GoResponse Telephone Answering Service Staff

Call centres advised to stop AHT obsession

Average Handling Time (AHT) has been a commonly used call centre metric for many years because it can be good indicator of just how much time agents are spending on the phone with each consumer. However, although it can be worthwhile to try to reduce AHT, focusing too much on this goal can compromise customer service quality and bring about negative effects within any telephone answering services.

To this end, many companies are trying to eradicate AHT. However, there seems to be some difficulty getting rid of the metric despite increased evidence it can damage call centre performance.

Industry expert Christine Stubbs said: “The agent’s responsibility is to give good first contact resolution to the customer. The scheduling pressure doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to the real-time analyst. If the forecast team has got the forecast wrong and there are huge queues, why would you want to disturb the customer experience by letting agents know? It’s not their fault, and they’re in control of that.”

Despite the warning, many call centres are still hanging on to AHT, with a poll showing that 47 per cent of companies still use the metric to target agents. In many cases, contact centres are still seen as a call handling facility rather than a business that provides customer services. In an effort to change this, companies need to adapt from simply handling complaints to leading the fore of consumer care. By doing this, outdated metrics like AHT that have the potential to bring negative effects will be more easily ousted and replaced with better practices.

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