The Average Handling Time metric is used in a call centre to calculate the total length of time from the start of the conversation with the customer to the end of the customer contact including the After Call Work).
So if the agent spends 100 seconds having a conversation with the customer and then spends another 100 seconds typing notes into a system once the customer has disconnected the Average Handle Time is 200 seconds:
Formula: (total talk time) + (total hold time) + (total wrap up time) / (total number of calls) = AHT
How to reduce Average Handle Time
Notice how no one ever asks how can I increase Average Handle Time?
The focus on a call centre is always to reduce AHT as there is a direct correlation in reduced operating costs if you can achieve it.
Put simply, lower AHT equals fewer agents required.
Which equals less cost.
As a result, unfortunately, call centres often then put the focus on agents to reduce their AHT.
In fact, there are still many call centres today that have AHT targets/KPIs on agents.
Leading contact centre practitioners are passionate advocates as to why the AHT Metric should be extinct for call centre agents.
Rather, it should be a focus of call centre managers only.
I’ll let you read the above article but the short version is:
- Focus on the root causes of why AHT is long in your centre (hint: look at your systems and processes).
- Let your agents worry about the quality of their customer interactions, not having to look at a stopwatch.
- Understand that industry-wide, AHT is increasing as the complexity of customer interactions is increasing due to more of the simpler calls being handled by self-service options.
How can you model the impact of Average Handling Time?
As we mentioned, Average Handling Time can have a massive impact on the performance of your call centre.
It’s a great tool for seeing the difference saving or adding seconds of AHT can do to your Service Levels etc.
Recommended further reading: The Top 10 KPIs and Metrics in call centres (and what they all mean)
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