Average Handle Time
Time is of utmost essence when it comes to call centres. Valuing your callers time as well as your organization’s is very important and needs to be a call centre’s top priority. A caller who is able to get his/her queries resolved quickly is a happy caller. A metric that will help you analyze and optimize your time is Average Handle Time or AHT. It is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
What is AHT and what does it do?
Average Handle Time represents the time spent by an agent in handling a customer call. Various components come under the hat of Average Handle Time. This metric does not just represent the time spent by an agent on the phone. So what are some other factors that come into play while calculating Average Handle Time?
Factors to be considered while calculating AHT
Total Talk Time – As the name suggests this metric is the measure of the amount of time spent by the agent on call talking to the customer.
Total Hold Time – This is a measure of the amount of time the caller has been put on hold.
After Work or After -Call Work – The time spent by the agent after contact with the caller. This would include work that immediately follows an inbound transaction. This would also include administration work such as ticketing, filling forms, registering call and call related information, etc.
Having discussed the factors necessary for AHT calculation, now let’s move on to it’s formula .
Formula for AHT
Average Handle Time = (TotalTalkTime+TotalHoldTime+AfterCallWorkTime)
Total No. of calls handled
Eg – Suppose a department handled 100 calls in a day. Total talk time by all the agents was 800 minutes, Hold time was 400 minutes and the After Call work time was 300 minutes. Your average handle time would be
(800+400+300) = 1500/100 = 15 MINUTES.
What is the importance of AHT?
This KPI or metric is one of the most important one’s in a call centre and it’s relatively easy to guess why. A call centre thrives on the number of calls received and the quality of service provided to the callers. These measures can be calculated and improved using the results of the Average Handle Time. How?
Imagine an agent has to spend a lot of time handling a call , the more time it takes to resolve a call, the more frustrated a caller becomes. Ideally, each caller wants to have their issue sorted as soon as possible. They don’t like waiting to be connected to an agent and they certainly don’t like being transferred from one department to the other for their issue to be resolved.
Taking too much time to handle one caller means that other callers are having to be put on hold. This could in turn lead to the caller abandoning the call altogether.
These are some situations that a call centre definitely needs to avoid. The Average Handle Time metric can help you here.
As previously discussed, there are three components that help calculate the AHT. Each of these components can be used to improve upon the average handle time and as a result the overall caller experience.
Total Talk Time – The call centre agents can be regularly trained to provide quality service to the callers. When the agents know how to efficiently deal with callers, they can significantly reduce the total talk time. Providing the agents with essential tools which would help them increase their efficiency is also a way forward.
Total Hold Time – Resolving calls quickly would also mean lesser hold time. If the hold time is for transfer to other departments, methods to identify the intended department can be explored so that the caller is directly connected to the department instead of the agent .
After Call Work – One method that can be explored to reduce the after call work is the delegation of the work to other employees so that the agent is available to handle more calls. Another method is providing the agent with relevant tools which would help him/her wrap up the work as soon as possible
All these methods in conjugation with each other can significantly help the caller and agent have a seamless experience.
Ways to improve Average Handle Time
Even though it’s desirable to wrap up the customer call as soon as possible, one must not compromise on the quality of service provided to the caller in lieu of reducing the talktime. If agents try to quickly resolve the call without focusing on the quality, it might lead to a decrease in metrics such as first call resolution (FCR). So it is important that when you try to reduce the AHT, you do it properly. Here are some tips you can follow to improve your AHT without compromising on quality.
CREATE AN EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE BASE – A knowledge base can be internal and external. An internal knowledge base is where your agents can access answers to common questions that callers may have about your product/service. Creating an extensive knowledge base would help your agents provide better and improved caller experience.
With an external knowledge base agents can direct callers to a portion on your website that’s dedicated to answering common questions that your customers may have about your product or services. Agents may give a caller a brief explanation about their query and lead them to the knowledge base. This helps the agents save time.
UPGRADE CALL ROUTING – Making sure that calls reach the intended department will help save a lot of time. When customers have to be transferred from one department to another, it becomes cumbersome for them. Routing the call to the most capable and suitable agent is one of the most efficient ways to reduce customer frustration.
USE UPDATED TECHNOLOGY – For delivering top-notch customer service and improving the call center’s performance, it is crucial to make sure that the customer service solutions and other infrastructures are operating efficiently.
Using technologies such as IVR and chatbot would help improve customer experience. These can help route the calls to appropriate agents and engage in intelligent conversation.
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