When it comes to customer turnover rate, average handling time (which we’ll call AHT from here on in) can make a huge difference. Depending on its duration, your AHT may be the driving force in what’s making your customers stick with you and what’s causing them to leave in droves.
A low AHT is a sign of strong performance and customer satisfaction. But if your AHT is currently higher than you’d like it to be, then it sounds like you may need to make some adjustments here and there.
To help slash the time it takes your agents to handle calls with their customers, here are some handy tips and advice.
What does average handling time mean?
A metric that’s traditionally used in call centres where the point of contact is immediate (i.e., phone calls or live chats), AHT measures the average time agents spend on a call or chat – including hold time and conversation time.
To calculate AHT, call centres use the following formula:
AHT = (total talk time + total hold time + after-call time) / total number of calls
We can break down the elements that make up AHT as follows:
- Talk time: the total time that agents spend talking to customers
- Hold time: the time customers spend waiting for agent to deal with their issue(s)
- After-call time: the time spent on tasks (such as making notes, sending emails, or categorising the conversation) that a call centre employee needs to perform to resolve a query before handling another call
The formula can be used to calculate AHT for specific agents, entire departments or for the contact centre as a whole.
It’s important to note that the average handling time of a business can differ depending on the industry. Each industry is likely to have a different benchmark based on the nature of customer enquiries and their needs, so it can sometimes be difficult to compare metrics.
AHT can also have a high level of variation between departments in the same contact centre because some might handle quicker-to-answer questions, while others might be much more complex and require more attention.