Reducing average handle time

Reducing Average Handle Time in a Contact Center

Average Handle Time (AHT) is critical to measure the efficiency of a contact center. AHT is the calculation of the average period of contact between an agent and a customer. The seemingly simple measurement of time will help improve the productivity of the center. Additionally, customer satisfaction is more likely to get better after learning about which areas need enhancing. The Time Doctor Website says that 93% of customer service teams believe that clients have higher expectations in 2021 (and will continue to have higher standards in 2022) than in previous years. 

When a contact center can maintain a low AHT, their performance gets better reviews. As we all know, a better reputation means better SEO, more clients, and long-term customer relationships.

How can a call center achieve and maintain better handle times and improve customer satisfaction? KPI Connect has over 25 years of experience, and we have a few tips and suggestions to offer!

Why is Average Handle Time Important?

Average Handle Time Calculation

As previously stated, the AHT measures the time of a phone call between an agent and a customer. Therefore, AHT data can assist a company with achieving goals and identifying issues.

Efficiency

A low AHT shows that an agent is better at problem solving and communication. The company can help by adding common complaints or queries to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Time Doctor says that 40% of businesses use this tactic to resolve customer issues, making their center more efficient. 

If the customer can find answers for their questions themselves when call volumes are high, they won’t have to wait. Having more FAQs for the public eye can give the customer a choice to problem-solve themselves or contact the center directly. As MyCustomer says, giving customers a few options will make them feel happier and in control. 

Customer Feedback and Satisfaction

Indeed, companies need their customers. If a contact center has high AHTs, their customer satisfaction is likely lower. Collecting the time of your calls can give you a higher level of analysis regarding your customer service. With correct data, you can get customer feedback and handle time analytics. According to the Time Doctor website, 67% of companies have grown through collecting customer feedback. Moreover, customer responses can elevate brand value and online reviews for a call center.  

Happier Agents

If your systems and programs are running smoothly, your handle times can become lower than if your programs and phones are outdated. Furthermore, updating technology creates a better work environment for the agents. The Warwick website quotes a 2021 study that found happiness can make individuals 12% more productive. Moreover, employees are more loyal to a work environment that treats them well. Having faithful employees means that you do not have to spend the time or money on training and staff turnover.   

Lower Support Costs

As the age-old saying goes, time is money! Finding different ways to make answering or making calls better will ensure the entire team is more productive. 

Continuously reducing your handle times will help you see what works for your company and what does not. 

Is The Company AHT Too Long?

Unhappy customer waiting on hold

Observe.AI mentions that calculating a suitable AHT relies on the industry. Quoting Cornell, the benchmark for telecommunications is just over 8 minutes. As for financial or IT services, the handling time should be just below five minutes (depending on the complexity of the calls, of course). 

There are different ways to tell if your handling time exceeds an ideal number. 

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a common theme throughout this article. Truly, customers are among the most vital factors regarding the success of a business. Even if they are not filing complaints, they are not required to use your service again. To separate your center from other agencies, you need five-star reviews and low handling times. Monitoring calls can give more insight into your center’s handle times, the amount of transfers, holds, and more. 

Hold Times

As stated in the previous paragraph, if your hold times are long and the customer has to bounce between agents, your handle times will increase. Plum Voice surveyed over 2,500 clients and found that nearly 60% of respondents believe that going on hold for one minute is too long. If the company has multiple holds or transfers, one should look into possible issues and find solutions to rectify the AHT. 

Repeat Calls

If a customer has to call a team repeatedly to handle one issue, not only will customer satisfaction suffer, but also the AHT will likely increase. Clients will feel happy with their received services if their customer complaints and questions have quick handling. If your contact center has a poor AHT, confer your repeat calls. 

Fixing your AHT

Smiling contact center agent

Know the product 

If an agent is not trained properly regarding the product they have to support, or knowledgeable of how a specific company works, they have to take time out of their call to find answers. Both handle times and hold times are at risk of increasing. 

However, as products and companies constantly evolve and update, staying on top of changes gets difficult. Employers can help agents with regular training and coaching. 

Prioritize training and coaching

Ensuring that agents are familiar with their software, computers, company standards, and other critical aspects can better prepare the employees for quick problem-solving. As we said before, continuous training will help cultivate your team and improve AHT.

