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AHT: How to Reduce Average Handling Time in Call center -10 Easy Tips

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Imran is an anthropologist, communications manager, and trainer who coaches people in self-improvement.

Quicker the Better!

Call center job even though considered as casual still is not an easy task. It singularly tests your patience while the customer remains the most impatient. Showing spontaneity along with the supply of correct information is the underlying highlight of the job. The best call is the one that has 'resolution on call' itself. In the whole process, time is the most valuable factor. The quicker you are, the better is the result for you and the customers and your company. You need to do all this by maintaining your AHT (average handling time). That's the main reason why you have to be quick. Long calls impact the AHT negatively; your poor call-taking skills (your inefficiency to be fast) should certainly not be the reason for the negative impact. During all this, you learn to manage moods of the callers on the product related problems they face.
A point to wonder is, do you resolve issues or handle moods?
For, If you don't settle an issue, the mood will only get worse which unnecessarily extends your AHT (average handling time).
On the other hand, If you are able to fix problems quickly, your call handling time remains under control and so does your performance along with everything at work.

You handle a lot many calls a day, but do you resolve them quickly or take time because of obstacles? Both the cases require you to put efforts in your tasks. I entirely understand how tiring that must be. I mean, it's not physically strenuous, but it takes a toll on your mind, which passes on to your body. You also get frustrated, specifically because your callers make you go through different sets of emotions ( anger, irritation, pressure, frustration, stress, etc).

Hence, the key to achieving success is to resolve an issue as instantly as possible.

Here are some effective methods for quick call taking.


How to Reduce/Improve AHT

  • 1) know your standard call drivers

The very first thing you must start with is knowing what type of calls the process of your contact center continuously gets. When you know much about a certain query, during a call, you will optimize your time by taking the right actions on the account. That will speed up results, won't it?

  • 2) know everything about the call drivers

Once you have learned what type of calls you will mostly face, update yourself with every minute details (process knowledge) related to the calls type.That way, you won't have to put calls on hold and prolong the duration of them. Besides, you will answer confidently, which is what all customers should believe.

  • 3) keep all the tabs ready

Many times you need to refer to the tools that give specific and detailed information. You must have them ready in the tabs that you can switch to from your main screen. If you decide to handle it call-wise, you will take extra time in accessing those tools and then referring to the information.
Meanwhile, you will:

  • Exchange an irrelevant conversation with a customer, or
  • Fumble on the call, or
  • May sound desperate, confused, unsure, or
  • Put the call on hold, or
  • Give dead air on the call.

Ineptly, these do nothing but extend the call longer. Besides, they also affect your average handling time (AHT).

Useful suggestion

Be quick. such calls are information calls, not issue calls. So don't make one.

Remember, before getting to you, the callers have already gone through the annoying automated system - The IVR (interactive voice response.) You taking extra time will only make the experience bitter.

  • 4) keep departments information ready

There are times when you need to refer to the information and details of the other departments that can guide customers further. Keep them handy too. The caller is already unhappy that he has to check with the other departments, you delaying the call can only make him annoyed.

  • 5) Don't talk much

The customer has dialed customer services, not a friend for an informal chat. Don't engage in pleasantries when you don't mean it. Any additional time you spend on calls means you are not quick.

  • 6) know technical glitches

If a query is a regular one, you solve it swiftly, but even the general inquiries take time when affected by technical glitches. Customers often call and complain of a sudden dysfunction. Keep in mind of all the outages that might have caused the problem.

Useful suggestion

At the start of the day, you get briefings and updates on glitches of your process. It's always better to know the glitches of the other departments you closely work with. Mainly the technical units. Their briefings and updates are different than yours. There is a chance your process has not been updated about a glitch of their process. If you are aware of it, you will be able to assist the callers in a better way.

  • 7) Do not verify on generic issues

When a caller has a general query, answer as fast as you can. The question is not affecting any customer's account, so why go through further verification? Keep it short and useful.

  • 8) Be specific

Be specific to what has been asked. Giving more information can create confusion. As a result, the customer might have new doubts he would want clarification on. That will only use more time of yours and the customer. Answer questions volunteered by the caller. It should not be that you put those questions in the caller's mouth.

  • 9) Multi-task

I am sure you know what multi-tasking is, so what I will highlight is the most important parts of it. Please refer below.

  • listening to the Inquirer.
  • talking to the caller.
  • Searching the right information as you talk.
  • Making changes on the account.
  • Typing - updating notes.
  • Putting a call on hold when seeking a particular information or doing an action requires much focus.

If you are slow in actions, develop a habit to multi-task. With efforts and concentration, you will be able to achieve it in the long run. Being active and quick is a good signal, whereas being dull and slow is a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle.

  • 10) Ask a manager to stand by you

When you know it's going to take time to solve a problem, ask for help from any supervisor, mentor, team coach, or the team leader who is free. Two minds simultaneously working on an issue quickens the resolving process.

Would your supervisor/manager help you solve the matter on the call itself?

See results

Implement what you learnt in training

Below is the reiteration of some points that you have already been trained on to give quick resolution:

  • Don't put calls on hold unnecessarily.
  • Do not argue with the callers even if they are wrong.
  • Maintain a good pace so that inquirers understand you at once.
  • If you don't know ask someone knowledgeable.
  • When you are not sure about a process, reinforce training on self.
  • When you learn something new, pass it to others so that the overall team together becomes quick on calls.
  • Don't let your customer service skills fail in resolving the customer issues.

Do not be casual in following these points. They are truly useful. Implement these and become better.

You are a Pro

In short, anything that can delay your quickness is not what you will practice! Following the above mentioned methods and tips, will help you make your average handling time (AHT) perfect. You will get more confident and gain the trust of the customers. Your call handling will neither be a waste of your time nor of your caller's or your company's. You will achieve high scores on quality and customer surveys. Your performance will get an upward growth, and the KPI's (key performance indicator) will give you good incentives. You will become a role model, and others will seek advice from you. That's what makes a good contact center agent.

© 2017 Imran Khan


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    • pen promulgates profile image

      Imran Khan 2 months ago from Mumbai, India

      I am glad you liked it!

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      Sarah 2 months ago

      Very helpul thanks!