Average handle time (AHT) or simply handle time is measure used in the call center industry to quantify the time duration of one transaction. This is normally calculated from the customer’s initiation of the call up to the time the call is ended, which is included any hold time, talk time and other related activities done during the transaction.
AHT is a crucial factor for productivity because the longer the AHT, the lesser calls or customers are accommodated by the agent. AHT is also important in determining call center staffing levels. The lesser the AHT, the more calls are handled, the less personnel is needed. Thus, the AHT has a direct bearing on the productivity and profitability of the company. To address the need to lower the AHT, it is important to properly identify the cause of the AHT first before in order to provide the proper solution. Moreover, the objective of lowering the handle time should be carried out without compromising the need to improve customer experience through longer talk which can drive prospects for income.
In lowering handle time, it is important to identify the AHT outliers or agents that regularly commit long handle times. Thus, there is a need to monitor agents call, identify their specific their flaws in call handling and addressing them through proper training. AHT can also be attributed to the lack of brief call guide charting company objectives on handling different types of call. There could be a need to revise the agent’s scripts and confirmation routing strategies in order to limit the handle time.
In some cases, over talking of the agent can be ascribed to his lack of control to the conversation with the customer which in turn can be caused by the agent’s unnecessary solicitation of conversation or the agents’ lack of confidence. The former pertains the tendency of agents to initiate unnecessary or personal conversation with customers while the latter refers to the predilection to over talk to offset or disguise the agent’s insecurity or anxiety. In both case, training to maintain sense of professionalism and to improve the agent’s self-confidence, would be needed to address the problem.
The company can also opt to provide incentives for agents who are able to process transactions swiftly and more efficiently. Finally, AHT can also be lengthened by the other activities that the agent must do in the process of handling the call such as note taking, among others. In which case, a support system should be made available for the agent, where one can immediately find the right information quickly and attend to customers queries or needs more efficiently. Training the agents on multitasking will also complement the use of the said system.
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