One fast way to keep customers loyal to your business is by quickly resolving their problems or tending to inquiries after they dial your contact center. Customer Experience (CX) research by Forrester reveals customers are 2.4x more likely to stay when companies resolve their problems quickly.
Successful businesses ensure premium customer satisfaction and experience to keep customers and boost their revenue. Metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) can give you helpful insights to improve customer service in your call center.
Read on to learn about AHT meaning, how to calculate it, and what it means for your business.
What is the Average Handle Time?
AHT, also known as Average Handle Time, is a customer service metric that measures the necessary time for a call agent to resolve customer issues or inquiries in a contact center.
From beginning to end, a customer's entire conversation experience is measured by Average Handle Time, which includes hold time, call transfers and post-call follow-up time.
AHT is one of the metrics call centers must monitor to improve agent performance and customer satisfaction. The others are:
Average Speed of Answer (ASA): This is the average time it takes for a contact center representative to answer inbound customer calls from when they are in a queue.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): It measures customers' satisfaction with the service, interaction or purchase from a business. It is determined by asking the customer a direct question related to their experience with a brand.
Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS is a market research metric that measures customer satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a product or company through a single survey.
First Call Resolution (FCR): This metric shows how often a call center agent resolves customers' problems or inquiries on their first call without following up.
Consistent measurement of your call agents' AHT means you get detailed insight into their performance. With this, you can either determine areas for improvement or set benchmarks for future performances.
Consider that the length of a phone call (Average Call Duration) is not the same as an AHT (Average Holding Time), since the latter does not take into account queuing time or ring time.
How to calculate average handle time?
To determine the AHT, you need to consider:
The number of calls: Total number of calls or conversations for a day, week or month. Depending on the duration you want to check.
Talk time: The actual time spent talking to the customer.
Hold time: Time spent putting a customer on hold during a call.
Follow-up time: Time spent following up on an unresolved issue or customer inquiry.
You can use the formula below to calculate AHT
Average Handle Time (AHT) = (Talking time + Holding time + Follow-up time)/ Total number of calls.
For instance, a contact center representative handles 40 calls daily, with a total talking time of 300 minutes, a holding time of 50 minutes, and a follow-up time of 30 minutes. The average handle time for this representative for the day will be 9 minutes, 5 seconds; assuming we summed up 300 minutes + 50 minutes + 30 minutes = 380 minutes and divide by 40.
While there is no specific industry standard for AHT as several factors can affect it, the most popular or acceptable AHT for some industries is 6 minutes 3 seconds, according to Call Centre Magazine. They arrived at this value with the use of their Erlang Calculator.
While you may try to keep your AHT as minimal as possible, focus more on resolving a customer's problem on their first contact.
What Average Handle Time means for your business
Average Handle Times can be both beneficial or detrimental to your business, depending on what you hope to achieve. While some people argue that reducing the AHT might affect the quality of service rendered to customers, others believe that, with the right tools, you can attend to your customers fast and still render excellent service.
Below are some ways your business can benefit from optimizing the Average Handle Time.
1. Boost business performance
The AHT of your business can help your overall performance. It helps you identify and cut down on time-consuming activities. When you minimize hold times and optimize the time spent talking to customers, you can attend to more customers and close more deals.
It ultimately increases sales and revenue of your business while reducing operational costs.
2. Improve customer experience
You can achieve a lower AHT without necessarily altering the service you render to your clients. Customers are more likely to repurchase or refer your company to others if you address their issues as quickly as possible when they contact your call center.
3. Monitor and improve call agents' performances
Determining the AHT for each call representative will help you identify those lagging behind in some way.. With this, you can provide resources to help boost the performance and skills of inefficient employees.
Once again, the focus should not just be on the speed at which they attend to customers but also on their ability to resolve issues and inquiries efficiently.
Steps to lower Average Handling Time
You can use the steps below to reduce the AHT of your business.
1. Use data to identify the cause of a high AHT
Several factors can affect the AHT of a business and result in longer handling times. Some of these include
Inexperienced call representatives
Lack of proper communication systems
Insufficient number of employees
Lack of adequate tools, e.t.c.
