Why Average Handle Time Is Important To Call Center Success (2024)

Offering the best service within the shortest time possible increases customer satisfaction and operational efficiency in call centers. No wonder companies are striving to reduce their Average handle time (AHT). A good AHT indicates a call center’s ability to resolve client concerns quickly: less time means more customer calls per day.

On the other hand, being obsessed with AHT can make agents rush to resolve customer inquiries. Therefore, a business should focus on striking a balance between speedy responses without compromising the conversation quality to attain customer satisfaction.

Here’s why average handle time (AHT) is important to call center success.

What Is the Average Handle Time?

The average handle time (AHT) measures the duration customers take to interact with your call center. AHT measures everything from when an agent picks up a call to the conclusion and the follow-up. The AHT captures the following metrics:

  • Call initiation
  • Talk time
  • Hold time
  • After-call work or post-phone call work, such as keying in the customer information

To calculate your AHT, sum up your total talk time, total hold time, and total after-call tasks and divide them by the total number of calls.

The Importance Of AHT To Call Center Success

Source: nexrep.com

AHT is important to call a center success for the following reasons:

Better Customer Experience

An optimized AHT means agents have a better framework of the do’s and don’ts for effective customer call handling. This will reduce time-consuming activities and resolve customers’ issues faster, hence greater satisfaction.

Measures An Agent’s Efficiency

AHT measures an agent’s efficiency in handling customer concerns. An agent that can resolve customer concerns faster will keep customers waiting for shorter periods, hence more daily calls.

Identifies The Bottlenecks In The Workflow

As you work towards improving your AHT, you will identify the areas requiring improvement. A contact center that tracks AHT will collect the data necessary to reduce hold and call transfer times and optimize the talk times, increasing the total calls a customer can handle in a day.

This, in the long run, will boost your contact center efficiency. Improved efficiency means a reduction in operational costs.

Measure Of Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Key Performance Indicator
Source: platformuptake.eu

AHT is a vital call center KPI along with other metrics like first call resolution, average answer speed, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and customer satisfaction.

Helps To Find Out Areas For Additional Tools Or Training

The average handle time depends on your agent’s ability to deal with customer queries and concerns quickly. Depending on how long an agent takes to communicate with a customer, you will identify the gaps in their efficiency, necessitating training or additional tools.

When To Measure The AHT

Measuring AHT enables a call center to identify inefficiencies and develop strategies to eliminate them. Evaluating your AHT is advisable under the following circumstances:

  • When reengineering processes or updating systems
  • When automating your workflow
  • As part of regular review to identify your agent’s time-consuming tasks

How A Call Center Can Improve Their AHT

Reducing average handle time by rushing customers on the call, whether their concerns are resolved or not, would amount to dissatisfied customers. Therefore, an organization should improve its AHT by reducing the time while increasing overall customer satisfaction as follows:

Consider Agent Training

Source: cxtoday.com

The AHT boils down to an agent’s ability to handle issues. Your call center will thrive if your agents offer supportive conversation without distractions. Therefore, train your agents on how to effectively use Customer Relationship Management (CRM Systems), other business tools, and computer hardware. Your agents should also know the company’s guidelines, standards, and policies.

Providing agent scripts will also help in effective time management by guiding your agents depending on the issue they are resolving. This way, you will standardize the process for a better customer experience and an efficient call center agent team.

Optimize Call Routing

Routing calls to the right representative at the first instance is one of the easiest ways to optimize your average handle time. Call routing eliminates the need for call transfers and hold times. Also, through call routing, your customers will connect with the most knowledgeable agent for their inquiries, reducing the AHT significantly.

Cultivate Strong Internal Communication Channels

Multiple email threads between call center agents and call transfers within the representatives will increase the AHT. By enabling internal agent chat, answers will come faster, improving the AHT.

Have A Comprehensive Knowledge Base

A knowledge base contains relevant information that employees in your organization can access. This includes FAQs, visual guides, decision trees, and easy-to-understand videos. With adequate access to the information on demand, your agents will give solutions within the shortest duration.

Record Agent Calls

Recording calls will help a call center to identify the inefficiencies for improvement. Review the recordings during your training sessions and identify gaps for improvement. You will know your customers’ reactions to long wait times, engagements, and overall experience through an agent call recording.

Agent call recordings will also help you identify the top performers for reward and recognition.

Monitor And Evaluate Agent Performances

Call center agent performance
Source: infoset.app

Call center monitoring and evaluation are necessary for ongoing training and improvement of metrics like hold time, call transfers, and escalated calls. Therefore, keep a close eye on the following metrics for improvement.

  • Average talk time
  • Missed calls
  • Declined calls
  • Accepted transfers
  • Average wait time
  • Abandoned in queue
  • Longest wait time
  • Exceeded queue wait time
  • Average hold time
  • Average time to answer

After-Call Work Efficiency

After ending a call, an agent should document relevant details to pass to the relevant agent where applicable. This will minimize effort duplication and save time in the long run. Documenting your calls gives your agents the details they need to push a customer’s request forward instead of making fresh inquiries which is time-consuming.

Call center
Source: ikono.co

The Bottom Line

As a call center, your top priority should be customer satisfaction. Therefore, as you work towards optimizing your AHT, ensure your agents still offer quality communication by training them, monitoring, and evaluating their performance. With optimal performance, you will attain agent efficiency and reduce your operational costs in the long run.