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8 Tricks For Reducing Average Handle Time in Your Contact Center

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The longer the average handle time for contact center communications, the fewer calls a contact center can handle, thereby increasing queue times and adding to customer frustration.

The average handle time is calculated by adding the total talk time, total hold time, and total wrap-up time – and then dividing by the number of calls handled. Reducing the talk time, hold time, and wrap-up time reduces the average handle time, which, in turn, increases a contact center’s ability to handle more calls with the same number of agents. Of equal importance is the impact to customer satisfaction that reducing handle time has.

The following 8 tricks can help contact center managers reduce the average handle time in their organizations:

Record calls.

By recording and listening to calls, managers can identify any issues that may be keeping agents from handling more calls. Recording calls, instead of just listening as calls happen, allows managers to analyze the calls at a time that is most convenient for them.

Train agents.

The only way agents can improve productivity is by becoming proficient with every contact center system in place. Agents should be well trained on how to use software to handle calls, chats, emails, and texts, and must know who to contact if they have any questions. Managers should use recorded agent calls to identify areas where agents may need more training and spend the appropriate amount of time with agents until they are up to speed.

Opt for shorter customer greetings.

Greetings should always be polite and helpful, but customers appreciate an agent who is able to get to the point and reduce the time spent talking. With CRM software, agents are able to quickly access customer data, including customer names, and greet the customer by their name. This saves the time that would otherwise be spent making introductions so the customer’s issues can be resolved quicker.

Use predictive analytics-driven call routing.

Analytics-driven call routing allows customers to quickly reach the agent who is most qualified to handle the customer’s issue. By avoiding transfers between multiple agents, contact centers are able to reduce total talk time and ultimately average handle time.

Use auto-attendants and voice self-service

While there are times when customers need to communicate with an agent, there are other times when customers can easily help themselves. Offering customers the ability to help themselves frees up agent time to handle more complex matters, and reduces average handle times.

Categorize call types.

Customers communicate with contact centers for a number of reasons. Customers may wish to make a payment, which should not take long, while other customers may have a complaint, which can take a while to resolve. Agents should not be penalized for spending additional time with an upset customer, so when evaluating average handle time, managers should recognize that some interactions can and should take longer than others.

Match the right agents for communications.

Each agent has a unique skill set, and managers should do everything they can to ensure that a customer is reaching the right agent for their issue. This reduces transfer times and the average handle time. Managers can also task exceptional agents to train other agents on how to quickly help customers, thereby reducing the average handle time.

Implement the right technology.

A contact center can only be as efficient as the software it uses. Managers should implement software that allows agents to thoroughly and efficiently handle customer issues to reduce the average handle time, increase customer satisfaction and improve contact center performance overall.

By recording calls, training agents, shortening greetings, using call routing and voice self-service, categorizing call types, matching customers to agents, and implementing the right technology, contact center managers can increase productivity while decreasing average handle times.

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