Record and monitor

Recording calls (inbound and outbound) will give you plenty of important information. The given data will show the areas that need improvement. If you have excessive call transfers or common problems eating up time, your calls will show you.

Make sure the client goes to the right agent

Call routing is yet another way to reduce AHT. If a call goes to the correct representative the first time, you don’t have to worry about transfers, hold times, or poor customer service ratings. There are automated systems that can help direct callers to the right agent.

Update technology

Time Doctor says that 29% of businesses have installed live chat software to improve customer support. In turn, agent workloads get reduced. If the bot can help the customer, the client doesn’t have to call. 90% of the businesses using live chats found the software helped streamline the centers’ operation.

Summary

There are plenty of ways to reduce your Average Handle Time. 

An acceptable AHT means happier customers and agents, higher productivity, and lower support costs. 

If your hold times are excessive or if agents have to make too many transfers, you may want to consider methods to reduce your handle times. There are multiple ways to fix your AHT: know the product, put effort into consistent training, record and monitor calls, work on your call routing, and keep the technology updated. 

Those tasks may seem plentiful, but your company, agents, and clients will benefit. KPI Connect knows better than anyone! 

KPI Connect

Our company has received more than 12 awards, but there are a few that mean the most for our AHT: best technology, best training and performance, and highest employee satisfaction. KPI Connect trains our agents to be ready for any problems and help them by giving them updated software, technology, and coaching. 

The KPI philosophy is three words: collaborate, communicate and connect. Along with understanding your business, we want to become an extension of the company so we can help customers quickly. We can help you reach goals if your company needs improvement on customer service, profit, or productivity. 

Our English and French-speaking business has a wide variety of services: outsourced customer care, inbound customer support, product support, overflow services, and more. 

Contact us if you require assistance. We always look forward to working with new clients and helping solve company issues!

KPI Connect

KPI Connect Cover Photo

Everything You Need to Know About Contact Centers

Contact centers handle incoming and outgoing phone calls with a team of agents (or advisors). These centers help businesses with customer support, telemarketing, market research, handling queries, and much more. Moreover, the agents help with company image as they resolve issues to create a happier, stronger customer base. 

KPI Connect Solutions Inc. was founded in 1994 and became an award-winning contact center. As a contact center, we not only handle phone calls but also live chats, emails, messaging, etcetera. We find that having more methods of communication allows us to be a deeply involved part of your business and more helpful for your clients. Furthermore, we have both inbound and outbound abilities. 

Below, we will discuss the difference between inbound and outbound communication, benefits of hiring an outsourced contact center, and how we handle the common concerns for outsourcing a call center.

Inbound vs Outbound Contact Centers

The purpose of an inbound call center is to handle calls that are incoming to an organization or business. Often, these calls come from existing customers who have questions or are experiencing issues with products or services. New customers who may want to place an order are also considered inbound callers.

However, inbound call centers also work on dispatch services, help desk services, and order processing. Their role is much larger than simply answering phone calls.

Outbound call center agents mainly make outgoing phone calls to potential customers as well as existing customers. They may be reminding individuals of appointments, telemarketing, composing market research and survey outreach, doing post-sale follow ups or charity fundraising. 

Outbound agents are able to engage the prospect, make clients feel valued and get the people they are calling interested and involved.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Contact Center

Outsourcing

We are a bigger industry than many may believe. According to IBISWorld, the market size of the telemarketing and call center industry is $1.6 billion. Why so large? Possibly because there are many advantages to hiring a contact center for your business. 

First of all, we can help you reduce your costs and save company time. In saving full-time employees from having to answer calls, they are able to focus on other tasks. 

Secondly, contact centers will improve your business image and greatly help with customer service. The team of agents within the center go through extensive customer service training. Moreover, taking care of the customer is our main and most important goal– they receive our full attention. 

By helping the image and reputation of a business, we are able to help improve the profitability and give staff relief. 

Lastly, we do extensive call analysis. Through our analysis, we are able to monitor data and ensure the quality, availability, and connection of our calls. We want to make sure that there are no problems for the customers. If their call is pleasant and the person they speak to is helpful, the client will return.  

Outbound calling services are also great for generating leads and qualification. By reaching out to prospects, agents can generate a more authentic connection through direct communication. 

