You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape the fact that poor customer service is bad for business. So bad in fact, that it’s been reported that businesses lose 75% of customers due to waiting times in their call centre. It’s a dire situation and these days, customers aren’t willing to wait around while you get your act together.
So, what can be done? If you want to keep your customers and attract new ones, you need to pay attention to average handle time (AHT) in your call centre. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the basics of what AHT is, why it’s important for your call centre and your customers, how to calculate it and most importantly, how to improve it.
What is AHT?
Average handle time tracks the amount of team your call centre teams are spending on a call with customers. It begins as soon as the agent picks up the call and ends when they disconnect. Bear in mind that AHT includes automated greetings, call routing, holding times, and any time that agent spends on after-call work (ACW).
Why is AHT important in a call centre?
Metrics are the most effective way of monitoring and measuring the performance of your contact centres. Tracking AHT in particular is important because it shows how long your call centre team typically need to spend on the phone to resolve queries or convert customers.
It provides a starting point to optimise performance. Ultimately, monitoring and reducing AHT can ensure that you’re able to handle higher volumes of calls and ideally, resolve more cases. Of course, you need to pay attention to the individual quality of those calls to make sure you’re able to resolve calls, otherwise your FCR might suffer.
How is AHT calculated?
Before you can accurately calculate your AHT, you need to know the following:
Talk time – The amount of time your agents spend on the call with customers
Hold time – The amount of time your customers spend on hold during a call
Total calls – The average number of calls your agents can process per day
ACW time – How much time your agents spend on ACW
Once you have an idea of these figures, you can use the following formula to calculate AHT:
Average handle time = (talk time + hold time + ACW time) / total calls
If you don’t have that data to hand or you’re not able to spend the time individually calculating your agents AHT to give you an average benchmark, don’t fret. Tools such as call tracking can automatically monitor calls, log outcomes, and provide an AHT figure – at scale.
How to improve AHT in a call centre
Work on continuous agent upskilling
One of your best tools in providing better training is right in front of you: collecting real customer intel from calls that come into your contact centre. With Conversation Analytics,you can uncover the best calls to rapidly upskill your teams and decrease average handling time, all while increasing conversion rates and ensuring that your customers are truly satisfied, without increasing waiting times and potentially missing opportunities.
Monitor call quality
If you want to optimise call centre performance, real-time monitoring plays a pivotal role. It can pinpoint common frustrations that can stall conversion or prevent issues being resolved.
With rich customer data at your fingertips, you can continuously optimise your call centre performance with better quality scoring and improved handling times. Most of all, it gives you insights that can be used to streamline processes for both your customers and agents.
Automate admin processes
Streamlining call-related agent admin can help improve AHT. Tools like Infinity can handle admin tasks associated with every single call such as logging the call and its outcomes. Plus, if you choose a software that integrates with your CRM, you can further automate tasks such as creating new contact records for first-time callers or creating an automatic follow-up for missed calls. This removes human error and automatically ticks off crucial ACW.
Perfect your scripts
It’s every call centre leader's dream is to have a team of high-flyers capable of reducing average handling times, boosting conversion rates and consistently hitting quarterly revenue targets. Collecting data on how to influence more successful outcomes is the perfect way to perfect your scripts. With tools like Agent ID, you can evaluate how engaging the calls coming in, and going out, of your contact centre are. Uncover the best calls to use to craft perfect scripts and reduce your AHT.
How Conversation Analytics can improve AHT
With Infinity’s Speech analytics suite, Conversation Analytics, you can effortlessly lower your AHT by letting intelligent software do the hard work for you. With speech analytics in place, your call centres can begin surfacing hidden insights, highlight topics and keywords, and analyse sentiment in every call. It can tell you things such as:
Why people are getting in touch, by monitoring and logging the topics of conversation, including any associated keywords and phrases.
The outcome of each call, so you can surface trends from calls that delivered positive or successful outcomes.
How customer sentiment is changing throughout the call, so you can pinpoint exactly what makes the phone call experience positive or negative and improve from there.
When you put Conversation Analytics and Agent ID together, things get even more interesting. You can gain actionable insights into how well individual agents are handling the calls coming in, and going out, of your contact centre are.
Plus, Conversation Analytics integrates seamlessly with many contact centre technologies and CRM systems, including Vocalcom. This allows you to harness rich data automatically and draw links between calls and outcomes.
Matt is Head of Brand at Infinity. He has extensive experience helping B2B and B2C brands enhance and manage their reputations, nail their positioning, and launch hard-hitting campaigns through data-driven decision-making.