January 10, 2024

9 Tools to Improve Average Handle Time (AHT) in Contact Centers

9 Tools to Improve Average Handle Time (AHT) in Contact Centers

Average handle time (AHT) is an important metric call center agents use to measure how much time it takes to interact with a customer. This metric measures the average length of time on the phone with the customer and includes the wait time and time spent on agents after the call has been completed.

Your agents’ time is important to the success of your call center. By optimizing your agents’ free time, your contact center can improve customer service, lower queue times, and improve efficiency and sales. The nine tools below can help you improve your average handle time at your call center.

Importance of Average Handle Time (AHT)

Agents who spend too much of their time on calls with customers or completing after-call work will overall cost your contact center more money. As such, using tools that can help you improve your average handle time can help you to cut costs in the long run. Not only does improving your average handle time help cut your costs, but it also makes it easier to anticipate the number of staff needed for any given day.

Improving average handle time helps improve operations on the back end, but it also helps to enhance the customer experience as well. Reducing your average handle time means customers will spend less time waiting and less time interacting with contact center agents to have their concerns resolved.

Tools to Improve Average Handle Time

Reducing your call center’s overall average handle time allows agents to enhance their productivity and assist more customers on any given day. After-call work, data entry, and escalating customer inquiries can waste agents’ time and reduce overall workplace motivation. In addition, these processes also reduce the number of agents available to assist customers. To improve average handle time, consider using these tools at your call center.

1. Leverage IVRs

Intelligent voice response (IVR) menus are automated phone menus that help guide a customer through a series of questions. The goal of IVR menus is to help direct a customer’s call to the right agent, reducing the time spent speaking to an agent. Call centers that can effectively leverage IVR menus can help reduce the hold time/wait time for customers, thereby reducing the average handle time.

2. Apply Intelligent Call Routing (ICR)

Intelligent call routing (ICR) is another tool that call centers use to sort inbound calls and direct calls to the best agent. This tool can help reduce the average handle time by reducing the time spent transferring between agents and improving wait times.

3. Create a Knowledge Base

Creating a knowledge base provides a helpful resource for your call agents to use when customers ask frequently asked questions. This knowledge base serves as a guide for agents to find fast answers to repeat questions and allows agents to resolve customer issues faster. This internal knowledge base will need to be updated regularly to stay accurate but is one of the easiest ways to continually improve average handle time.

4. Utilize Chatbots

Adding chatbots to your website can help customers potentially resolve their concerns without the need to speak to a call agent. These chatbots can handle simple tasks and answer basic questions, which allows agents to spend their time on more complex calls and tasks.

5. Implement CRM Integrations

Choosing a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) technology for your call center can also help to improve average handle time. This type of software gives call center agents access to all the essential information they need, right in one place. The faster agents can access the data they need, the quicker they can resolve customer concerns.

6. Employ AI Solutions

As AI solutions continue to grow in popularity, contact centers can stay ahead of the game by embracing these new tools. AI solutions can offer various tools, such as transcribing calls in real-time, that can help reduce average handle time. These AI tools can also help provide quick answers for agents during the call, providing guidance that makes calls shorter and more efficient.

7. Provide Call Coaching

Choosing excellent call center agents plays a big role in helping to maintain good average handle time metrics. As such, it is important to spend adequate time training call center agents to set them up for success. Using call coaching and training sessions can help agents improve their skills and improve average handle time.

8. Reduce After-Call Work

The time spent on after-call work (ACW) is also factored in when calculating average handle time metrics. Therefore, any tools that can help your contact center reduce after-call work are worth considering. Reducing after-call work can be done in a variety of ways, such as using AI technology, creating a knowledge base, or using abbreviations.

9. Collect Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is essential in helping to view operations from the customer’s point of view. Collecting this data from customers can help your call center find new ways to improve practices and thus support an improved average handle time.

Why KPI Monitoring is Essential

Average handle time (AHT) is just one example of the many key performance indicators (KPIs) that call centers monitor to measure success. Tracking various KPIs is an essential component of your call center analytics, which allows you to measure areas of strength and areas that need improvement. KPIs can help you keep track of your goals and achievements while also identifying practices that are not working for your contact center.

Monitoring various KPI metrics not only helps improve operational aspects, cut costs, and enhance employee satisfaction, but it also has a direct result on the customer experience as well. By identifying areas that need improvement, your contact center can find new ways to improve overall customer satisfaction and thus, overall success.

Want to learn more ways to enhance your call center? Request a CallTools demo to explore ways to improve your call center today. Contact us to start your free, personalized demo today!

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