Average Handling Time: Best Practices to Handle Time
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Average Handling Time: 35 Steps to Improving the AHT in Call Center & Contact Center

Being a Chief Operating Officer or a Head of Customer Support & Experience, you understand the crucial role of the customer support division in any company’s success. 

The average handling time (AHT), which quantifies how long it typically takes a customer support representative to address and resolve a problem, is one of the primary metrics that customer care teams are evaluated on. 

Why Is AHT Important In A Call Center Or Contact Center?

Because it directly affects customer satisfaction, agent productivity, and the entire cost of providing customer care. We have been working on ways to improve AHT constantly for 15 years. And we still find ways to improve again and again.

Customer support outsourcing companies like WOW24-7 are judged by their clients with several KPIs that are integral to the Service Level Agreements (SLAs). 

What Is A Good Average Handling Time?

Great Question! According to Call Centre Magazine, the industry-standard AHT is 6 minutes and 10 seconds. Well, this number really depends on many factors. Doesn’t it? Therefore, it’s really tough to figure out what AHT is good with certainty without knowing the context beforehand.

Average Handling Time Improvement Plan:

In this article, we’d like to share our view on ways to enhance the Average Handling Time for your customer service staff. You may consider spending 10 minutes reading this article to save thousands of hours on handling customer requests later.

1. Offer thorough training 

Giving your customer care agents thorough training is one of the best strategies to increase AHT. Make sure they are well-versed in the procedures used for your customer assistance as well as your goods and services. Also, provide your agents with regular training to keep them informed of any updates or new features. 

The training should never end on CSRs though. The leadership skills of your Customer Support Team Leads will certainly massively impact the teams’ performances, including the AHT. We cover the leadership skills development planning topic in a different article in our blog.

2. Employ automation 

Automation may shorten the time customer service representatives need to spend on each transaction. By using chatbots or other automated technologies, you may provide clients with concise, clear answers to frequently asked inquiries while freeing up people to tackle more complicated problems. 

3. Employ customer segmentation

Customer segmentation enables agents to rapidly identify clients who are experiencing similar problems and offer specialized assistance. Create a system that divides clients into groups according to their inquiries or problems, enabling employees to handle frequent problems efficiently. 

4. Establish a knowledge base

Establishing a knowledge base will enable agents to easily find the data they require to respond to consumer inquiries. Provide a central database of knowledge so that agents can respond to queries right away. 

5. Employ templates

Using templates helps speed up agent responses to consumer questions and lower AHT. Make templates for commonly asked inquiries, frequent problems, and other situations that agents run through. Agents will be able to respond quickly and accurately while cutting down on the amount of time they need for each encounter.

6. Employ self-service options 

These can assist clients in locating solutions to their queries without the involvement of a representative, such as knowledge bases and FAQs. Self-service alternatives can be used to cut down on client inquiries, freeing up employees to address more complicated problems. 

7. Monitor calls 

Call monitoring may be used to find areas where agents’ performance needs to be enhanced. Listen to calls and provide agents feedback, highlighting their strong points and areas for development. To cut down on call times and boost customer satisfaction, encourage agents to employ best practices like active listening and transparent communication. 

8. Offer incentives 

Offering incentives to agents, like bonuses or recognition programs, might encourage them to perform better. Agents that consistently achieve low AHT should be rewarded, and those who exhibit outstanding customer service abilities should also be honored.  

9. Boost internal communication 

Agents can more easily get the data they require to respond to consumer inquiries if internal communication is improved. Establish communication tools to let employees easily obtain information from different departments or managers, such as internal message systems.

10. Watch response times 

Keep an eye on how quickly employees respond to client inquiries to find out where they can do better. Analytical tools may be used to monitor reaction times and spot problem areas for the agents. Agents that require further help or training should receive it. 

11. Improve call routing 

Improving call routing can help guarantee that clients are immediately connected to the appropriate agent. Put in place a system that directs calls in accordance with the kind of inquiry, ensuring that clients are immediately linked to agents who are qualified to handle their problems. 

12. Constantly examine and improve processes 

Look for ways to enhance AHT by continually reviewing and improving our customer support procedures. Use analytics tools to monitor performance and spot opportunities for process improvement or new tactic implementation. 

“By implementing the tips in this article, you may increase AHT, decrease client wait times, and boost the efficiency of your customer service department as a whole.”

13. Establish feedback loops with customers 

Invite consumer input to assist you in finding areas where your customer care procedures may be strengthened. Once a client interacts with your support team, provide them a chance to leave feedback. Next, utilize that input to determine what needs to be improved. To guarantee that input is taken into consideration, implement customer feedback loops. Use consumer input to progressively enhance your business procedures and the general client experience. 

14. Real-time analytics

Put real-time analytics to your advantage by allowing agents to swiftly and properly answer consumer inquiries by identifying trends and patterns in customer inquiries. Deploy analytics technologies that provide agents access to real-time data so they may make informed judgments and lower AHT. Make sure your customer service agents are taught how to use the technology you invest in to support your procedures.

15. Pay attention to first-call resolution

By resolving customer questions during the first call, first-call resolution can help lower AHT. Encourage agents to aim for first-call resolution and provide them with the resources and training they require to do so. You may increase customer satisfaction and lower the number of follow-up calls by fixing problems on the first contact.

