What is Average Handling Time and How Can You Reduce It?

June 23, 2020

Average Handling Time (AHT) is one of the most important metrics for contact centers, measuring the average time contact center agents spends handling a call.

As the main goal of measuring AHT is to increase agent productivity and, ultimately, improve customer satisfaction levels, it should be definitely high on the list of contact center managers.

Want to improve your AHT? Below we’ve collected a few tips that will help you achieve great customer satisfaction levels while keeping average handling time as low as possible.

Create a knowledge base and cheat sheets

Providing agents with all the information they need will be your first and most important step in improving your AHT. Start by creating knowledge bases and cheat sheets based on the most frequent questions and call scenarios.

Don’t forget to make your internal documentation searchable and more importantly easily accessible to all of your agents. With the help of a knowledge base, you’ll see that only in a few weeks your agents will start handling customer queries more consistently and confidently.

Once you created your knowledge base, don’t stop there! Further user guides, tutorials, and a FAQ & Troubleshooting section will not only show your customers how to use your products, they also teach them how to solve issues themselves.

Analyze previous calls with low AHT

Recorded calls can easily indicate performance issues: if your calls are too long, your agents might need to work on their problem-solving skills or simply better understand your processes in order handle calls in a shorter period of time. On the other hand, too short calls might jeopardize customer satisfaction levels, as there is a possibility that your agents are not able to fix an issue but terminate the call anyway.

Call centers often record their calls for training purposes, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity to use recorded calls to help agents with a higher average handling time. Allow them to analyze previous calls with low AHT, so they can receive a crystal-clear example of how they can handle a call more efficiently.

Keep your databases updated

Using one up-to-date database will not only be appreciated by your customers but also by your agents. Customer calls often take too much time because agents need to update customer information in the system. However, by systematically checking and updating your databases, you can save significant time on aligning and updating customer data.

Also, make sure that the caller history is always updated with previous conversations, no matter what agent has spoken to the customer. By doing this, customer queries can be simply picked up without customers having to repeat themselves to different agents of the team.

Let agents help each other

Providing systematic training sessions to agents is a must to any call center. But have you ever thought about involving your employees in the training process?  You can, for example, team the best-performing agents with those who still need to learn and let them participate in short training sessions. Your best-performing agents can give tips and share ideas, while agents with higher AHT can even listen in to calls handled by agents with low AHT.

If you switched to remote work due to the virus situation, this can easily be done via virtual Zoom meetings. You can also allow your agents to use an internal chat feature to be able to get information from other agents if needed.

Make customer experience first!

It is true that average handling time is an essential contact center metric, however, you should never sacrifice quality calls for the sake of low AHT levels.

In other words, don’t chase the numbers! Having a low AHT will only do any good for your business if it doesn’t harm customer experience. Otherwise, it will not only ruin customer satisfaction levels but also encourage agents to approach customers with the wrong attitude.

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