June 12, 2024

Improving Average Answer Speed (ASA) for Call Center Success

Improving Average Answer Speed (ASA) for Call Center Success

Optimizing agent performance and customer satisfaction is a must for your call center, and tracking performance metrics can help you do this. Average Speed of Answer is one measurement that highlights the areas that need improving in your customer journey, making it a valuable tool for both managers and agents.

What Is Average Speed of Answer?

Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is the average time it takes your contact center agents to answer incoming calls.

ASA starts when a caller is in a queue and includes the time an agent’s phone is ringing. It excludes time spent routing a caller to a queue or when a customer interacts with your IVR (interactive voice response) menu.

The sooner your agents answer incoming calls, the better. Long wait times can make customers feel ignored, undervalued, and disrespected. By analyzing ASA, you can find ways to reduce wait times and improve customer service.

The industry standard for ASA is 28 seconds.

How to Measure Average Speed of Answer

You can calculate ASA by dividing the total wait time for answered calls in your contact center by the total number of answered calls.

This calculation is as follows:

ASA = Total wait time for answered calls/total number of answered calls

Say your agents answer 200 calls in a day (total number of answered calls), and the total wait time for that day is 4,000 seconds (total wait time for answered calls). Your ASA would be 20 seconds (4,000/200 = 20).

Many call center analytics tools automatically calculate ASA for you, making it easier to track this metric.

ASA isn’t a perfect measurement for agent performance. High call volumes—for example, during the holidays—often lead to higher wait times, inflating ASA at certain times of the year. System downtime, a lack of staff, and other factors can also impact this metric.

Benefits of Optimizing ASA

Tracking ASA identifies areas that need improvement in your customer journey. For example, a high ASA might be the result of a poorly configured IVR menu that annoys customers, leading to higher wait times.

Optimizing your ASA provides these benefits:

Improved customer satisfaction

Customers might become frustrated if they wait too long to speak with an agent. By improving your ASA, you can provide better service.

Reduced customer churn

The quicker agents answer incoming calls, the less likely customers will stop using your products and services. Optimizing ASA should retain more customers, resulting in increased sales.

Improved call center optimization

Enhancing ASA can make your contact center more productive. For instance, you can streamline call handling processes, lower call abandonment rates, and solve more customer queries.

Reduced operating costs

Removing the roadblocks that prevent agents from quickly answering calls might reduce costs in your contact center. For example, agents can answer more calls within a specific timeframe, avoiding the need for additional staff.

How to Improve ASA

Agent training, workflow management, and skill-based routing are just some of the ways to optimize ASA in your call center:

Skill-based routing

This call-routing strategy automatically assigns callers to agents with the right skills to answer their queries, meaning they spend less time in the regular queue. For example, you can send calls from Spanish-speaking customers directly to Spanish-speaking agents.

Proper IVR configuration

Configuring your IVR menu can reduce the time it takes for a customer to speak to an agent. Consider removing confusing menu options or decreasing the length of your greeting.

Agent training

Training agents to answer calls more quickly can improve ASA. You can teach agents how to wrap up calls faster, spend less time updating customer records, and escalate calls to supervisors if they can’t resolve a query.

Prioritize first-call resolution

Training agents to resolve customer queries on the first call can prevent repeat calls, freeing up your agents. That could lead to shorter wait times overall, improving ASA.

Identify benchmarks

Setting benchmarks for ASA might help you provide better customer service. Determine an acceptable timeframe for agents to answer calls and work toward that goal.

Track performance

Monitoring ASA over time with call analytics tools can identify further areas of improvement. For example, you could analyze historical ASA averages at different times of the year and bring in additional staff during high call volume periods.

Why ASA Matters

Average Speed of Answer is just one measurement for optimizing agent performance and customer satisfaction, but it’s an important one. By monitoring this metric, you can find ways to reduce call wait times and improve service levels.

Utlizing the right software tools can help improve your average speed of answer. You can also compare ASA with other call center metrics, such as Average Handle Time (AHT) and Call Abandonment Rate (CAR). Contact CallTools today for more information on software solutions for your contact center.

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