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Average Handling Time

What is Average Handling Time (AHT)?

Average handle time (AHT) is a metric system that’s commonly used as a key performance indicator (KPI) for call centres and BPO. It illustrates the average time a customer is on a call with the representative.  

Things that are calculated in AHT:  

  • Total talk time  
  • Total hold time
  • Number of calls handled  

As mentioned earlier AHT showcases the average time of an interaction between a customer and a representative that takes place, usually measured from the customer’s call and covering the entire duration of conversation and the hold time, until the customer cuts the call.  

Call centres usually aim to reduce their average handling time in order to minimize their costs. In simple terms, the shorter the AHT, the more calls the customer representative can take. Although they want to do that, they do not want the quality of the calls to get affected, in a sense that they want to try and resolve the issue the customer is facing in one call itself. Hence, no follow up calls are needed, and as a result, the AHT would reduce on its own.  

Why is Average Handling Time (AHT) used?

AHT is commonly used to examine the efficiency, work of an agent, and the customer service organization as a whole. This can be used as a benchmark for BPOs and call centres in order to improve upon their customer service goals. As mentioned earlier, the shorter the AHT, the more calls can the agents take, which in turn leads to more customer issues resolved by them in a day. Hence making the BPO or Call Centre more profitable.  

How To calculate Average Handling Time?

In order to calculate the Average Handling Time (AHT), we must calculate the total time an agent is talking to a customer, the total time an agent is leaving the customer on hold for, the total work time after the call the agent takes to resolve the issue, then add all of them together and divide it by the total number of customers the agent speaks with.  


The formula for AHT?

Average Handling Time = (Total Talk time + Total Hold Time + Total Work Time after the call) / Number of calls taken  

Example of Average Handling time:  

An agent is getting a call. He/she answers it after a hold time of 10 seconds, then talks to the customer for 30 seconds, then puts the call on hold again for verifying details for another 20 seconds, then talks to the customer again for 20 seconds and ultimately hangs up. They then do the work that the customer has asked of them for another 30 seconds. Let’s say the agent takes 2 calls with the same process.  

Total Talk time for 2 customers: 100 seconds  

Total Hold time for 2 customers: 60 seconds  

Total work time for 2 customers: 60 seconds  


Now let’s put the numbers in the equation:  

(100+60+60)/2= 220/2= 110 seconds, which is the average handling time of the agent.  


Importance of Average Handling Time in a BPO?

In a BPO or call centre, time is one of the most crucial and important aspects that must be closely paid attention to as it is a customer-centric job, which means that handling and helping customers is the primary profile of their job. Time is extremely important when handling customers since when they call with a problem, they want it to be resolved as soon as it can, without having to be on a call with a representative for a long period of time.    

Hence in a BPO, calculating Average Handling Time is extremely important as it would help the organization gain perspective of how the agents are handling the clients and how long are, they spending on a client. Calculating this would tell them where they need to improve and how they can improve their timings.  

The lesser the time spent with the customer to resolve their problem, the better it is. These are some of the KeyPoint a BPO or call centre should focus on with respect to AHT:  

  • Average talk time  
  • Calls missed  
  • Calls declined  
  • Transfers accepted  
  • Average wait time  
  • Longest wait time  
  • Abandoned in queue  
  • Exceeded queue wait  
  • Average time to answer  
  • Average hold time  


How to reduce Average Handling Time?  

To fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of a contact centre or BPO, and its effect on the customer experience, managers need to know about everything that happens on calls, also the direct or indirect elements have to be included while calculating AHT.  

There are many ways in which one can reduce Average Handling Time of a call centre or BPO. Following are some of the ways you can reduce AHT:

1. Agent Training:

Average Handle Time comes right down to an agent’s ability to handle issues that the customers face and their setup around them. With proper and good training along with reference to software, hardware, talking, etc. would prepare agents to handle issues in a very timely and effective manner.

2. Ongoing Agent Coaching:

Agent coaching sessions provide ongoing coaching to agents or customer service representatives so that they can learn from their experience and work to enhance their average handling time, without sacrificing service and customer satisfaction.


3. Call Routing:

One of the best ways to scale back AHT is to route calls to the correct representative the very first time – no transfers or excessive hold times required. Additionally, proper call routing ensures that your customers are directly connected with the agent who has the most knowledge about the matter, hence reducing the AHT overall.  


4. Record Calls:

Recording every call, both incoming and outgoing, and reviewing them to spot inefficiencies, problems, and areas for improvement. Use these recorded calls during training sessions with new and existing agents.  


5. Processes to increase the work being done:

Reserve your agents for work only agents can do; repetitive tasks, busy work, and similar tasks should be automated, so your team can specialize in what they are doing best.    


6. Record Agent Working:

Even the simplest agents require some level of mentorship and monitoring. Call centre monitoring, similar to conferencing in on calls, are important for ongoing training and also for improving other metrics, like call transfers, hold time, and escalated calls.  


7. Allow means of Internal Communications:

Rather than transferring calls back and forth, or utilizing slow email communications, enable internal agent chat. Answers come rapidly, and as a result, the Average Handling Time improves.  


8. Build a very detailed Knowledge Base:

Representatives who have worked for a long period of time know the type of questions that are often asked by customers. Using this information “Templates” can be created with appropriate answers to the frequently asked questions and handed to other representatives, which in turn would save them time in responding to the same and enable them to help more customers in a short period of time. This would also make the customers glad as it would help them receive the information rapidly without having to answer multiple unnecessary questions just to make the representative understand the exact problem.

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