8 Tips for Reducing Call Handling Times

For contact centers, average handle time (AHT) is one of the most important measurable metrics.

This measurement determines the average amount of time a contact center agent maintains contact with a customer. When properly analyzed, AHT can provide valuable insights into the efficiency and overall productivity of agents as well as a customer’s likely satisfaction rating.

While AHT includes time spent on hold, it excludes queue and ring times. When contact center agents are trained to handle every call as efficiently as possible, they can reduce the AHT and help the contact center as a whole become more efficient. This is easier said than done, however, and many contact center managers have a difficult time determining how to reduce AHT. Fortunately, there are several steps contact centers can take toward reducing their AHT and making the center more efficient and cost-effective.
8 Tips to Reduce AHT

1) Properly train agents
A contact center manager who wants to reduce AHT should begin by training all contact center agents in using contact center software and tools, CRM and chat included, to ensure quick answer times and high customer satisfaction ratings. Additionally, each agent should have access to an updated list of people they can contact in the event of questions or concerns.

2) Record all calls
When a contact center records its calls, it is much easier for contact center managers to accurately assess agent performance and identify weak areas in need of improvement. Additionally, recorded calls allow contact centers to revisit past issues that were handled poorly and to provide important training materials to new recruits.

3) Remove inefficiencies
One of the largest challenges contact center agents face is the presence of inefficiencies such as a lack of automation. These inefficiencies combine to add up to large increases in AHT and by seeking to identify and remove these inefficiencies, managers can greatly increase output and decrease handling time of each call.

4) Shorten greetings
While it may sound simple, changing each agent’s customer greeting can go a long way toward getting calls processed in a timelier fashion. When agents are trained to open with a “How can I help you today?” question versus a “How are you?” question, it encourages customers to jump right to the heart of their issue, decreasing small-talk time and increasing time spent on problem-solving and customer resolution.

5) Improve routing software
AHT is dramatically decreased if each call is answered by the most competent, experienced agent valuable. Systems like ACD, IVR systems, and skill-based routing software can ensure that each customer is paired with the best agent available at that moment. This cuts down on call time and ensures higher levels of customer satisfaction.

6) Create answer sheets
In order to ensure that agents always have access to correct answers and responses, managers should create a center-wide answer sheet that provides accurate information for many of the customer’s most frequently asked questions. These answer sheets should be accessible to all agents and updated often. This saves agents from answering questions incorrectly and offers a platform for quick consultation and more effective customer service.

7) Characterize calls by types
When evaluating AHT, managers can easily come up with an inaccurate number if calls aren’t characterized by type. A payment or billing call will not have an AHT that is the same as a complaint call and, as such, each call needs to be characterized according to its type. This will provide an accurate representation of AHT and illustrate the areas in which an agent needs to improve.

8) Use intelligent technology
IVRs and auto-attendant software can help reduce AHT by offering the option for customers to access certain information on their own, without being routed to an agent. If the customer needs to be routed to an agent, however, the system can do it, which saves time and increases satisfaction in customers.

Conclusion
For a contact center, agent and customer experience is the paramount measurement of success, but it’s impossible to achieve high ratings in either of these areas without seeking to reduce AHT and improve satisfaction. Fortunately, these 8 intuitive tips can ensure that contact centers are doing everything possible to produce higher levels of satisfaction and to route around issues before they appear.

Source : http://www.spicecsm.com/blog/8-tips-for-reducing-call-handling-times

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