Talk Time is defined as the amount of time a call centre agent actual talks to a customer during a call from the start to the end of the call.
In some call centres, Talk Time does not include the time the customer was placed on hold.
The Talk time metric is usually measured as an average with the formula:
Total Talk Time / Number of calls = average talk time
Is Talk Time important?
Absolutely, although it’s not something that should be looked at in isolation.
Like anything in call centres, a balance is important.
No point having an agent with a low talk time who on the surface appears incredibly efficient, but when you listen to the calls the customer experience is appalling.
They are actually doing more damage to your business speaking to more customers than someone with a much higher talk time!
If someone talks a bit longer but delivers an exceptional customer experience is that a bad thing?
Should you use the Talk Time metric as a KPI?
For 99% of call centres out there, no.
No, no and no.
The last thing you want is an agent wrapping up a call because they are worried they have been speaking a bit too long and the customer then gets left with a half answered enquiry.
By all means, monitor it.
And as a centre, lowering your Talk Time whilst maintaining quality is a good outcome for the business.
But that normally comes from process and system improvements rather than putting the heat on some agents to stop talking as much.
If you have some extreme statistical outliers who, on average, have much lower or higher Talk Time than everyone else then hone in on those agents.
But small variations are normal. Human in fact.
FYI – Call Centre Talk Time is part of the Average Handling Time metric which is more commonly (but not endorsed by me) as a way to measure agent performance. You can read more about that here.