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?
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.
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.
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your systems and programs are running smoothly, your handle times can become lower than if your programs and phones are outdated.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?
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!