Ten Simple Ways to Improve Average Handling Time (AHT) in a Call Centre
Quicker the Better
Professional calls must be brief and accurate. While on calls, you are not talking to a friend or relative to get chatty and casual. As a call center agent, you represent a company and its brand. Therefore, you must be ready, sharp-witted, active, succinct, and resolving. Your call must be to the point. That's what AHT means and is set as a parameter to accomplish.
The role of a contact center agent is tough and challenging. It tests the efficiency and patience of the advisors while customers show little to no cooperation, and are eager for solutions.
Showing swiftness and giving correct information is an integral part of the job. The best call is the one that gives 'resolution on call' itself. In the entire process, time is a crucial element. The quicker an advisor is, the better is the result for him/her, and the customers as well as the company.
Customer service representatives must brightly manage their roles by maintaining a low AHT (average handling time.) Long calls impact the AHT negatively. Poor call-taking skills, therefore, should not be the reason for a dull performance. In the whole procedure, agents face different moods of the callers on the product related problems.
A point to surmise is, do the advisors handle customers or their moods?
If an issue goes unresolved, the customer's mood worsens which unnecessarily extends the AHT. But, when the advisor is efficient, his call handling time remains under control and so does his performance and profile.
Hence, the key to achieving success is to resolve issues expeditiously.
Below are some effective methods for satisfactory results.
How to Improve/Reduce AHT
- 1) Know the regular call flow:
It is extremely essential to know what types of calls the process of your call centre receives non-stop. When you have complete information on a certain query, on the call itself you will optimize your time by following the right protocol and taking the correct actions on the account. That will end a call fast.
- 2) Be comprehensive about the standard call drivers:
Once you have understood what types of calls you will mostly face, update yourself with details (process knowledge) related to the calls type. That way, you won't have to unnecessarily put calls on hold and prolong the duration of them. Besides, you will answer confidently which is what all customers highly look for in resolutions.
- 3) Keep all the portals ready:
Frequently you need to check and refer to the tools that give specific and detailed information. Keep them ready under accessible and separate tabs that you can switch to from your main screen. If you decide to open tabs call-wise, you will take extra time in accessing those tools. Meanwhile, you will:
- Strike an irrelevant conversation with a customer
- Stammer on the call
- May sound baffled and unsure
- Give long silence (dead air)
Sadly, these do nothing but increase the length of a call and affect your AHT.
Mostly, 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.) Your taking extra time will only make the experience bitter.
- 4) keep handy the crucial details of the other departments:
There are times when you need to refer to information and details of the other departments that will guide customers further. Keep them handy too. The caller is already unhappy that he has to check with another department. Any delay will only aggravate his irritation.
- 5) Don't confabulate:
The customer has dialed customer services and not a friend for confabulation. Don't engage in pleasantries when you don't mean it. Irrelevant minutes spent on calls mean you are wasting time.
- 6) Be aware of outages, glitches, and technical faults:
If a query is a regular one, you will solve it swiftly. But even general inquiries complicate when affected by technical glitches. When customers call and complain of a sudden dysfunction, keep in mind all the faults and outages that might have caused the problem.
A Useful Tip
At the start of the day, equip yourself with briefings and updates on irregular matters and ongoing issues, and glitches of your process.
Learn the glitches of the other departments you closely work with - Mainly the technical units. Their briefings are different than your briefings. There is a chance your process has not been updated about a glitch of theirs.
If you are aware of it, your call duration will shorten and you will be able to assist the callers in a better way.
- 7) General issues vs account-related issues:
If a caller has a general query, save time on verification and finish the call early. When a question is not affecting a customer's account, don't complicate the matter.
Examples: Queries on working hours, standard rates and charges, company's address and contact details, etc are generic in nature. Deal with them accordingly. Keep the call short and simple.
Give the account-related information after verification.
- 8) Be Succinct and to the point:
Be specific to what has been asked. Giving unrequired information will create confusion.
As a result, the customer might have new doubts. That will spoil more time of the customer and yours.
Answer questions initiated by the caller. It should not be that you have led the callers to ask those questions.
- 9) Be a Multi-tasker:
Skillful multi-tasking includes :
- Listening completely, and not selectively.
- Understanding clearly, and talking professionally to the inquirer.
- Searching for the right information while talking.
- Making changes on the account.
- Typing - updating notes.
If you are slow, develop a habit to multi-task. With efforts and concentration, you will be able to achieve it in the long run.
Tip: On tough matters that requires your undivided attention, it is better to put a call on hold and search for the information.
- 10) Seek help:
When you know a query will be time-consuming, ask for additional help from colleagues, superiors, and subordinates. Two minds working simultaneously on an issue quickens the resolving process.
Do Not Forget The Basics
Below is the reiteration of some basic points that save AHT.
- Refrain from putting calls on hold every now and then.
- Do not quarrel and argue with the customers even if they are wrong.
- Maintain your pace so that inquirers understand you at once.
- When you are not sure about any process, reinforce training on self.
- When you come across updated or new information or an uncommon issue, pass it to others so that the overall team saves handling time on the calls.
Be strict in following the above points. They are truly useful.
Become a champion
Following the above mentioned methods will help you accomplish the target on the average handling time (AHT). You will become more confident in dealing with the customers. Your call handling will become smooth and error-free. 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 render good incentives. You will become a role model and a team player. That's what makes a good contact center agent.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Imran khan