How to Improve AHT in Call Centers
The importance of average handling time as a call center metric emphasizes the need for speed in this kind of environment. But what can you do to make sure you’re race ready? Well, there are a lot of things.
That includes everything from
• fine tuning your interactive voice response system for better front-end efficiency
• to providing more easy-to-use information and training to call center agents
• to reviewing and improving how they do things
• to expediting your wrap-up processes on the back end.
The IVR is frequently the first thing callers come in contact with in reaching out to your customer service center. So it is a great time to convey to callers any compliance-related information you need to share with them.
Your IVR is also a tool to get callers where they need to be. So be sure the menu your IVR presents to callers gives them the options they are most likely to need, and be sure the language you use to describe those options is clear and concise.
Once your call center has connected callers with agents, it’s important to present the agents with relevant information to help them address caller concerns in an efficient manner. Automatically serving up caller information and any other detail that might be helpful is a great way to expedite calls. Using artificial intelligence for faster population of online forms also hastens processes. And encourage agents to begin wrap-up activities during calls whenever possible.
In fact, laying out a blueprint for on-call and after-call workflows can also be extremely helpful. That way your organization can define and fine-tune its processes, and it can communicate them to its agents so they know exactly what to do – and what to do next.
That should be part of your agent training. And you can deliver that training during seminars, via one-to-one in-person sessions, and/or by providing materials online for use during set times or on demand as agent availability allows.
Remember that for best results, you need to train agents on an ongoing basis – not just after they are hired. Recording agent calls and screens can help you identify where agents are getting hung up, so you can suggest how to fix that. Look for silence during calls, which is often a sign that agents are stuck on a particular aspect of a call.
Pairing new and in-need-of-improvement agents with successful and experienced ones is sometimes a good idea. That way your best agents can demonstrate how they successfully wrap up calls and do so in record time. Sometimes seeing a solution or behavior at work is more impactful than simply providing direction.
But even before you get to training, you should be thinking about AHT. During agent recruitment, look for individuals who are exacting in how they communicate.
And, on the customer end, be proactive in heading off contact center calls by providing answers on your website to frequently asked questions, sending customers text alerts about things you anticipate will create questions, and review your marketing materials to ensure they’re clear on what you have to offer.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz