Call center glossary:  What is AHT?

Spoken | August 9, 2016

Part of our ongoing call center technology glossary series: what is AHT?

In the call center world, we love our three-letter acronyms. From ASA to NPS to AHT, most of our metrics can be neatly condensed into three letters. Today, let’s talk the first and most controversial call center metric: Average Handle Time.

Average Handle Time is a call center quality metric that indicates the average amount of time that one customer transaction takes. AHT is typically measured from the customer’s initial outreach to the call center and can include hold time, talk time and any other task related to the call. AHT is a primary factor used when determining if a call center is sufficiently staffed or not. The goal of every efficient call center is to minimize handle time. The challenge, however, is to reduce handle time without degrading the quality of the customer experience. After all, no one wants to feel rushed on a call, and if the customer has to call back a second time, all that neat efficiency would be lost. (Additionally, your First Call Resolution or FCR score would decrease, indicating a lack of efficiency.)

How to lower Average Handle Time

We found this nifty infographic that shows how to reduce AHT when training agents on call handling.

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Roadblocks to lowering Average Handle Time

That first infographic makes it sound easy to reduce the time spent on calls, doesn’t it? However, many call centers are challenged to reduce the time spent on each call. Following a survey, they gave these common reasons for those challenges:

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Interestingly, the number one roadblock to reducing AHT was a technological one: the existing systems are either slow or incompatible with some of the other systems used to service the call. So here is a question: is your Customer Relationship Management software, your Interactive Voice Response or the Computer-Telephony Integration between the call and the CRM blocking your ability to lower handle time?

If so, the good news is that there is an easy technological fix. While system updates and software switching tends to put the IT team in a tizzy, a transition to a newer, more agile system doesn’t have to result in headaches and outages. Take one of Spoken’s Smart IVR customers, Corporate Telecom Solutions, for example, who was amazed when they transitioned to our system without a single rollback nor a single customer complaint!

Skeptical? Download the case study and read for yourself!

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