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After Call work is the work performed by an agent after a customer interaction. It typically includes tasks such as keying activity codes, updating customer databases, filling out forms, initiating outbound contact and similar tasks that needs to be done in order to resolve the customer query or post status updates on the company CRM.
It is an important part of Average Handle Time(AHT), AHT is the time taken by an agent to completely resolve a customer query. AHT is a key metric when it comes to evaluating call center performance it impacts a number of critical KPIs like CSAT, operational efficiency, agent effectiveness etc. It’s a strong indicator of everything from the impact of agent training programs to organization processes and resources.
Average handle time is calculated by the formula:
= (Total Talk time + Total Hold time + After-Call work time) / Total number of calls
Therefore, properly setting up processes for after-call work will help in optimizing agent performance, Average Handle time and overall call center performance.
In this article we will be covering the following topics:
1. What is after-call work?
2. What is the importance of after-call work?
3. What is the formula for calculating after-call work?
4. How long does after-call work usually take?
5. What are the benefits of reduced after-call work time?
6. Tips to reduce after-call work time.
What is After-call work?
After-call work or ACW refers to the work/tasks a call center agent/customer service representative performs after their call with a customer. Most often, if not always After-Call work involves one of the following tasks:
- Updating the customer query/complaint status in a CRM / support desk
- Setting up follow-up tasks
- Communicating with other departments/agents wherever necessary
- Post-call communication with the customer regarding their call
- Updating call notes and other customer details in the CRM
The formula for calculating after-call work is :
The amount of time spent on after-call work (wrap time) divided by the total amount of time representatives spent handling customer calls over the same period of time, as a percentage.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example:
Suppose an agent spends 60s on after-call work such as updating CRMs, sending mails, etc, and the total time taken by agents in handling the call or in other words, the total handle time is 300s then the after-call work as a percentage can be calculated: ( 60/ 300 ) * 100 = 20%
Why is After Call Work important?
After-call work is a powerful metric. It is one of the contributing factors in assessing the efficiency of a contact center.
Here are a few things After Call Work can help you with:
- Helps track agent performance: Keeping track of the after-call work for all your agents will help you understand how they are performing. It can also help identify gaps if in their work if any.
- Reduces the number of missed calls: While agents are performing after-call work, they tend to make themselves unavailable for incoming calls. Post-completion of the after-call work is when they are available again for handling customer calls. The longer it takes to complete after-call work, the more calls will be missed.
- It is an efficiency benchmark: According to the International Finance Corporation, call wrap-up time or after-call work is one of the efficiency benchmarks in a call center.
“The call wrap-up time is the time that an agent takes after the call has finished to complete the case. This time may include updating the system, completing forms, and any other activities associated with the call. The global metric is 6 minutes. However, this metric is very industry specific.”
- Improves AHT: As discussed above After Call work helps improve Average Handle Time as well, thereby improving the call center efficiency as a whole
- Improves response time and reduces down time: It helps improve response time and down time, If agents have the resources and tools to quickly finish up after-call work, they will be available to pick up new incoming calls, impacting both
- Improves customer satisfaction: As response time increases, so does customer satisfaction as customers would not have to wait on call for a longer time to get hold of an agent.
- Helps Identify areas for improvement: Accessing after-call work helps identify the nature of problems that are coming in, and hence managers can identify areas for improvement – For eg- if the majority of after call work is around updating CRMs then automation can be brought in for particular query types to improve efficiency
How Long Does After-Call Work Usually Take?
There is no standard amount of time that should be allotted for after-call work because the domain, processes etc. of every call center are different. As a general rule of thumb, after-call work should be as short as possible (ideally between 60-120 seconds) while still allowing for accurate completion of after-call tasks.
Factors that affect After-Call work time
- Operating Sector: The sector the call center serves will play a major role in deciding the after-call work and subsequently the AHT.
Healthcare groups would have a different standard than say a retail group. In order to make an efficient analysis of the after-call work performance a benchmark needs to be set according to the industry standards.
- The type of query: The nature of query as well has a major effect on the after-call work duration, if the query is “run of the mill” the time needed to resolve will be less as there is usually a playbook for such resolutions, the opposite is also equally true for unique queries the resolution time needed will inevitably be high.
