Customer service

Why Is the Average Handle Time an Important Metric in a Call Center?

Enreach 07/06/2020
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The Average Handle Time (AHT) is the average duration of a customer call in a call center. It starts from the moment a user connects with an agent until the end of that interaction.

This also includes all talk time and after-call work, but does not count the time a customer spends waiting in line. For example, if a customer has to wait 30 minutes to speak to an agent, that figure is not taken into account in the final AHT.

While the industry standard is 6 minutes and 10 seconds, there are times when it fluctuates to ensure quality management (QA) and excellent customer experience (CX). Average Handle Time is a valuable tool for improving customer satisfaction scores and measuring the performance of agents, as well as of various departments and organizations themselves. The AHT is used to calculate the amount of time that the customer is interacting with the agent through all channels, such as: chats, email, calls and messages.

By capturing these metrics, the support team can reduce repetitive tasks, increase First Call Resolution (FCR), plan for ongoing training for contact center agents, and improve average talk time. In addition, the AHT is one of the main factors to reduce the costs related to the call center staff.

How Is the Average Handle Time Calculated in a Call Center?

Finding the average amount of time spent on phone calls and other channels is relatively simple and includes just four metrics:

  • Total talk time.
  • Total waiting time.
  • After call work (ACW).
  • General volume of calls.

To calculate it, add the total talk times, the total hold times, and the after call work together. Then, you have to divide that figure by the total number of calls to get the AHT. The best part is that this number can be evaluated for individual agents, departments, or an entire organization to increase operational efficiency.

Depending on the complexity or high value nature of calls, Average Handle Time may be longer. However, this is not a problem for all industries, and must be assessed at the organizational level. Using contact center software to capture these metrics can help leaders determine what actions to take next for good AHT.

Why Is Average Handle Time an Important Metric?

According to Salesforce, almost 51% of customers would stop working with a company if they had a poor service experience. This means that guaranteeing a quality service must be a priority for call centers.

Therefore, monitoring Average Handle Time allows leaders to track KPIs for quality management and better understand the competitive advantages a contact center can gain. AHT is an efficiency metric that helps implement an agent-training program that focuses on improving the overall customer experience.

The AHT is important because it shows how well equipped call center agents are to handle questions and inquiries. Average Handle Time is one of many KPIs that must be constantly measured and monitored to ensure optimal success across all agent and customer interactions.

How To Increase Customer Satisfaction with Better AHT?

Customers expect fast, reliable, and personalized contact center experiences. To help solve customer problems, it is vital to assess the average call times of each agent and the contact center. The use of machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand customer sentiment can be of great help throughout the process, as it provides real-time information for call centers.

In conclusion, calculating the AHT of the agents and the company is the springboard to develop a deeper internal knowledge base, plan training programs, reduce waiting time and improve CX.

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