One of the most dreaded experiences for a customer is when he is put on hold while calling to resolve an issue. During the call, the client expects to get the solution fast. So, enhanced productivity and efficiency of the contact center are essential. Average Handle Time (AHT) is the call center metric used to reduce the call time and improve its quality.

What is Average Handle Time (AHT)?

Reduction of time for call center agent

An Average Handle Time (AHT) represents the average duration of customer call interaction. It includes the time a customer begins a call until the end of a call and includes after-call work. The average Handle Time metric used as a Key Performance Indicator for call centers.

AHT Calculation Formula:

[Talk + hold + follow up] / Calls = AHT (calculated in minutes or seconds)

Follow-up time is the time required to get back to the customer to resolve a problem if the problem was unsolved in the first call. AHT is used to examine calls everywhere, but it can also be used to examine the quality of chats and emails.

Importance of Average Handle Time for Call Centers:

According to the Customer Experience Trends Report by Zendesk, 66% of customers solve their problems with the company on a phone call. So, managers must focus on improving the call quality in the call center. Analysis of all the factors of call is necessary. AHT can help check the efficiency of calls and agents of the call center. Customer loss can be prevented that may occur due to the poor quality of a phone call.

If the customer is unable to get a solution to his problem, there is a considerable chance of losing that customer. Poor customer service is a direct reflection of low-quality calls at the call centers. AHT examines total talk time, total hold time, and the total number of calls handled so you will get to know about the phone call quality. 


Benefits of using AHT in a Call Center

Call Center automation saves operation time of agents

Save Customers’ Time:

AHT deals with the most valuable entity to the customer-time. 66% of the customers believed that the most important thing the company can do for them is value their time, according to Forrester’s report. 

Improve Call Center Productivity:

By calculating AHT at contact centers, the management can examine agent performance. Based on agent performance, management can perform necessary activities:

      1. Appreciation, promotion, or rewarding the desired agents.
      2. Training of average performers.
      3. Modification in training processes.
      4. Spend time on productive tasks by identifying unnecessary call time.

Development of Several Business Departments: 

AHT can help with lags, identification of areas of improvement, and speed up the processes. For example, IT Infrastructure could have issues, where it takes time to pull out customers’ data from the server. The customer is then kept on hold while the agent is waiting for the data. AHT is beneficial for the call center operations and the development of several business departments if used properly. In the above example, AHT can tell to managers about the lack of proper IT infrastructure. 

Evaluation of Chats and Emails:

Not only phone calls but chats and email are also essential parts of the call center to stay connected with the customer. If a customer is having a critical issue, it may not be possible to resolve it on a phone call. Every customer can’t stay on call until the problem gets resolved. In such situations, call center agents try to resolve issues by email or chats with customers. AHT is not limited to calls; it can also be used in evaluating chats and emails. 

The various AI products of Kwantics like Speech Analytics, Voice Assistant, Speech Recognition, and Speech Synthesis can play an integral role in the development of call center operations. The AI Voice Assistant by Kwantics can interact in a human-like voice with customers and resolve their queries. Intelligent features of AI products like instant responding, call data analysis, and end-of-call analysis are changing the contact center industry. With AI, the quality of customer calls is further improving as AHT is reducing.

Average Handling Time Industry Standard

Several factors affect AHT, which is different for every industry. Call Center Magazine studied around 190 countries and discovered that the Average Handle Time for almost all major companies is about six minutes and three seconds. To calculate the global AHT industry-standard, Call Center Magazine used its Erlang calculator

There is another study performed by Cornell University. The chart below shows the result of it:

Industry Sector AHT (seconds)
IT and Business Services 282
Retail 324
Financial Services 282
Telecommunications 528

According to its category mentioned, you can find and tally the AHT of businesses, whether it fits in a given range or not.


Challenges of Average Handle Time

Detecting the area where time is wasting is the biggest challenge for AHT. The powerful features of AI products are capable of finding the wasted time. For example, AI Solutions can accurately predict which agents are having trouble explaining products to customers. The Speech Analytics system can detect if customers are asking the agents again to explain the product. With these insights, managers can prepare an action plan for the agents. 

How to Reduce /Improve Average Handle Time?

Reducing time around globe

Reducing the AHT of a call should not decrease the quality of call interaction. Identifying customer issues accurately and resolving them without any further delay is the ultimate reason to reduce and improve AHT. Below are Some Points to Improve/Reduce AHT:


Make Sure Agents are Well Trained:

First, managers need to examine agents’ previous calls, prepare a proper training plan for such agents, and train them.

Improve Your Training Session Quality:

Once underperformer agent’s issues are detected, managers need to plan accordingly. With the help of analytics reports, managers can draft a custom training plan for the agents.

 Use Knowledge Base:

Having a comprehensive knowledge base is another smart way to reduce AHT on a call. Using a knowledge base will help the agent find the required information quickly while giving a quick response to the customer.

AHT is ultimately related to customer experience. By continuous improvement in AHT, call centers can enhance their entire customer interaction. Customer interaction quality will lead to customer satisfaction and gain customer loyalty. This will result in brand value enhancement. 

Kwantics has AI-Powered speech solutions like Voice Assistant and Speech Analysis for call centers. To know more, see our services in BPOs. We are offering a live demo of our AI-Powered solution to answer your queries. 

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