AHT (Average Handling Time) is one of the most important metrics in a call center. Simply put, a low AHT is one of the good signs that a call center is delivering great customer service.
That’s not in the least surprising. When customers call, they want solutions, and they want them fast.
Since it’s the goal of every call center organization to deliver a positive experience to customers, it only follows that you take the necessary steps to reduce the amount of time they spend on calls.
Here are proven strategies you can use to reduce average handling time in your contact center.
1. Strengthen your knowledge base
A strong knowledge base allows call center agents to pull up customer information and resolve issues with minimal effort.
When the knowledge base is optimized, agents can find relevant answers to even the toughest queries at their fingertips. This way, agents are able to close calls quickly, which in turn makes customers happy.
2. Record and analyze calls
A call center needs to have a system in place that records and analyzes calls. This makes it possible for you to identify which issues and questions are usually taking a long time to be resolved.
Once these issues are identified, you can come up with more efficient solutions to resolving them.
By training your agents to execute such solutions, average handling time can be reduced significantly.
3. Optimize call routing
One great way to reduce AHT is to optimize call routing. After all, a lot of time is wasted every time a caller is routed to the wrong department.
The best way to speed up your call center’s call routing system is to use a high-end automatic call distribution software (ACD).
When customers are always able to reach the agent qualified to handle their issues, it takes significantly less time to end a call.
4. Initiate call backs if necessary
Sometimes a customer will call in with an issue that is much too complex to be resolved immediately. Agents need to be able to identify such cases quickly since attempting to resolve the issue right then and there will only be a waste of time.
What agents can do instead is to initiate a call back at a time when answers and solutions to the customer’s issue are readily available.
5. Optimize the IVR system (Interactive Voice Response)
Recent studies show that more and more customers prefer self-service over having to speak with a customer service representative.
However, it can be frustrating to a caller when the IVR system eats up a lot of time promoting your brand’s wide range of products and services.
To optimize your IVR configuration effectively, you can start by structuring your IVR according to the customer’s perspective. Make your IVR scripts short and simple.
In addition, you can provide pre-recorded messages in a way where customers can help themselves better.
While it’s crucial for every call center organization to reduce AHT to meet KPI targets, care should be taken to ensure that the quality of service is not compromised in any way
A call center organization has to manage AHT the right way and for the right reasons, and you can pull that off by employing the five strategies mentioned above.