In the twenty-first century, the priority of major corporations and industries has turned to customer experience and satisfaction. As a result, just like the product quality and sophisticated manufacturing units, businesses are now spending heavily on call center software and technology as well that can help them simplify, streamline, and automate customer support operations.
However, we should be clear that simply investing in the right technologies is not enough. Instead, one must also use them efficiently in order to maintain and improve key call center performance indices. For example, one of the most essential metrics among the numerous matrices such as Call Abandonment Rate, Average Queue Time, First Response Time, and so on is Average Handle Time.
But what is average handle time (AHT), how to calculate it, why is higher AHT a bad sign, and what are the ways to reduce average handle time- we’ll learn all of these in this blog.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the average handle time in a call center.
What Is Average Handle Time (AHT) In Call Centers?
Average Handle Time is a crucial call center metric or performance statistic that measures the average call time of a specific transaction. The call center software tracks every activity that takes place from the time a call is received until it is finished, including talk time, hold time, conference time, warp time, and transfer time.
A lower average handle time indicates good call center performance and streamlined operations, whereas a higher AHT indicates something is wrong with the call handling process or a lack of efficient call center software and technology.
Also, low AHT time suggests that the call center agents are qualified and know their job well, whereas higher AHT indicates that the organization has an untrained workforce that lacks the ability to manage customer calls properly.
For this reason, the ultimate aim of every customer support department all across the world is typically to reduce AHT as much as possible– whether by investing in high-quality call center software or by educating and training their employees. But, aside from that, there are some proven tips that you can follow to improve AHT.
But, before we learn how to improve the average handle time at a call center, let us first learn how to calculate it correctly.
How To Calculate Average Handle Time (AHT)?
To measure the average handle time correctly, you must first know the proper calculation method or have the appropriate formula. Besides, you will certainly require some raw data to calculate the AHT. In case you have invested in a call center software, you can simply extract these data from it; otherwise, you will have to calculate them manually.
Information You’ll Need To Calculate AHT
The three data that you’ll need are Total speak time, Total hold time, and Total warp time. Let’s take a quick look at each of these matrices.
A. Total Talk Time
As the term implies, total talk time is the total amount of time that customer center agents have spent interacting with the callers. This data can be retrieved from call center software, manually calculated, or collected through other means.
B. Total Hold Time
The average hold time is exactly what it sounds like. It is the total amount of time a customer is put on hold for whatever reason during a call to the customer service center. However, it should be noted that overall hold time only covers hold time initiated from agents’ end and not by customers.
C. Total Wrap Time
Call wrap-up time or After Call Work (ACW) time is the total time spent by a call center representative on doing follow-up activities after customer interactions are completed.
This is one of the most challenging matrices to calculate because the line between what tasks should be considered after-call and what should not is blurry. However, with the help of advanced call center software, you can easily calculate and reduce call wrap-up time.
So, once you have all of these call center matrices, feed them into the formula below:
Average Handle Time = (Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total Wrap Time) / Total Number of Calls Attended
Let us explain this with an example.
Let’s imagine the four types of information you gathered via call center software or other means are as follows:
- Total Talk Time: 3020 seconds
- Total Hold Time: 460 seconds
- Total Wrap Time: 840 seconds
- Total Number of Calls: 20
Now put all of this information into the above formula:
Average Handle Time: (3020 + 460 + 840)/20 = (4320/20) = 216 seconds
This means that your call center’s average handle time is 216 seconds.
6 Expert Tips To Improve Average Handle Time (AHT) In Call Centers
The following are some tried-and-true techniques to reduce average handle time in a call center. Let’s take a glance at each of these.
1. Train Your Agents Well
Unskilled call center representatives are one of the key causes of high AHT. For this reason, ensure that all of your agents– new and old, are properly trained and understand the entire process from top to bottom. Moreover, under no circumstances you should allow your new agents to handle customer calls without first getting proper training.
Because, this will not only lower your performance score, but it will also harm your brand image. Besides, you should also design skill development and agent training sessions on a regular basis to keep your workforce up to date on the latest call center technologies such as call center software. Also, emphasize improving call center schedule adherence.
2. Leverage Call Center Software & Technologies
Investing in the right set of call center tools and technologies is another proven way to improve average handle time. These assets will not only assist in streamlining, automating, and optimizing the entire process but will also help to build a credible brand image of your organization and boost the brand value.
Moreover, by adopting call center software, you can gain valuable insights into various matrices and data that you would not otherwise be able to obtain. Ultimately, these insights will help you assess your company’s strengths and limitations. Eventually, this data will help you fill those loopholes in your approach and improve your AHT.
3. Record & Monitor Every Call
A higher average handle time indicates that something is wrong with your strategy. Either your agents are unable to understand the customers’ concerns, or something is wrong with the process flow.
These flaws can only be discovered with the use of call center software. Using the call center tools, you should record and monitor every call. This way, you’ll be able to identify whether the issue is with the agents or the workflow. Then, based on the results, take the necessary actions to improve the customer experience and average handle time.
4. Simplify & Automate Overall Process
Based on the results, if you find that there is something wrong with the process rather than the agents, you should work to close the gaps. To make things work, you can even replace your existing call center software with the latest software or use additional services and technologies such as power dialer, remote voice team tools, and call queuing software.
In a nutshell, simplify, streamline and automate the entire process as much as possible. Make sure that each stage of the workflow is perfectly placed and needed. Discard any stages that you believe are unnecessary or have a negative impact on your AHT or other performance indicators.
5. Develop A Knowledge Library/Guide Book
We agree that humans have developed some of the most brilliant technologies the world has ever seen. Yet, when it comes to memory power, we fall far behind the same technologies that we have built. This means, no matter how experienced your agents are, there is always the possibility that they will forget what you taught them while agent training.
As a result, it is recommended that you design a knowledge base or something similar to a guidebook within your call center software that agents can use as needed. This knowledge base should include every detail about your products, services, and customer call handling procedure, among other things. So that if the call center agent forgets something, they can quickly get help from the guidebook, reducing average handling time.
6. Analyze The Results & Fill The Loopholes
The final tip for improving AHT is to analyze the results and fix every gap. After performing all of the above tasks, you may gather various information such as flaws in your process, inefficient and inexperienced agents, poor resource utilization, outdated call center software and other technologies, and so on.
Understand all of these outcomes thoroughly and devise a strategy to fix them as soon as possible. For example, if you discover that your call center software is outdated, update it quickly with the best call center software available. Similarly, if your agents are ineffective, design a training program for them, and so on.
We are confident that you will notice a dramatic improvement in AHT if you follow and implement all of the above-mentioned proven strategies in the right way.
The Bottom Line
AHT is one of the most critical call center performance indicators that should never be overlooked. You should try everything possible, from investing in the best call center software solution to providing advanced training to your agents to establish a knowledge base. The lower AHT will not only allow you to manage more phone calls and enhance CSAT, but it will also help in improving customer satisfaction and business growth by portraying a credible brand image for your company.