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As per research, 58% of customers admit customer service is an important factor to consider before choosing a brand.
Retaining your customers for your organization is not easy because of an extremely competitive business arena. If you are unable to grab a top spot in this game, your customers will immediately move towards your competitors, just in a blink. This is why you should be fully responsive and facilitate two-way communication with your clients so that your company can engage with them on a deeper level.
And one way to do that is by employing sophisticated tools and technologies for your call center.
Making Your Customers Wait
What happens when your customers are made to listen to “your call is important to us” on repeat when they call you?
Do your customers really believe the automated message?
Honestly, if you make them wait longer, they know you don’t value them much.
The average wait time has become a key performance indicator for one reason – you have to know how long you take to answer customer calls.
But who decides what is the average wait time for a customer? If you are finding ways to reduce it so that all the customer calls are answered quickly and effectively, we have got you covered.
Call Center Average Wait Time
Going by the definition, the Average Wait Time (AWT), aka Average Speed of Answer (ASA), is the average time spent by an inbound call either waiting for a callback or in the queue if this feature is active in your IVR system.
Call Center Average Handle Time
Average Handle Time, aka AHT, is the average time a representative takes to complete its customer call or interaction. It is easy to measure AWT globally across any contact center with the help of a ring group, agent, or phone number.
The Numbers Speak
The standard, traditional service level of the call center industry is 80% of the calls answered within 20 seconds. However, there are a few reasons why this number doesn’t stand correct for many companies.
What Is the Standard Waiting Time for Customer Satisfaction?
American Express conducted a study that found that the maximum amount of time callers waited to speak to an executive was 13 minutes.
A few years ago, a similar study conducted by Arise found that around two-thirds of consumers were okay with the hold time being less than two minutes. However, 13% of customers said that no hold times were acceptable to them. The study further stated that about 34% or one-third of callers disconnect and never call back if their calls are not answered quickly. This is termed as “Abandonment Rate”, which forms an important call center metric.
Here the data shows how the trend is rapidly increasing toward customer expectations of the service.
Undoubtedly, e-commerce and social media have dispersed in every corner of the world and consumers have any service right at their fingertips. In such a fast-paced world, it’s important for call centers to keep up with their customers’ demands.
How Can You Reduce the Average Wait Time?
As per reports, 59% of customers agree they have higher expectations for customer support than they did one year ago.
AWT is what determines the health of your call center. These numbers give you a big-picture that speaks about how your agents are performing, how to optimize IVR, and more. By addressing these factors, you can easily reduce AWT and abandoned calls.
However, the answer doesn’t always stick to getting the numbers down. So here we have gathered are a few general tips to reduce long hold times for your valued customers:
1. Optimizing Your Contact Center Call Queue
It isn’t uncommon for people to report frustrating customer experience with an ineffective IVR. Such issues give customers confusing option trees, route their call to the wrong places, or at times, even misread their inputs.
Ensure to test your IVR so that your callers can get connected with the right department quickly. This can further minimize the amount of time they spend waiting on the call center agents, who often have to transfer their calls anyway.
2. Try to Change Your Workforce Management Strategy
If your agent can handle his calls faster and efficiently resolve all the callers’ needs, your company can enjoy enhanced customer satisfaction and higher rates of first call resolution.
Additionally, if you can empower your call center representatives to monitor their own calls in the queue, you can also incentivize them to reduce call times whenever the queues exceed a certain limit.
Now, if you think your contact center’s quality management is well enough, you can also choose to hire more staff.
3. Relax Your Call Center Service Level
At times, reducing the average wait time isn’t the only thing to improve your customer satisfaction ratio. You can also make your agents answer the calls extensively and not rush the call. This way your callers can enjoy a superior experience.
Take this for instance:
An 80-20 service level in a contact center means that 80 percent of the calls are answered within 20 seconds.
So, as your contact center metrics, if you can relax service level from 80/20 to 80/30 or even 80/60, with an almost negligible impact on abandonment rate, then there may be other factors for your customers to be interested in than less waiting time.
Many types of research state that 75% of consumers can spend more money with a company that offers positive customer service. Additionally, callers also expect their customer service representatives to be knowledgeable, friendly, and quick with their responses.
31% of individuals admit that a knowledgeable customer service representative is a very important aspect.
Why Is Reducing AWT in Your Contact Center Important?
Reducing the average wait time for your callers is directly proportional to customer satisfaction. The lesser time it takes for agents to resolve customer needs, the better.
You can do this by hiring more representatives, optimizing your IVR system and ACD, or giving representatives additional training to pick up their pace while running through queues.