Longer holding, talking, and follow-up times may lead to high AHTs. Proper monitoring and documentation can help identify the cause of high AHTs and stop them before they become a problem.
2. Improve agent training
Your customer care or call representatives are the frontliners of your business. They are the first people new customers interact with when they contact your company.
They must be knowledgeable about your business, services and products. This way, they don't have to put clients on hold to confirm certain information before responding back.
You need to train agents as much as possible to sharpen their soft skills so they can carry out their duties efficiently and swiftly. You can leverage CRM tools to introduce your agents to self-coaching and inspire them to listen to previous dialogues or read top-performing conversations.
It will help agents identify their weak spots and motivate them to improve. Plus it's also a fun way of learning for most people.
3. Automate processes with speech analytics
Technology has made it easy for us to carry out tasks efficiently with the many helpful tools and AI-powered solutions that can help us improve our call center performance.
With AI-powered solutions like Ender Turing, you can monitor your overall business performance and improve the quality of service you render to your customers to optimize their experience.
AI speech analytics is one of the biggest trends for call centers today. Ender Turing's speech recognition feature allows you to translate calls into searchable texts in up to 24 languages, making it easier to identify and resolve problems. This solution augments human agents to yield optimal results while decreasing the AHT.
Automating processes with these tools will not only help you reduce your AHT, but it can also speed up quality control and enhance customer satisfaction.
Image source: Ender Turing.
4. Record call and provide agents with continuous feedback
You can enable automation to review all calls in your contact center. Use these recorded calls to learn more about how your call agents interact with your clients. Listening to interactions between call agents and customers makes it easy for you to pinpoint areas that need to be improved.
These calls can also be useful for ongoing training of employees. With this, you can give your call reps constructive feedback on improving their performance, reducing AHT and helping them reach their KPIs faster and deliver better results.
5. Introduce efficient call routing and internal communication systems
Another great way to reduce the AHT for your business is to establish an effective internal communications system for your team.
With an effective call routing system, customers can automatically be transferred to the next available agent who can resolve their problem. It helps reduce holding time by eliminating the need to manually transfer from one agent to another.
Also, an efficient internal communication system makes it seamless for team members to interact and collaborate privately to perform better.
6. Establish a self-service knowledge base
A knowledge bank of helpful resources, visual guide documents and FAQs for both customers and agents is another effective way to reduce the AHT of your business. These resources can not only be used for training purposes but also give your customers and agents a better understanding of the most common issues.
When your agents have easy access to these resources, it helps them to resolve problems faster. Customers can also access these self-service resources, so they don't always have to waste time calling.
Improving the AHT of your company doesn't have to be a hard task, especially with the many tools we have at our disposal today.
With the right tool, you can reduce the AHT of your business without compromising the quality of service you offer to your customers.
Over 2000 supervisors and agents use Ender Turing to reach their KPIs 2.5x faster and improve their sales-to-service ratio while reducing their AHT and improving quality assurance.
Ender Turing combines machine learning with advanced speech analytics and sales coaching to improve the quality of service you render to your clients.
Sign up now to enjoy our free trial or visit our website to book a demo for your business.
What is AHT and how is it calculated?
Average Handle Time is a customer service metric used to measure the time it takes for a call agent to resolve customer issues or inquiries via call.
AHT also covers the duration of the entire interaction from when the customer starts the conversation to when they drop the call, including hold time, call transfers, and follow-up time.
You can calculate AHT with the formula below
AHT = (Talking time + Holding time + Follow-up time)/ Total number of calls.
What is the AHT for service?
According to Call Centre Magazine, the standard AHT for most industries is 6 minutes 3 seconds.
What is the meaning of AHT in BPO?
In BPO, AHT is the metric that measures the time it takes for an external provider to resolve a customer's problems, including the holding time, talking time and after-work follow-up.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is when a business delegates some IT-intensive processes to an external service provider that manages and measures performance metrics.
What does the acronym ACD stand for in call centers?
ACD stands for Average Call Duration. It is a metric that measures the length of a phone call with a customer, including the ring time and queue time.
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