Concerns Regarding Contact Centers

As with anything, there are pros and cons. Below are a few of the concerns that come with call centers, and how we at KPI Connect can put your mind at ease. 

Will they have knowledge of my industry?

Call centers with multiple clients do not normally specialize in one specific industry. You need individuals who know your company and can answer your customer’s clients accurately. One of the main goals of KPI Connect is to become an extension of your company. We work hard to fully familiarize ourselves with your business, goals, and needs. Furthermore, we have over 125 clients and 26 years of experience, meaning that we have a very well-rounded and knowledgeable team.

Will I still have control if I outsource my contact center?

When individuals outsource, especially if they have never outsourced before, they can feel as though they’ve lost control of their business. Indeed, trusting somebody else to handle your customer service is daunting! You don’t want to spend large amounts of your time with close supervision, because then what would be the point of hiring a contact center at all? 

KPI Connect has great testimonials from our many customers. We showcase our results and work to collaborate with you so we can relieve any stress or doubts you may have. 

Can I get the same business feedback?

Customer feedback

With an in-house team, you might feel that the valuable information stemming from your customer service is closer. Customers change their minds all the time and so your business must make certain adjustments and changes to keep up. You may hold the belief that an outsourced contact center is unable to give you the same in-depth information. 

As we previously stated, KPI Connect always works to collaborate with our clients. Our goal is to provide a more satisfying experience for the customer and enhance customer relations. By working beyond normal business hours, we have the chance to help your clients much later than an in-house team can. Additionally, we are strong believers in communication so we will give you all the information you require. 

Summary

Both inbound and outbound contact centers have their specialties and benefits. You can reduce business costs, save employees time, improve the company reputation, and generate great leads. While some individuals may be concerned about the company having adequate industry knowledge, losing control, and receiving the same quality of feedback from customers, KPI Connect works hard to counteract these concerns. 

As both an inbound and outbound contact center, KPI Connect has no limits as to what we can do for your company.

KPI Connect Solutions Inc. 

The KPI philosophy is three words: collaborate, communicate and connect. Along with understanding your business, we want to become an extension of the company. Our innovative efforts allow us to produce great results and long-lasting relationships. We help many different companies of all sizes, and we feel confident that we can help your business too! Regardless if you need improvement on customer service, profit, or productivity, we can help you reach your goals. 

Our English and French-speaking company has a wide variety of services: outsourced customer care, inbound customer support, product support, overflow services, scheduled appointments, back office support, and claims or complaints. 

Contact us if you are in need of assistance. We always look forward to working with new clients and helping solve company issues!

KPI Connect

Buttons on a phone

Why a Telco Should Outsource Their Call Center

Currently in the telecommunications world, there is discussion about the benefits of outsourcing call center operations. Often, a hands-off approach is seen as risky and unnecessary. However, the truth is that when a company chooses to outsource, it can be one of the most successful ways of generating and maintaining customer loyalty. There are other benefits as well, and that is why fully understanding the advantages that outsourcing call center operations can offer your company is vital.

No More Staffing Problems

Once you opt to go with an external service provider, your company gets relief. You don’t have to deal with staffing issues, hiring, or management processes. This not only removes the time and effort needed to handle telco call center staffing, but also saves your company time and money.

Significantly Lower Costs

Money

Once you decide to outsource a call center, you quickly notice lower costs. With outsourcing, you do not have to develop an infrastructure or manage in-house operations. Instead, you get savings by handing off the duties to a service provider.

No Issues With High Call Volume

Regular overflow call volume can be a serious problem. However, outsourcing a portion of your call center to help handle calls is an easy way to save money in the long run.

Offer Extended Hour Availability Without Huge Costs

One of the best advantages of choosing to outsource your call center is the ability to operate for longer hours. Your customers can solve problems outside of normal business hours for less of a cost.

Better Uptime and Call Quality

Outsourcing to a reliable provider can net you 100 percent uptime. Also, you get great call quality at all hours. Your company will be able to surpass customer expectations and improve client relations.

Seamless Integrations

Good external providers can offer services that meld well with other day to day operations your telco offers. You want to ensure you have a well-trained team of customer service agents. Their experience dealing with all types of customer calls can help a company improve their reputation. Knowing how to handle social media interaction, live chats, voice support, and email communication are a must. If your customer base expects your brand to have those services, your outsource center has to be able to provide them.

