What is Average Handle Time (AHT) in Call Centers?
As a call center agent, you’re likely familiar with the term “Average Handle Time” (AHT). AHT is one of the most important metrics in the call center industry, as it directly impacts a company’s bottom line. In this article, we’ll explain what AHT is, how it’s calculated, why it’s a key metric for contact center management, and how to reduce it.
What is AHT?
AHT is the average time it takes for an agent to handle a call, including talk time, hold time, and after-call work. It’s measured in seconds or minutes and is calculated by dividing the total amount of time spent on a call by the total number of calls handled by the agent. For example, if an agent handles 50 calls in a day and spends a total of 500 minutes on those calls, their AHT would be 10 minutes (500 minutes / 50 calls = 10 minutes).
How is AHT calculated?
AHT is calculated by adding the total amount of time an agent spends on a call to the total amount of time they spend on after-call work (ACW) and dividing the sum by the number of calls handled. Here’s the formula for calculating AHT:
AHT = (Talk Time + Hold Time + ACW) / Number of Calls
Talk Time is the amount of time an agent spends on the phone with a customer. Hold Time is the amount of time the customer spends on hold, waiting for the agent to come back on the line. ACW is the time an agent spends after a call completing necessary tasks, such as updating the customer’s account or completing paperwork.
Why is AHT a Key Metric for Contact Center Management?
AHT is a key metric for contact center management because it directly impacts a company’s bottom line. The longer an agent spends on a call, the more expensive it is for the company to handle that call. A high AHT can also lead to longer wait times for customers, which can negatively impact customer satisfaction.
In addition, AHT is a useful metric for measuring the efficiency of agents. If an agent has a consistently high AHT, it may be an indication that they need additional training or coaching to improve their efficiency.
How to Reduce Call Center AHT
Reducing AHT is important for call centers because it can lead to cost savings and improved customer satisfaction. Here are some strategies that call center managers can implement to reduce AHT:
- Use Call Scripts: Providing agents with call scripts can help them stay on topic and reduce unnecessary conversation. By using scripts, agents can guide the conversation to the desired outcome and reduce AHT.
- Offer Training: Providing agents with additional training on efficient communication and effective problem-solving can help them handle calls more efficiently. This can lead to a reduction in AHT and improved customer satisfaction.
- Use Technology: Implementing technology solutions such as call routing, automated responses, and self-service options can help reduce the amount of time agents spend on calls. This can lead to a reduction in AHT and improved efficiency.
- Monitor Calls: Monitoring calls can help managers identify areas where agents can improve their performance. By identifying areas where agents are struggling, managers can provide coaching and additional training to help them improve their efficiency.
Simulation training and AHT
Simulation training is a highly effective way to reduce AHT in call centers. By providing agents with a realistic simulation of a customer call, they can practice handling different scenarios and improve their efficiency. Here’s how simulation training can help reduce AHT:
- Familiarization with the System: Simulation training can help agents become more familiar with the call center software and processes, making it easier for them to navigate through different screens and access necessary information during a call. This can lead to a reduction in call handling time and an increase in productivity.
- Improved Communication Skills: Simulation training can help agents improve their communication skills by providing them with a safe environment to practice their conversational techniques. By honing their active listening, questioning, and empathy skills, agents can become more effective in resolving customer issues and reducing the time spent on a call.
- Better Problem-Solving Abilities: Simulation training can help agents develop their problem-solving abilities by exposing them to different scenarios and allowing them to brainstorm solutions in a low-risk environment. This can help agents become more confident in their abilities to handle different customer issues and reduce the time spent on a call.
- Team Building: Simulation training can also be used as a team-building exercise. Agents can work together to handle complex calls and learn from each other’s experiences. This can lead to a more collaborative and supportive work environment, which can improve overall efficiency and reduce AHT.
In conclusion, simulation training is a valuable tool for reducing AHT in call centers. By providing agents with a safe environment to practice their communication and problem-solving skills, agents can become more efficient and effective in handling customer calls.