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What Is Average Handle Time & How To Reduce It Without Sacrificing CSAT?

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Utsav shah

Senior Writer:

green tickDate: March 28, 2024

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.

Average Handle Time

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), what is the AHT formula in BPO, why is higher AHT in a call center 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, wrap time, and transfer time.

A lower AHT indicates good call center performance and streamlined operations, whereas a higher call center AHT indicates something is wrong with the call handling process or a lack of efficient call center software and technology.

Also, low AHT in a call center suggests that the 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.

What is average handle time

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 call center AHT.

However, before we learn how to improve the average handle time at a call center, let us first learn why AHT is important.

You May Also Read : The 14 Best Virtual Call Center Software

Why Is Average Handle Time Important?

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a critical call center metric that helps management gauge the effectiveness of their agents as well as the work process.

For example, if you find that the average AHT at your call center is higher than average, it’s a sign that there are some flaws in the process that need urgently fixed.

Likewise, if AHT in your call center is better than the average industry AHT, it’s a sign that your workforce is well-versed and the operations are well-established.

In a nutshell, by calculating and improving this key call center KPI- AHT, you can eventually improve your CSAT- another key call center metric.

AHT Formula: 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 require some raw data to calculate the AHT in a call center. If you have invested in call center software, you can simply extract these data to avoid manual calculation.

Average Handle Time Formula

Information To Calculate Average Handle Time Formula In BPO

The three data you’ll need for AHT calculation are Total speak time, Total hold time, and Total wrap 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 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 the 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 these call center matrices, feed them into the AHT 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 AHT 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.

You May Also Read : What is CRM Call Center? 3 CRM Software to Check Out

What Is a Good Average Handle Time?

Understandably, the value of “good” average handle time, or AHT, varies by industry. Besides, it also depends on the company’s goals for customer experience, the products/services they offer, and the customer support infrastructure they have.

The same information is revealed in a study conducted by CallHippo. In their research, they attempt to determine the average good handle time for various types of industries as well as different scales of industries. They found the following results:

Average Call Handling Time By Industry
SectorAverage Handle Time (In Minutes)
Delivery & Shipping2.5
Banking & Financial services6.2
Travel & Transportation7.8
Consulting services7.2
Real estate3.5


As you can see, the average handle time varies by industry as well as by the size of the industries.

For example, the average handle time in the delivery business is 4.45 minutes, whereas in the retail business, it is 6.25 minutes. This means that there is no such thing as a “good” AHT.

The definition and value of a “good” call center AHT vary by company, size, customer base, and various other factors.

Benefits of Improved Average Handle Time

As you might expect, increased AHT benefits the organization in several ways, as explained below:

  1. Increased customer satisfaction (CSAT): The first major benefit of improving average handle time is enhanced customer satisfaction Score. The higher customer satisfaction will eventually enhance the customer retention rate as well.
  2. Boost team productivity: In addition to the CSAT, increased handle time on average also helps teams work more productively. This is because improved CSAT has a direct impact on both team morale and overall team productivity.
  3. Reduced cost per call: This is the third advantage of increased average call handle time (AHT). The team can handle more calls in a given time due to a decreased average handling time. The cost per call will eventually go down as a result of this.

Along with these important advantages, improved average handle time also improves several other call center metrics such as call abandonment rate, dropped calls rate, revenue per call, and calls per agent, among others.

How Does Call Center Software Improve Average Handle Time?

One of the best ways to reduce AHT is to use call center software. This is because it provides you with real-time insights into what’s happening across your call center, how productive your agents are, your strengths and weaknesses, and so on.

Furthermore, you can get ideas about various key call center metrics that affect AHT in a call center, such as talk time, hold time, conference time, wrap time, and transfer time. Based on these valuable insights, you can quickly take the necessary measures and direct your efforts to improve call center AHT.

Let’s now look at ways to improve AHT in order to improve First Contact Resolution (FCR), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and other call center key performance indicators.

6 Expert Tips To Improve Average Handle Time (AHT) In Call Centers

The following are some tried-and-true techniques to reduce AHT 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.

Tips To Improve Average Handle Time

Moreover, under no circumstances should you 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 initiate skill development and agent training sessions regularly 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 AHT.

These assets will not only assist in streamlining, automating, and optimizing the process but will also help to build a credible brand image for your organization.

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 call center 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 AHT.

Improve 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 call center 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 handle time.

6. Analyze The Results & Fill The Loopholes

The final tip for improving AHT in a call center 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.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

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 call center AHT (Average Handle Time) 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 call center AHT will not only allow you to manage more phone calls and enhance CSAT, but it will also help in improving customer’s satisfaction and business growth by portraying a credible brand image for your company.


1. What affects AHT?

Some of the factors that have a negative impact on AHT in a call center are inexperienced call center agents, insufficient call center infrastructure and technologies, poorly designed call center processes, and a low priority placed on customer satisfaction.

2. What is a good average handle time for a call center?

The ideal average handle time for a call center varies by business size and industry. For instance, the average handle time for businesses that deal with delivery services is 4.45, whereas, for businesses that deal with retail, it is 6.25.

3. Should AHT be high or low?

The average handle time (AHT) should be as low as possible. Higher AHT indicates that something is wrong with the process, the agents, or both.

4. What is AHT KPI in call centers?

AHT, or average handle time, is a critical call center KPI that helps us determine how effective the call center agents and processes are.

5. What is SLA in a call center?

Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, are a set of standards for customer service that support representatives must adhere to when interacting with customers.

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