Here are some other suggestions for raising AHT in your customer service department:

16. Prioritize customer service requests

By prioritizing requests, CSRs may concentrate on resolving problems and finishing them more quickly. Enable agents to respond to urgent inquiries and cut down on client wait times by implementing a system that prioritizes customer inquiries based on the urgency or seriousness of the situation. 

17. Minimize customer effort

By making it simpler for customers to handle their problems, reducing customer effort can benefit AHT. Reduce the time consumers spend on each engagement by streamlining your operations, removing pointless stages, and giving them clear instructions. 

18. Install call-back options 

Call-back options allow clients to schedule a call with an agent at a convenient time, which can help lower the AHT. Because of this, customers may have to wait less, and your customer service department may be more effective overall. 

19. Employ screen sharing

By giving agents access to the client’s screen, screen sharing enables agents to swiftly detect and handle customer concerns. Reduce the time it takes to diagnose and resolve problems by implementing screen-sharing capabilities that let agents view the customer’s screen. 

20. Utilize data to spot trends

By using data to spot trends in client inquiries, you may proactively handle frequent problems and lower AHT. Use analytics tools that provide you with insights into client inquiries so you can see patterns and trends and take appropriate action to solve them. 

21. Offer omnichannel support

By enabling consumers to contact your support team through their chosen communication channels, omnichannel assistance may help increase AHT. Deploy assistance across many channels, including chat, social media, email, and phone, to make sure that clients can readily contact your team. 

22. Employ gamification

Gamification can encourage agents to perform better and cut down on AHT. Employ gamification technologies that reward agents for exceptional performance and encourage agents to attain a low AHT. 

23. Enable agents to make decisions 

By enabling agents to take charge of customer service issues, AHT may be increased. Provide agents with the knowledge and resources they need to make decisions so they can handle problems quickly and cut down on client wait times. Employ sentiment analysis to detect angry or irritated consumers so that representatives may take proactive measures to resolve the situation and increase customer satisfaction. 

24. Use sentiment analysis techniques

Use sentiment analysis techniques to spot consumers who are upset or dissatisfied so that representatives can handle their issues right away. 

25. Adopt best practices

By ensuring that agents are employing the most efficient methods and procedures for resolving client queries, best practices can assist in decreasing AHT. Encourage agents to use these strategies in their encounters with consumers by providing training on best practices.

“A comprehensive strategy that includes methods for process improvement, technology adoption, and training is needed to improve AHT. You may decrease AHT, decrease client wait times, and boost the general effectiveness of your customer care department by putting the techniques mentioned in this article into practice”. 

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26. Employ pre-written replies

To swiftly and effectively react to typical customer queries, use pre-written responses. Agents may use this to lower AHT and increase the effectiveness of your customer care team as a whole. 

27. Self-Service

Deploy self-service alternatives: Self-service options can assist consumers in resolving their own difficulties, lowering the volume of questions that must be answered by agents and positively impacting the AHT.

28. Set reasonable AHT goals

Reasonable AHT goals can aid agents in concentrating on efficiency without compromising quality. Empower agents to establish realistic objectives and provide them with the tools they need to do so. 

29. Employ chatbots

By promptly replying to frequent questions and giving consumers the information they need to address their problems, chatbots can help minimize AHT. Use chatbots that can respond to ordinary questions and refer more complicated ones to human agents. Employ AI-powered technologies to assist agents in swiftly identifying and resolving client concerns. Use AI-powered technologies to evaluate consumer inquiries and provide agents with suggestions for how to respond. 

30. Employ video conferencing

Employ video conferencing to help agents deliver more personalized service and handle difficult problems more rapidly. Use video conferencing capabilities to enable agents to speak with clients directly when necessary. 

31. Deploy IVR to lower AHT

By promptly directing consumers to the right agent or self-service option, an IVR system can help minimize AHT. 

32. Make use of social media listening tools

With social media listening technologies, agents may swiftly locate and address client queries posted on social media websites. 

33. Offer 24/7 service

Offering clients 24/7 support will help them address their problems swiftly and cut down on wait times. Create a system offering round-the-clock assistance so clients may contact your staff anytime they want help. If you think 24/7/365 customer care is an expensive service to run, you may want to check out our 24/7 customer care outsourcing Pricing and see that it’s really not.

34. Employ virtual agents

By processing routine queries and referring more complicated ones to human agents, virtual agents can assist lower AHT. Implement virtual agents that can answer common questions so that human agents may tackle more complicated problems. 

35. Provide performance feedback

By helping agents develop their abilities, performance feedback will immediately reduce the average handling time.

How WOW24-7 Can Help:

Outsourcing to WOW24-7 may be the answer you need if you want to significantly reduce the average handling time for your customer support department. WOW24-7 is a market leader in providing outsourced customer support services, and we have a track record of decreasing AHT and improving the general customer satisfaction scores for our clients. With the aid of cutting-edge technology, our team of skilled agents, coaches, team leads, and quality assurance, we can help you offer first-rate customer service while lowering your costs and boosting your revenue. 

Our best achievement so far is a 13x lower AHT for a US-based client within 2 months from the day we took over their customer support.

To find out more about how we may assist you with reducing the AHT of your customer care department, get in touch with us today.

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