- Call Centre Processes: Different call centers may have different processes. For example – some call centers do not encourage query resolution on the spot and collectively devote a few hours to after-call work related activities towards the end of the day, while others prioritize immediate query resolution.
- Agent proficiency and behavior: Agent skills affect the After call work time as well, A well-trained, experienced agent will take lesser time than an untrained one. Another factor that may affect ACW is the behavior of the agent. If the agent wishes to prolong a call in lieu of avoiding an incoming call, or if they are in a foul mood, it could lead to fluctuations in ACW.
- Availability of Knowledge Base: A well-documented knowledge base could be super helpful for the agents. Being able to refer to knowledge bases could help them speed up the process of after-call work. Suppose an agent needs to log the reason for customer contact, if a process is laid down that could be refereed from a knowledge base, the agent could quickly fill in the details accordingly.
- Access to technology: Availability of latest technology systems is also really important, For eg. – access to Call pop, CRMs, Voip, chatbots etc. can help reduce after-call work
What are the benefits of tracking after-call work time?
One of the key ways to improve your call center productivity is to track metrics. Metrics help make objective decisions and help avoid subjective hypotheses. A productive call center always tracks after-call work. The biggest benefit of tracking after-call work time is that it will give us significant insights, acting upon these insights will allow you to:
- Reduce customer wait time: If your after-call work is reduced, it results in reduced missed and abandoned calls as it directly reduces the customer wait times. Agents cant answer phone calls while performing tasks, resulting in high wait time. This is why reducing after-call work is one of the key ways to reduce missed and abandoned calls or simply put customer wait times.
- Improve agent performance: Less time on after-call work is equal to productive agents and happier customers.
- Operation cost benefits: Reducing ACW leads to reduced operational costs by avoiding redundant and repetitive work. This saves time for everyone on the team.
What happens if you don’t track after-call work?
What are you at risk of losing, if, on the other hand, you do not track after-call work time? Or, what are the cons of not tracking after-call work time?
- Hampered customer experience: Customer experience will also take a hit since their calls will be picked up much later or sometimes not picked up at all. They could get frustrated and take their business elsewhere.
- Follow-ups will be hampered.: After-call work tasks done by an agent are not just limited to his/her access. They are sometimes passed on to other departments for a follow-up with the customer. If the after-call work is not tracked, the quality of the after-call work tasks might take a tumble and thus lead to issues during the follow-up calls.
- AHT will be affected: The average handle time will also increase if after-call work time is not tracked. A measure of efficiency in a contact center is these metrics like AHT and ACW, so not tracking the ACW time will affect the contact center’s reputation as well.
How Can You Reduce After-Call Work?
In order to reduce or improve after-call work, call centers should ensure the following:
- Training and coaching agents:
In order to reduce time spent on after-call work, the most important factor to keep in mind is to ensure that agents / front desks are trained. When training, focus on the following
- Software training: They are well versed with the call center/VOIP Software and other business tools. This helps avoid too much spent on navigating between platforms, and finding information. Ensure they know the ins and outs of your business tools before they are on the floor handling customers on the phones.
- Listening skills: This is one of the most important skills to train your agents on but is often overlooked. Being a good listener helps ensure agents are;
- Taking notes effectively
- Understanding the end user’s needs
- Looking up the right information in the knowledge base
- Asking the right questions and right people for help
- Context and expectation: It is important to let the call center agents/ front desk know that their performance is measured on their productivity and how many calls they handle, not how much time they spend after call work. Ensure your agents and you are on the same page.
- Detailed note-taking and disposition:
It is extremely important to ensure agents/ front desk are taking notes meticulously. A simple manual error in note-taking can cause confusion between team members and lead to increased ACW (after-call work). An extension of detailed notes is dispositions.
- Use abbreviations
Abbreviations can be used by agents to take quick call notes. A lot of times agents have the freedom to add any disposition to a call as a follow-up. This can lead to various problems like:
- Misinterpretation of information
- Impossible to analyze information
To avoid such a situation you can use well-defined dispositions like below:
PT = Patient
INFO = Information
DOB = Date of Birth
INS = Insurance
CNCL = Cancel
DLVY = Delivery
AUTH = Authorize
IMPT = Important
MAX = Maximum
The bulk of the time spent completing after-call work is on updating practice management softwares, databases, call center software, CRM, and helpdesk with the same customer information from the interaction. This is a significant reason for after-call work hitting the roof in terms of number.
