How To Reduce Your Average Call Handling Time

Inbound Customer Services


Average Handle Time (AHT) is one of the most critical call centre metrics that measures the average duration of contact between an agent and a customer. It assesses the efficiency of a call centre to improve agents productivity and customer satisfaction. Maintaining a low AHT signifies good performance and hence boosts customer satisfaction.

How do you calculate Average Handle Time (AHT)?

AHT includes hold time and talk time but excludes ring time and queue time. 

Here is the formula for calculating AHT:

Agents will be able to answer more calls in a day if they are trained to close the customer calls more efficiently and successfully, thereby leading to reduced waiting time in the queue and higher cost efficiencies. However, many call centre managers find it challenging to reduce AHT, despite it being a predominant KPI. An intention to resolve a customer’s query quickly can negatively affect first call resolution and increase the number of repeat calls.

Below are our top tips for reducing AHT without compromising on customer satisfaction:

Record Every Call: 

It is easier to analyse the performance of an agent if every call is recorded. Managers can measure the productivity of the agents and identify the trouble areas that will hamper their quality of output.

Focus on Agents Training and Coaching: 

Contact centre agents should be trained at frequent intervals to help them reduce AHT. They should be well equipped to utilise tools such as a CRM and LiveChat to ensure that the call is answered in the lowest time possible, leaving the customer satisfied. Agents should know whom to contact in case of any doubt and from where to extract any relevant information. They must thoroughly understand the company’s products and services to resolve the issue at the earliest point.

Coaching them with the help of call recordings is the best way to improve their performance. Teach the agents by making them listen to some good examples of calls wherein the customer’s problem was resolved and the handling time was less. Also, play recordings to the agents of their conversations to indicate where they are doing well and what needs to be improved.

Streamline Agent Workflows and Processes: 

AHT can be drastically reduced if an agent’s workflow and processes are tailored to optimise their productivity. Managers should work hard to spot inefficiencies and cut out anything that inflates handling time and doesn’t lead to a good customer experience. For example, with the help of customer service solutions and hosted contact centre solutions, managers can automate all the manual tasks of agents which can minimise their busy time to a great extent.

Go in for a Dedicated Knowledge Base: 

One of the easiest ways to successfully close a call quickly and efficiently is to support them with enough knowledge material. It allows them to instantly access any information they need. Instead of thinking about the tough questions asked by the customers, the agents can quickly check the knowledge base to find the right answer, hence reducing a customer’s hold time and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Upgrade Call Routing with Advanced CX Technology: 

The best way to reduce AHT is to route the customer to the most capable and suitable agent available to deal with his/her respective query. To ensure that the most qualified agent picks up the call, your contact centre should be equipped with efficient CX technology with features such as ACD, an intelligent IVR system and skill-based routing.

Quicken Customer Greetings: 

Opening and closing customer greetings matter a lot when it comes to creating a positive customer experience. Agents should ensure that greetings are short and pleasant. Instead of asking questions like “Good morning sir… How are you today?”, replace it with “Hello Mr XYZ, how may I help you?”. This would instigate the customer to come directly to the point, along with impressing them with businesses friendly attitude. To make the conversation personalised, ensure the customer’s data is always up to date. Putting in place an omnichannel strategy along with using an effective CRM solution will help you in making smarter customer interactions.

Use Robust Contact Centre Technology: 

For delivering top-notch customer service and improving the contact centre’s performance, it is crucial to make sure that the customer service solutions and other infrastructure are operating efficiently. Agents would take longer to finish a call if the system response time and speed are low. Contact centre managers must keep a check of the system’s efficiencies as in the lead time, number of window tabs that could be opened at one time etc. They need to ensure that the agents are availing proper telephone connectivity with appropriate voice clarity and menu options.

Use IVR and Chatbots for an Improved Customer Experience: 

These self-service technologies can significantly reduce AHT by enabling customers to access some of the information themselves without getting in touch with a human. The system is also intelligent enough to route the call to the right agent, which saves a considerable amount of time.

Evaluate Call Types: 

A call centre is loaded with many types of calls. Some can be related to payments, billing, etc, and others might deal with complaints or general queries. The AHT for all of these can’t be the same and hence agents must be judged on the nature of the calls handled. Some sets of calls may need longer than usual to cater to the customer’s requirement and some may need less time. Thus the type of calls handled by an agent is crucial to determine his/her productivity when taking AHT as a KPI into consideration.

Always Value Experience:

Although all the agents have been endowed with an equal amount of training on the processes and ways to achieve lower AHT, some of them may be outperforming their coworkers. Managers should identify agents who manage to maintain low AHT and deliver an exceptional customer experience and uncover the tactics they use. Those agents should be encouraged to share their tips and knowledge with other agents to improve the performance of the contact centre as a whole.

Reducing Average Handle Time isn’t about cutting corners, it’s about optimizing your processes and improving the customer experience. As you start to analyze your AHT data, make sure you keep a close eye on happiness and satisfaction metrics.

Speed and quality are tough to balance, but in most cases, I’d make the argument that quality should always be a priority.

BDM Talk is the trusted voice for customer communication. We regularly monitor and evaluate all forms of new customer contact technologies and practices. Ensuring we provide the best service for all of our clients, enabling your business to stay ahead of the competition.

To find out more, get in touch today with one of our friendly experts on 0330 159 2626, or by following the link below.

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