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Tracking average handle times will ruin your call center. Here is why – and how to fix it

Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash
Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash

Ruin is not an option.

What is Average Handle Time?

Average handle time, or AHT, is a call center metric that helps measure agent efficiency and provide better customer service. AHT shows how much time an agent needs to solve a customer’s problem. It begins when a customer initiates a call and ends when the agent has completed all the after-call tasks. This is how you calculate it:

(Talk time + Hold time + Follow-up time) / Number of total calls 

The industry standard for AHT 

A whole range of factors can influence AHT – it’s a challenge to set a specific standard for each and every industry. Call Centre Magazine figured out a global standard for AHT by analyzing more than 190K entries. It turns out the average handle time for most companies (regardless of industry and team size) is 6 minutes and 3 seconds.

Experts state that an agent should pick up the phone within the first 20 seconds. But such variables as industry type, team size and number of departments leave the notion of an acceptable AHT up for debate. 

Why chasing metrics will RUIN your call center

Call center activity shouldn’t be governed by the principle of “quantity over quality.” Instructing your agents to chase quicker calls while sacrificing customer satisfaction is a losing strategy. The aim is to become more efficient, not micromanage your agents until they’re sprinting through their calls.

Let me repeat this: sacrificing call quality for numbers will hurt you in the long term. Providing bad customer service is a great way to lose customers.

How to lower your call handle times

Do you need to lower call handle times? Are you ready to sacrifice customer experience for the sake of efficiency? Does it have to be a zero sum game? 

Some of our customers have managed to free up their agents to the point where they can now dedicate more time to serving their customers properly. They offloaded repetitive, algorithmic tasks to Dasha AI, freeing up their agents in the process. As the pressure on agents subsided, so did their efficiency improve in servicing customers at their own pace. In turn, the customer NPS scores have gone up. And in case you’re wondering – yes – the NPS scores are collected by Dasha on live calls with additional open feedback. 

Our tech is not the only way to improve your customer service and shift the focus from AHT to serving the buyers. Proactive customer service is where it’s at. And there are other call center AI solutions that will enable you to go proactive. Your agents can use an AI assistant for quicker training, employ analytics to identify customer profiles or get a single up-to-date reference point in the form of an AI-powered database, among other things.

If call center optimization and customer service are the things you spend your days thinking about, we’ll love to bounce ideas off of you! Schedule a time to talk here

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