Guide to shortening your Average Handling Time without compromising on quality

As customer support agents, we are constantly faced with the pressure of delivering great services to our customers in record time. Being a support agent means befriending data and metrics as these are crucial in measuring and determining how good an agent is, how well he/she handled the customer, how effectively the resolution was achieved etc. It must seem like being obsessed with data goes hand in hand with keeping customers happy and satisfied. That stands to be true because ‘data’ helps agents do a better job by improving performance, productivity and customer experience. 

Source: Call Centre Helper 

How is AHT linked with CX?
According to a study conducted by ICMI, 82% of consumers mentioned that one of the biggest factors that contributed towards a great customer service experience was getting their issues resolved quickly. 

Minimal hold time, no blocked calls, efficient resolutions, minimized follow-ups etc, are signs that agents are within the applicable AHT levels; indicating that the calls are running smoothly. But that does not mean that an agent should aim to lower their Average Handling Time by providing mediocre solutions or services simply to get the caller off the phone. Doing this would surely harm CX and lower CSAT and NPS scores further resulting in a loss for the brand as well. AHT must be lowered with the view of handling and solving issues as efficiently as possible so that you can work with more customers. The understanding here is simple, the more customers you work with, the more problems you can solve. The more efficiently you solve these problems, the happier and satisfied your callers will be, thereby positively impacting their customer experience.

5 tips to improve AHT while continuing to provide high-quality customer support service. 

Tip #1 Make sure to incorporate the ‘Acknowledge, Answer, Ask’ method 

Source: Call Centre Helper 

According to Call Centre Helper, an effective way of reducing AHT or average handling time is by recommending agents to use the ‘Acknowledge, Answer, Ask’ strategy. By keenly listening to what the customer is saying, you are acknowledging their statement thereby indicating understanding. By directly, positively and smartly answering the questions posed by the customer; you can logically drive the call forward by asking relevant questions that bring the customer issue closer to resolution. This approach is considered by the experts to be customer-centric and systematic which will help in improving customer satisfaction ergo your AHT.

Tip #2 Reduce your dependability on scripts

Source: g2 

As a support agent, your primary aim is to resolve each customer query upon the first contact itself. Therefore it is important to concentrate on the customer rather than looking to see how your script can be of help. Use your script as a guide, not as the answer sheet to every query posed by your customer. By actively listening to your caller, you can make quick and informed decisions that will bring the case closer to resolution.

Tip #3 Instead of customer talk time, cut down on ACW or After Call Work 
Appropriate prioritization will help you see that in order to improve your AHT; it makes more sense to reduce after-call work than cutting down on your talk time with the customer. Your customers will notice the difference when they are being shown undivided attention versus when there is a rush to keep the phone down. While the latter is dangerous and proven to negatively impact CX; you can make sure to speed your post-call work so that it doesn’t harm the quality of your customer service.  

Tip #4 Know the product you are supporting

Source: Quote Master

To be a successful support agent, you need to know and understand the product you are supporting and dealing with. Make sure to constantly stay updated with any new functionalities or changes that your product undergoes. 

Source: Sumo Scheduler

By keeping up with the latest features, personality, functionalities etc of your product or service, you will be able to handle support queries and tickets in record time. By regularly attending training sessions or demos you will notice that you can implement your learnings from there to improve your resolution time while not sacrificing the quality of your service.

Tip #5 Ensure an open line of communication with supervisors and team leaders 
Make communication key while interacting with your supervisors. Be open about system improvements that could be made or technical questions you may have etc. By openly speaking up about matters that concern your job productivity and performance, you are taking steps towards identifying your strengths and weaknesses and building towards getting better at your job. 

To sum it up: 
At VOIZ we make sure that support agents are trained and professionally equipped to handle and deliver a fast yet seamless customer experience that is executed to generate happy customers. 

Sign up with us today to become an active part of the customer service experience that will help you grow professionally while also being able to deliver engaging conversations, productive interactions and assured profitability for your brand.

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