Customers dislike talking on phones as it is thanks to the evolution of smart phones and text messages. What makes customers dislike call centers even more is having to spend more time on the phone than necessary. For call centers, this is known as the handle time.

The definition of Average Handle Time (AHT) is: a call center metric for the average duration of one duration. (source)

The goal of AHT is to be as low as possible while providing the best call center experience. Here are X ways AHT can be reduced in your call center.

1. Record Every Single Call

The more information on calls you have the better. With complete data, you can look into outliers and see why a call took three times longer than usual. Was it a once off? You can also pick the top 10% of calls that take the longest and see if there are any bottlenecks to be addressed.

2. Ongoing Training

Call center dynamics are always changing as new technology is introduced. Agents need to have a firm grasp on the new technology to ensure they reduce average handle time by picking up the phone right away and knowing who to escalate any calls too. If you record every call as described above, you’ll also be able to use their calls to help them develop their skills by learning what the do and do not do well.

3. Gather All The Information At The Start Of The Call

Getting data and information that is relevant to this specific call at the start of a conversation will ensure you are ready to resolve any situation right away rather than getting new information towards the end of the call.

4. Hire Agents Who Are Concise

When you are on boarding new members to your call center, look for those who speak concisely. They will ask good questions and get straight to the point with their answers.

5. Identify Extended Times Of Silence

During calls, the talk should be fairly consistent. If there are minutes going by with silence on both ends of the call, identify why this is. Are they looking for a solution? Updating the system? Asking coworkers what to do? Waiting for the computer to load?

6. Team Up Low AHT agents with High AHT agents

Different people learn in different ways. If you have a high AHT agent, you could have them sit with a low AHT agent for a few hours. They can chat away and the high AHT will learn a few tips by listening in on their calls.

7. Promote Website and Text Messaging Services

If there is a power cut somewhere, you can guarantee lots of people will call in to let the power company know about it and want information. If you can divert them away from calling in by using updates in other ways, you can reduce the time people wait on hold in busy periods.

Call centers are a dynamic workplace. This is the first segment on ways you can help reduce the AHT for your team. Check back shortly for part two.

*Featured image by howardlake via Flikr