When it comes to finding ways to make your contact center more productive and efficient, few things have a bigger impact than the AHT - or average handling time - of your interactions with consumers. Whether you are making calls or accepting them, the length of time you spend with each client or customer on the phone and directly before and after can majorly impact many other metrics - as well as influence the overall success of your facility in delivering a great customer experience.
Here, we’ll ‘hand’ you a list of tips to help you with reducing handling time. Some of them might surprise you - but perhaps not as much as their potential impact will!
Getting Started: Resolve to Continually Learn and Grow
Before you can hope to reduce handling times, you should first commit to doing so as part of the process of continual growth and improvement for your center. An important step in this process is choosing a recording solution and committing to its use.
We’ve all called a contact center and heard the automated message at the beginning of our call alerting us that a call may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. Be that center. Record those calls and use them to your advantage. You have free training materials at your disposal in the form of the calls your agents are engaging in every day that can also be used to evaluate where cuts could be made to improve AHT. Utilize this resource and commit to the ongoing improvement of your center.
Next: Streamline Your Everyday Operations
Streamlining your everyday operations is the task that most people think of when they think of speeding up their average handling time. After all, there is only so much that can be done to shorten phone calls, especially when you’re delivering excellent customer service. When you want to make major cuts to the overall time you’re spending per engagement, the best places to start are before and after the conversation takes place.
Look for ways to offer self-service options to your consumer. Look for dialersor call directories that make connecting agents and consumers fast, efficient, and effortless. The less your consumer has to do and the less time they have to spend doing it, the more satisfied they’re going to be - and the lower your AHT will be, too.
Take It Up a Notch: Train Toward Your Goals
One unexpected tip for trimming your call times is properly educating your employees on the many ways to handle their calls correctly. A common obstacle to lower AHT is when something out of the ordinary happens and an agent isn’t sure how to handle it. Likewise, some agents may not be suitably knowledgeable to handle the wide range of consumer questions, concerns, or complaints that your facility may field on an average day.
These are both issues that can be addressed through training. Focusing on building employee knowledge and preparing for success during training will help your employees provide an excellent customer experience every time they’re connected to a consumer - and keep those connections as brief as possible, too.
Ensure Success: Shorten Dialogue Without Sacrificing Experience
While you work toward reducing handling time, it is important to remember that this should never mean sacrificing customer satisfaction or experience. Shorter calls can be a problem, but they can also be better calls if you know how to trim unnecessary seconds from them.
Begin by assessing your consumer or client greeting. How do your agents open conversations with those they speak to? While you want to ensure a polite and friendly tone, too much chattiness can be a major problem for reducing handling time. Look for ways to keep conversation brief and to-the-point while still maintaining the friendliness that your center is known for.
Turn to Technology
To speed up operations in your center, you need robust, hardworking technology that keeps pace with your agents’ demands. This doesn’t just include your IVR system. This includes everything your agents use, every day. Provide them with the tools and technology they need to succeed - rather than outdated or poorly functioning equipment and software - and they will return the favor by keeping AHT down.
Mind Your Metrics
Your FCR - or first call resolution - is an important consideration when you’re looking to reduce your handling time. While it may take a few additional seconds or minutes to handle an issue during the first connection made with a consumer, that first call resolution will almost certainly prevent them from having to make a second or subsequent call. This dramatically reduces overall handling time metrics while improving consumer satisfaction and customer experience - a small sacrifice of time now to make a major impact on multiple metrics later!
The Big Benefits of Reducing Handling Time
Now that you know all these ways to get a ‘handle’ on reducing handling time, you might be wondering if the effort is really worth it. If you are interested in the following benefits for your facility, the answer is yes:
- More satisfied customers.
- More closed deals or positive purchasing decisions made by clients.
- More resolved concerns, questions, or complaints.
- Agents with more experience due to larger volume of calls taken per day.
- Agents suffering from less burnout and exhaustion due to shorter conversations and mental engagement with each consumer or client.
- Higher satisfaction ratings, and so much more.
When you’re ready to find the tools and technology your facility needs for reducing handling time and ramping up consumer satisfaction, contact the industry experts at ChaseData. We have everything you need to streamline your daily operations and deliver shorter yet better calls that create a more satisfying experience for everyone involved. Give us a call today to learn more!