desk at Level 1 no matter how many contacts it takes.

IT Service Desk Provider

Regardless of the measurement, the ideal goal is to resolve every issue upon that initial interaction with the service desk agent; however, there are a number of reasons why multiple contacts are unavoidable, thus making Level 1 resolution an equally valid SLA metric. The top 5 most common reasons why the service desk may require multiple contacts to achieve resolution are as follows:

1. Intermittent Issues

Occasionally, functionality with a particular application takes on temperamental qualities. In those instances, the definition of insanity is more like doing the same thing over and over again and getting wildly different results. Whether it’s a compatibility glitch with an Outlook plugin or a Word document converted from pdf that just won’t format paragraphs the same way twice, end-users that contact the service desk sometimes find they cannot replicate the error when reaching a live agent.  Even with the agent logging in to the user’s desktop via remote access tools such as TeamViewer, the issue may remain elusive or vanish completely by the time the service desk responds to an incident reported via web form or email. When this happens the end-user may be instructed to call back and/or take a screenshot should the error recur and the ticket is reopened. Either way, the resolution is still owned and operated by the Level 1 team, though that first contact has already been expended.

2. Additional Access or Escalation Requirements

Even if the IVR is set up to enable different support options, occasionally a caller might select a group that doesn’t have the necessary access and permissions to resolve the issue. A good example is Active Directory account administration. Frequently, the service desk must adhere to strict guidelines even for routine AD tasks such as onboarding, terminations, and account unlocks to ensure appropriate controls are in place to track and monitor agent activities and mitigate risks. As a result, those duties are segregated within different Level 1 groups and associated with the agent’s profile in the ACD queue. So the Level 1 agent who received the first contact may need to escalate the ticket to an agent authorized to perform the resolution tasks in Active Directory, effectively making it a resolved L1 incident over multiple contacts.

3. End-User Unavailable/Scheduled Activities

Some troubleshooting takes an extensive length of time to resolve and, understandably, end users aren’t always able to wait around. Even with remote supervision tools recording the agent’s every move, some users aren’t comfortable with them troubleshooting at the desktop via lengthy TeamViewer sessions while they’re away. Consequently, those complex, time-consuming tasks such as virus scans, device reimaging, or remote software installations need to be scheduled for a later date. A minimum of two contacts come into play in this scenario with the inbound support request initiated by the end-user and the follow-up outbound call coming from the agent at the scheduled time and date.

Also, depending on the client’s preferences, some incidents may be reported by someone other than the affected user. Whether it be on behalf of busy executives or other departmental staff with limited availability, the Level 1 service desk agent may be forced to call back at another time especially if they need the user’s authorization to remotely access their desktop.

4. Missing Information/Research Required

Another reason for a callback may be the lack of readily available information required for the agent to perform the troubleshooting. Even from an end-user authentication standpoint, inbound phone contacts may require the user to provide an employee ID, email, or some multi-factor form of verification to ensure the service is being provided to a current employee. New employees, in particular, may not have all of this information committed to memory and often need to call back to maintain the integrity of the client’s data security especially if the call is related to an access request. If support is needed to troubleshoot hardware assets not tracked in the ITSM platform, sometimes the users need to call back with model or asset tag info so the Level 1 agents can identify which knowledgebase article to refer to for resolution procedures with that device. Similarly, for software assets not being tracked or associated with the user calling for support, the version number of the OS or application may be necessary to determine. From the agent’s side, sometimes unique incidents arise that don’t have a knowledgebase article or any known resolution procedure yet created. Depending on the issue’s complexity or availability of Subject Matter Experts, the Level 1 agent may request more time for research and call the end-user back once new troubleshooting procedures have been proven to resolve the issue.

5. Known Issues/Outage Notifications

In order to discourage unnecessary call spikes at the service desk, known issues such as network outages are posted in scrolling alerts on the end-user portal, uploaded to the IVR, and broadcast in companywide emails. Nonetheless, there will always be a portion of the end-user population that prefers to bypass or may overlook those notifications in order to get those updates directly from a live agent. Depending on the workflow established during the implementation process, the agent handling the contact for a known issue may be required to follow up with the end-user with a status update once the network service has resumed.

Regardless of which SLA metric receives the greater emphasis, maximizing the speed to resolution will always be a core goal of the service desk. That means Level 1 agents and supervisory staff must be diligently on the lookout for ways to expand its repertoire of resolvable incidents, recommend new procedures for the knowledge base, and, through root cause analysis, identify permanent solutions. With such a focus on continual service improvements, happy clients are soon to follow.

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