Versatility is Key

As technology constantly shifts, companies have to keep up with the trends. Moreover, a business needs a strong customer service team to help make these changes easier for customers as well.

To this end, outsourcing to a external provider such as KPI Connect can let you have access to more flexible customer relations at an affordable cost. External providers make an effort to keep their agents trained in everything from product inquires to technical support, meaning they will cover all the bases so you do not have to.

KPI Connect

Someone on a laptop

Proper Customer Service Email Communication

There are a lot of customer service email scripts and templates out there. They are pretty easy to find, and all you have to do is copy and paste to use them. However, while they may be a quick way to communicate with your customers, scripted email responses may not be the most effective way to communicate with your customers regarding their inquiries. If a customer receives a scripted response, they are likely going to call customer service later, and be unhappy. As anyone who has worked in customer service can tell you, if the customer is already upset before contact, it has a real potential not to be a good outcome. The information in this article will help you to avoid that whole fiasco and provide you with more satisfied customers, and an enjoyable customer service experience.

 

Problems with Scripts

 

Poorly scripted emails from customer service are common enough that you have probably received one yourself at one time or another. Here is an example of a typical scripted customer service email:

“Hi, <<customer.first_name>>, Thanks for contacting the XXXX”. Then, it usually goes on to give the customer service team’s hours and days of operation.

There are a few problems with this type of email, and you can sense them as you are reading it. Someone did not use your name, and the whole thing just feels robotic and computerized. Worse still, the email points out that nothing can be done to fix the customer’s problem because it is after business hours. It is one thing to tell a customer that you can’t fix their problems after you have tried, or at least heard what they had to say, but to tell them right away with the first response that you can’t fix their problems, without even talking to them, can be a put off.

 

How to Send Better Emails and Make Better Scripts

 

If you do not have a 24-hour customer service response team, and someone sends you an email after business hours, it is okay to use an automated, scripted response. However, the script needs to be written the right way. Rather than stating that you are unable to fix the customer’s problem because it is after business hours, add “This is an automatically generated email” at the end of your automated email. Why does this work? Generally, people who see that the reply they got back was automatically generated, they know that their message was received and once your business is open, they will get a real response. People sometimes will feel anxious if they receive no response back at all and will begin to wonder if their message was received in the first place. So, an automated response helps reassure them that their message was received. When you add that the business is closed at this time, but that their email will be replied to as soon as possible, or answered in order, they at least know they are in line to have a response.

 

You could consider sending out personalized emails yourself. No matter how big your company is, it should still be rooted in making the customers happy. However, it takes a lot of time and commitment that many business owners do not have. If you are wanting your business to have expanded hours for customer response, it is a great idea to hire a contact center like KPI Connect that is able to provide customer service email response outside of your normal business hours. This way your customers are able to be replied to by a real person vs an automated response. Whether you’re sending personal emails or automated scripted emails, it’s important that your customers feel like they have been heard.

 

Why Your Pharmacy Would benefit By Complimenting Its Customer Service By Outsourcing

Pharmacies handle a great deal of sensitive personal information. Not only do they fill people’s medication that they are in need of, they are also privy to knowledge of people’s ailments, all of their medical, insurance, personal information, and more. Most people see pharmacies as one of the most trusted community businesses because pharmacists help people when they are in need of medications that range from minor to life saving. They know that they are able to trust their pharmacists.

So, when it comes to customer service calls, outsourcing may be a scary idea for many pharmacy owners. However, it can actually benefit the business in many ways, and be done in a secure and confidential manner.

As a customer, it can be very frustrating to call your pharmacy, especially if they are known to have long hold times or that your call will be unanswered. This causes a negative customer service experience for customers, especially given that pharmacy calls can be vitally important to their health. Your business likely misses calls every day due to high call volumes and after-hours calls. In other businesses, missed calls are missed business opportunities, which is true of pharmacies, as well. One of the most beneficial aspects of outsourcing customer service calls is that they can help with answering calls during high call volume times, and they can answer calls after hours, creating less work for pharmacy employees and leaving your customers happy knowing that they are able to fill their prescriptions in a timely manner.

