Performing the job of a call center agent is never easy. From handling customer requests to resolving their queries, the calls received by the call center agents per day are huge and varied. Therefore, accomplishing success in their profile largely depends on the average time taken by them to end a call or resolve a query. This, in call center metrics, is known as Average Handle Time (AHT).
Average Handle Time is a call center metric that measures the amount of time it takes for a call center executive to complete a certain task or help a caller reach a resolution. An important parameter to measure efficiency, AHT is not solely based on the call duration but also a number of other factors such as:
Talk time: The amount of time spent by an agent while talking to a customer until reaching a resolution.
Hold time: The amount of time for which the caller was put on hold by the agent to gather the requisite
information. This does not include the customer’s time spent waiting in a queue.
After-call time: The time spent on completing the paperwork and other related tasks after the call has ended. It
is also known as the total wrap time or post-call work time.
How to Measure AHT?
Since it is extremely important for the call centers to keep a close track on its agents’ AHT, a standard formula has been devised to calculate this metric:
(Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total After-Call Time) ÷ Number of Calls = AHT
While measuring AHT is important from time-to-time, the call centers must remember that it is not the only criteria to measure productivity. Setting benchmarks and keeping a track of the agents’ performance is important to help identify the steps that can be taken to improve the company’s growth and performance.
It is also important to remember that a lower AHT does not necessarily imply benefit to the company. This is because a lower AHT can also imply a major compromise on quality as over-emphasizing on the need of reducing the call duration may push the agents to compromise on service quality.
Tips to Improve AHT
There are certain situations when an agent’s AHT is particularly high. This can be caused due to a number of factors such as slow computer system, longer call duration, extended hold time and various others. In such a situation, it is important for the call centers to take necessary measures that can help improve the AHT. Some of these are as mentioned below:
1. Improving the Agent Training Process
Providing an adequate training to the call center agents is important to equip them with the right information to deliver the best customer service. Eliminating the agents’ need of fumbling between different software, this process provides the agents with the adequate information to handle the most challenging cases that may arrive.
2. Monitoring Calls & Identifying Weak Areas
Recording and monitoring the calls handled by the agents can help in identifying their weak performance areas. Focusing on these areas and working towards improving the same can play a crucial role in boosting the team’s performance as well as morale.
3. Accurate Call Routing
Adopting this technology in a call center can play a crucial role in improving AHT. This is because routing the calls to the most suitable agent affirms that the customer’s query would be resolved in the best possible manner in the minimum time possible.
4. Arming with Requisite Knowledge Base
It is important to provide the call center agents with all the necessary information that helps them resolve the customer queries quickly and rapidly. Providing them with the requisite details at one place saves a lot of their as well as the customer’s time. Instead of spending time on searching information while keeping the caller on hold, they are able to offer immediate resolution to the customer’s problem.
5. Use an Internal Communication System
An internal communication system with an ability to access instant messaging can be useful in reducing AHT. Using this system provides agents an easy access to help from other agents via chat while the customer is still on the phone. This, in turn, not only saves their time but also assists the agents in delivering an improved performance.
Benefits of Improved AHT
The benefits of improved AHT are not only limited to attaining maximum customer satisfaction. This metric is beneficial in a number of other ways like:
1. Evaluate Employees’ Performance
The measurement of AHT is extremely helpful in analyzing the ways in which the employees are supporting the customers. While it is important to keep this metric as low as possible, it is also crucial to avoid forcing the agents to attain its lowest number. This is because doing so is likely to deteriorate the customer service quality.
2. Identify Staffing Needs
Determining the average time an employee takes to complete a task or handle a customer’s query can be useful in determining the organization’s staffing needs. For instance, a long waiting queue implies that more number of customers are kept waiting, hence, signifying the need of adding more members to the staff.
3. Reduce Costs & Increase Revenue
A reduction in AHT implies increased revenue. This is because reduced AHT helps in improving the productivity level of the call center agents as well as streamlines the overall workflow process. This, in turn, culminates the extra costs and hence, leads to improved overall revenue.
Improve AHT for Better Outcomes
AHT goals vary in different organizations. While spending four minutes per call might be fine for a few, there might be others who would rather prefer to spend between one to two minutes per call. Therefore, there can never be a defined standard for AHT.
The best way to improve AHT is by planning an organization’s long-term goals effectively. This, in turn, would be beneficial in defining the ways in which the available resources can be used to the best of their ability and allow the delivery of improved customer experience. Above all, it’s the best to use AHT and its parameters to attain a long-term profitable growth.