Average Handle Time (AHT) is one of the most critical metrics for today’s contact center. AHT is the amount of time from the start of a customer interaction to it’s end, including, time spent interacting with an IVR, wait time, hold, time, and talk time, averaged across all your customer interactions. When customers reach out, they typically want to resolve their issue quickly, so no other metric is a better representation of Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). Keeping the average handle time low usually illustrates a high performing contact center with satisfied customers. This article shares 5 ways to shorten average handle time.
Here are five points to consider to shorten average handle time:
1. Train Your Agents
In order for agents to continue to better themselves in their careers and lower handle time, it is important for the agents to thoroughly understand the company’s product or services and how to successfully operate all of their tools, such as the organization’s CRM. Agents must also understand the hierarchy of people to assist with a customer’s question.
Continuing training throughout an agent’s career can also benefit your contact center. If your contact center records interactions with customers, this is a great resource to illustrate examples of both good and bad customer service to the agent. Managers can even use recordings of the agent to point out what the agent is doing well and what could be improved upon.
2. Use Call Routing to Accurately Match Customers with Agents
A contact center solution that provides routing based on skillset is a powerful tool for any contact center because it ensures inquiries are given to the most suitable agents, not simply the next available agent. If agents are divided by specialized knowledge, managers can spend less time training and agents are able to spend more time building knowledge in specific categories, hence reducing customer’s hold time looking for answers.
3. Provide the Agent with a Single Pane of Glass Experience
Agents need access to all the data and functions they require to perform their jobs quickly and easily. Agent experience is an important part of reducing AHT. Giving the agents a well laid out application that combines the necessary business data, robust knowledge base, easy navigation, and an embedded interaction toolbar, ensures agents aren’t wasting time with multiple applications across multiple monitors.
4. Ensure Customer Greetings are Pleasant, yet Direct
The opening and closing greetings matter to the customer because it is the first and last statement he or she will hear on the phone. Instead of wasting time asking questions or creating small talk, agents should start the conversation by asking directly how he or she can help the customer. This helps cut the call handle time down by getting the customer to immediately start speaking about their problem. However, your contact center can still make the experience personal by ensuring the customer’s data is up to date and using an effective CRM integration solution to make sure their information is available to the agent as soon as the call comes through.
5. Select the Best Technology for Your Contact Center
The type of technology your organization needs may depend upon the size, needs and budget of your contact center. The right direction is clear if you remember to focus on the functional problem you are trying to address or the business benefit you are trying to achieve. Technology is simply a tool to help your business run efficiently and effectively, thus if the best tool for your business is utilized, the average handle time will be decreased.
Although there are several other metrics contact centers look to when measuring CSAT, Average Handle Time remains one of the key metrics for today’s contact center managers.
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