What can you Learn from Average Handle Times in Contact Centers?

 

We’ve all called into a call center at some point, typically for problem resolution or perhaps a brief service.  Sometimes referred to as a contact center, its name inherently implies that it serves the purpose of communication, predominantly by phone.

Each call or point of communication typically triggers a series of tasks, often referred to as After-Call Work (ACW), which vary depending on the purpose of each particular contact center and call. In order to help track and organize metrics to make these tasks as efficient as possible, the industry utilizes indicators that will help track and improve the process, called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

There are two ways call KPIs can be measured: with objective quantifiable goals and with subjective qualitative goals. Quantifiable goals are those measured such as call handle time, on-hold time, percentage of occupancy or availability of agents; while qualitative goals are a little more challenging to measure, such as subject knowledge and competency, error and rework rate, and adherence to established procedures.

One of the most widely-used metrics across contact centers is Average Handle Time (AHT), which is typically measure from the initial point of contact until all subsequent after-call tasks have been completed. This particular metric can indicate the level of service each caller is getting – the shorter the AHT the better the call. A shorter Average Handle Time implies that the agent is knowledgeable and familiar with the contact center’s appropriate protocol, and is able to care for the caller with quality and urgency; whereas a longer AHTs or long on-hold times can indicate a need for training in order to improve each caller’s experience. Long AHTs can also imply other problems which prevent resolution, including faulty equipment, inadequate protocols, or need for campaign awareness.

There are an endless number of KPIs you can measure in your contact center. Since the most strengths and opportunities can be implied from this single metric, it is one of the most universally tracked in contact centers, and deservedly garners the most attention. The next step is knowing what to do with the KPIs you track.

 

By: Fernan Saenz