Call center productivity, and success depends on excellent customer service. When customers call, it generally means an urgent situation requires a quick answer. This is why it is vital to have efficient call center practices that make each customer interaction both fast and productive. Agents must provide a positive experience for the customer from start to finish, with resolution as the end goal. One way to do this is by understanding one of the critical metrics in a call center quality assurance plan, the call center’s secret weapon to success: understanding and lowering your Average Handling Time (AHT).
This handy metric has a dual purpose: to raise customer service standards and monitor agent performance. It is important to remember that the AHT is one of several critical KPIs for call center success. Other metrics include:
Even though the AHT is not the only key to quality assurance, it is an important metric to explore. Let’s look at what Average Handling Time is, why it is essential, and how to calculate and use it in a call center quality assurance plan.
First of all, what is the average handling time? The AHT is the time an agent spends resolving a customer call. This metric measures time across various platforms, like text bot and email, including holds, delays, and transfers. Average Handling Time is necessary because:
These statistics show how vital it is to improve customer experience. Understanding and lowering AHT helps call centers refine processes and training procedures and improve satisfaction scores over time.
AHT can and does vary by industry. AHT is important to track for measuring agent efficiency and understanding customer satisfaction in a contact centre.
The AHT is not the ‘be all and end all’ of QA metrics. But it is essential because it is part of the overall picture of improving the customer journey.
The industry standard AHT time is 6 minutes and 10 seconds. This is an excellent baseline to shoot for when calculating your own AHT. Once you have some data available, it is easy to calculate your average handling time. Your AHT is your total talk time plus your total hold time and your total after-call tasks. When you’ve added these together, divide that total by the number of calls.
(Talk + Hold + Delay + Follow-Up) / #Calls = Average Handle Time (calculated in minutes or seconds)
Make sure to adjust this formula for each channel you are monitoring. For example, an email will not have a hold time, but a text chat may have holds and delays. Be cognizant of your channels to measure AHT correctly each time.
The AHT can be your secret weapon in quality assurance. But it needs to be understood and used appropriately. It is important to remember that lower AHT times alone do not mean an automatic improvement in customer service. Instead, AHT is best viewed as part of a whole suite of performance metrics that require equal focus and attention.
But AHT is a great metric to start with as you explore quality assurance further. Here are a few ways you can improve your average handling time:
Average handling time is a great metric to get your head around. While many might call it a lazy metric, AHT is anything but lazy. It can point to efficiencies (or inefficiencies) and works best as part of the big picture of data analysis. It helps call centers understand what they are doing right and where they need improvements in their processes.
Reducing average handling time is essential to measure a call center’s efficiency. But it isn’t the only QA metric that matters. Instead, AHT is part of a larger plan to raise customer service standards. It is essential to understand how these tools work together to get call centers to their goals. Ready to learn how these quality assurance metrics work together in a QA plan? Request a demo today!