For the most part, pharmacists do not end up answering the phones and have assistants or clerks to do so. Today, customers often do not even interact with the pharmacist, coming in contact with assistants or clerks instead unless it is necessary that the pharmacist speak directly to the customer about their medications. Call center agents are trained to handle customer service calls and handle them efficiently. This means that they’re able to solve customers’ problems and answer their questions accurately as they are highly trained. Not only that, they excel at providing customer satisfaction, ensuring that customers come away from the calls feeling positive about them and are far less likely to provide businesses with negative customer service feedback.

Lots of pharmacies have only a handful of employees to answer calls, most of which perform other job duties, as well. This takes them away from their other work and burdens them with a heavy workload. Stressed out employees are not as capable to provide the same level of service to each customer if they have multiple things that they need to do at once. They become distracted, make mistakes, which one doesn’t want in a pharmacy. You’re likely to start seeing a higher employee turnover rate, as well. In this scenario, everyone loses. Outsourcing your pharmacy customer service calls to a call center can ease their workload and provide your employees with a better working environment with less stress.

If your pharmacy has experienced lots of high call volume, you’ve likely started thinking about hiring more employees to answer the calls. But, when exploring this idea, it doesn’t take long to learn that there are tons of extra costs and equipment needed. Many pharmacies don’t have room to expand to include a call-center or office in which several people can answer calls. But, outsourcing the calls to an already established call center can offset these costs. You won’t be paying to install extra equipment, phones, furnishings or office supplies. Instead, the call center already has them and you’re paying for their associates’ work and training, rather than the equipment they use.

There is a stigma that surrounds outsourcing. Many people believe that it takes jobs from other employees. The reality instead is that outsourcing creates jobs and will improve both employee and customer satisfaction. So, if you’ve ever considered outsourcing your pharmacy’s customer service calls, contact KPI Connect to see how they can help your pharmacy run more smoothly and help more people with their needs.

 

More Tips to Reduce Hold Times

Lengthy hold times are a cardinal sin for any business. Once a customer has been banished to the dark void of the hold queue, there is a one-in-three chance that they give up after waiting less than two minutes and never try calling back again. Rather than losing both existing and potential customers, it is imperative to cut back the amount of time a caller has to wait and allow the calls to flow more efficiently. If our first list of ways to reduce hold times was not enough, here are:

 

Six Ways to Increase Call Efficiency

 

  1. More Efficient Call Routing

 

When a customer contacts a business with a question or concern, they want to speak to the most qualified agent available in the appropriate department right away. With the right system in place, a customer should be able to do exactly that and have their issues resolved with minimal hold time. An automated self-service queue may eliminate the need to speak to a live agent altogether by enabling customers to pay bills, reset passwords, and track packages on their own.

 

  1. Trust Your Team

 

Rather than wasting valuable time escalating calls to management, entrust your well-trained team of agents with the ability to make important decisions that are both fair and consistent. Figure out what the most common reasons (and resolutions) for call escalation, and find solutions that the first level agents can implement. Not only does this reduce hold times, it keeps customers happy and proves to your staff that you are confident in their judgment, knowledge, and problem-solving skills.

 

  1. Conference Call

 

There are few things more tedious for a customer than being put on hold repeatedly and having to explain their situation over and over to multiple agents, support personnel, and managers. Cut down on hold times and customer frustration with the use of conference calls, allowing a more qualified staff member to join the conversation, hear what  is going on, and help to resolve the issue without the caller needing to repeat themselves.

 

  1. Update Customer Information

 

Having up-to-date customer information available at an agent’s fingertips reduces both handling times and hold times. Ensure that your software is fully integrated so that all updates are saved on every system and instruct agents to occasionally ask customers if any changes need to be made.

 

  1. Schedule Shifts Smartly

 

By analyzing call volume data, you can determine the peak periods when agents are busier and hold times increase. Instead of simply hiring additional agents, schedule more shifts for times when agents are most needed and less shifts during normally low-volume periods.

 

  1. Build a Better Hold Message

 

Putting customers on hold is inevitable, so make sure you have an upgraded hold message designed to keep them on the line. Music plays a big rolethe average caller sticks around for up to one minute longer if they hear music, and the type of music should be geared toward your target demographic for maximum effectiveness. Some newer systems even allow the caller to choose from a list of musical genres, or you can use your hold message to promote your products and services. Alternatively, give your customers the ultimate freedom by offering a callback option rather than waiting on hold.