- Eliminate unnecessary tasks:
The best method to shorten the after-wall work time is to reduce the number of tasks that the agent has to perform. Makes sense, right? When the agents are putting their effort and time into tasks that are not too important they are using up precious time.
By spending some time observing your agents you will be able to identify some tasks that are quite frankly, not that important or do not deserve more than a specified amount of time to be completed.
- Integration with your business software:
Therefore, eliminate the entering of information into multiple systems (EHR, PMS, Call Center Software) by utilizing call center software that integrates all of your business tools. When your agent or your front desk updates information in one platform (e.g. your calling software), all integrated platforms will be updated as well. The most important aspect is that it ensures real-time metrics, call conversion ratios, and more.
- Identify areas of automation:
Agents could be coming across tasks that are repetitive and hence causing an increase in after-call work time. One such example is the one just discussed above. Entering information into multiple systems is one area that can be automated.
To identify more areas of automation you can select a random sample of agents and observe what tasks they spend their time completing during the after-call work. If you are able to observe repetitive tasks you can highlight these and look for automated tools to help reduce the workload.
Another technologically advanced option is automatic summarization. This technology listens in on the customer calls and identifies areas of importance and adds it as a summary. This technology is called Natural Language Understanding. The agent can then check the summary and edit it if required.
7. Document processes for common issues
Creating documentation for common fixes is one of the best ways to cut down on post-call work.
Instead of agents writing out the steps a customer needs to take to solve their issue, they simply send a link to your existing documentation. One way to do this is by using an extensive knowledge base.
8. Get Agent Feedback
Agents have the best repository of knowledge when it comes to on-ground call handlings. It’s a good idea to regularly keep taking updates from agents and understand how performance can be made better.
You can ask them what tools they think will help them reduce after-call work, or which areas they need help with. This can be a very powerful method to identify problem areas.
- Set up an ACW Timer
A timer is a good way to keep agent after-call work time in check. A timer also sets up a deadline for the agent to complete the after-call work in time. This way they will be compelled to finish the after-call work as soon as possible.
In case of special cases, that require more time for after-call work tasks, the agent can extend the timer to complete the tasks.
An important thing to note here is that a provision to extend the timer should be given to the agents because if your pre-set wrap time is too low, agents could resort to forcing customers to stay on the call longer than necessary or rushing through ACW tasks and leaving customer records incomplete or inaccurate.
- Create Reusable templates:
Reusable templates are another great way to reduce the after-call work time. If auto-summarization is a difficult tool for you to invest in you can consider reusable templates instead. How would it work?
Suppose an agent has to document some information regarding a customer call. If he/she starts writing the information from scratch it will take up more time. In contrast, if they have a template ready, where they are just needed to fill in the call-specific information, a lot of time will be saved.
How can Emitrr Help with After Call Work?
In continuation to integrating your calling software with your business tools, it is important to focus on automation. Not only will automating tasks reduce after-call work, but it will also reduce the chances of error and make sure that all business tools talk to each other and have updated information. Here are some examples of tasks that can be automated through Emitrr:
- Missed calls: A platform like Emitrr can completely automate your missed calls. Traditional software simply records a voicemail or creates a task in your CRM about a call being missed, but that’s not sufficient. With Emitrr, call centers and the front desk don’t need to follow up with missed calls. Emitrr’s proprietary software automatically answers missed calls with artificial intelligence and integrates with your CRM/PMS/EHR.
- When a new contact/patient/customer calls, create a new contact in your CRM
- Log metrics in real-time, add call log, recording, disposition, and others
After-Call work is a metric that is included in the overall Average Handle Time. A reduction in the after-call work time is the desired outcome. Although it is desired, a reduction in the after-call work should not affect the quality of service provided. Each call center may set up processes to help the agents wrap up after-call work quicker. Automation, as discussed above can also significantly help reduce after-call work. Check out how Emitrr can be used in your call centers to reduce the ACW today!