Call centers have several different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Average call handle time (ACHT) is one of the most important KPIs your company will use. This determines how efficiently your agents respond to inquiries. It describes the amount of time it takes for an agent to work with a customer.
Your call center should strive for reduced total call handle times. Doing so will allow your agents to meet customer needs more efficiently and in turn, increase the number of calls they can take.
Importance of Average Call Handle Time
Keeping your call center’s average call time low is critical. Reducing ACHT isn’t just about your call center’s performance either. When you reduce the amount of time it takes to address a customer’s query, you can better serve their needs. This will increase your customer satisfaction rates. In turn, your brand will grow and establish your business’s reputation as a leader.
Customer satisfaction depends heavily on how quickly your agents can handle customer calls. However, you can take steps to reduce your call center’s average call handle time.
How to Improve Call Handle Times
In order to improve your call center’s average call handle time, you need to understand what influences the length of these calls. Although there are many factors, there are generally three primary elements driving your average call handle time:
- Your call center’s technology
- How complex the customer’s inquiry is
- The agent’s experience and skill
Your agents should work to address customers’ issues with empathy. However, with the the right technology tools your call center can reduce its average call handle time.
Arguably the most important way you can reduce your call center’s average call handle time is by having high-quality agents. No matter how much experience an agent has, they need to be an expert in your brand. This means agents will need extensive training surrounding the products or services your call center focuses on.
During these training sessions, coach agents on call scripts and customer service. These recordings are the perfect opportunity to show agents how to properly handle calls in order to reduce average call handle times. Additionally, they should also become experts in the tools your call center used to address customer inquiries such as chat features and comprehensive CRM software.
Don’t forget to provide continued training opportunities for your agents as tools and technology advance. You’ll want to revisit your agents’ own calls in the future so they have a better idea of the approaches that are working for them, and the ones that may need improvement.
Create Knowledge Base
Depending on the extent of your call center, it may be impossible and unrealistic to expect your agents to know the answer to every problem without having to take steps to solve the problem.
Your most experienced agents and call center managers could work together to create a knowledge base. Here, you’ll include all the information your agents will need to instantly find the answers they need when they need them most. This will reduce your average call handle time when agents can access the answers they need without having to take extra time to research the solution.
Allow Omnichannel Communication
Although voice calls are almost always the more common way for customers to make inquiries, omnichannel strategies have been shown to be just as effective and can do wonders for your call center’s average call handle time. Using phone, text, and email notifications or confirmations is sure to increase customer satisfaction in the digital age.
Use IVRs and ACDs
Using interactive voice response (IVR) in conjunction with automated call distribution (ACD) can dramatically improve your average call handle time. Customers can call in and be routed to an agent in the right department who is fully prepared to handle their query.
Customers will hang up feeling satisfied that they could access some of the information they needed without having to rely on customer service professionals to handle it for them. This also reduces your ACHT by removing the need for callers to need to be transferred to other qualified agents to address their needs.
Integrate a Good CRM
Automated processes can only improve your call center’s average call handle time. CRM integrations offer several benefits that play a part in keeping your ACHT low. Your agents will be able to access customer information at any point, and will no longer have to spend additional time writing notes in the customer’s account.
The information your CRM systems provide will help your business to better understand your target customers. This will give you the opportunity to fine-tune the products and services you’re offering to your ideal callers.
One of the best ways to evaluate both your agents and customers is through call scoring. Here, you’ll be able to outline and measure your agent’s performance on calls. Having clear standards for what is expected of an agent on a call is essential and good for team morale.
But that’s not all call scoring can do for your call center’s average call handle time. Keeping track of agent interactions can also provide a wealth of information about customer concerns and what is driving customers to finally call your business. This serves two purposes:
- You can enhance agent training, knowledge base expansions, improve existing practices, and create new policies.
- You can focus your business’s branding efforts towards the areas that are most likely to generate qualified leads.
ACHT Impact For Customers
Keeping average call handle time low could have a dramatic impact on the success of your call center. This is a strategy that should be handled with finesse. If your agents try to cut corners or rush customers off the phone, call resolution rates are sure to plummet.
Agents should be trained to answer customer queries efficiently and with the goal of achieving optimal customer satisfaction, your ACHT should remain low.