Should you remove AHT as a performance metric?

Should you remove AHT as a performance metric?

Faith Ocampo Published on June 27, 2016

surprised-call-center-agent-with-wall-clock

Is average handle time still relevant now that more and more customers expect personalized services?

Many call centers have always included average handle time (AHT) in their primary metrics when determining their agents’ productivity and performance. As a call center metric, it refers to the average duration of a transaction, starting from the moment an agent accepts a call. It includes the hold and talk time as well as other administrative tasks related to a single interaction.

Measuring AHT is useful from a management perspective. It helps leaders track how many customers are being accommodated, allowing them to estimate the number of agents they need.

Although it directly influences staffing and workforce management decisions, however, AHT is a burden for many call center agents. When performance measurement and employee rewards are determined by the duration of calls, the customer experience is compromised.

Why is measuring AHT counterproductive?

problematic-call-center-agent-removing-eye-glasses

Agents aiming to cut transactions short don’t exert the effort needed to really help customers. This means that although the immediate concerns are addressed, many callers are still left confused and dissatisfied. Thus, you’ll get repeat calls from those who aren’t happy with your services.

So call centers must not create a speed-focused culture. When managers incentivize their reps according to speed, they practically position the agents’ goals against the customers’ interests. Instead of encouraging agents to be customer-centric, you’re actually forcing them to focus on their own individual targets as employees. What happens is that even though agents want to enhance customer support, their actions will be limited by the policies imposed by the company. This disheartens the agents who can otherwise resolve issues efficiently.

All in all, this results in poor customer experience. If you’re focusing on the wrong performance metric, you’ll sacrifice the quality of the customer service you deliver.

Is AHT irrelevant?

Measuring AHT lets managers anticipate their staffing needs. However, what it won’t let you do is distinguish between the simple and the complicated transactions.

There are instances wherein AHT is applicable as a call center metric. Typically, these are transactions with straightforward solutions. Some of these are:

•     queries about your latest promos;
•     follow-ups on ongoing transactions; and
•     updates on customer information.

More importantly, however, you must also know when AHT must not be measured. Intricate issues that require a high level of involvement naturally take a longer resolution time. If an agent rushes through these types of transactions, they compromise customer satisfaction. Examples are:

•     technical product problems;
•     financial transactions that involve sensitive information;
•     complaints that require verification and investigation; and
•     issues that must be escalated to managers.

In these situations, AHT becomes irrelevant. It becomes an unfair performance measurement standard for agents who take their time to walk customers through complicated issues.

Alternatives to AHT

While AHT is still an important performance metric that managers must keep tabs of, perhaps it shouldn’t be the primary measure of call center productivity, especially now that customers want personalized services. As an alternative to AHT, you may consider first-call resolution as a more customer-focused metric, since it’s much more closely tied to customer satisfaction. You may also collect customer feedback in order to understand how people view your company. That way, the enhancements you’ll be making are aligned with the preferences of your target market.

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.

Leave a Reply

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO1 hour ago
It's been reported that strong workplace cultures prompted 4x increase in revenue growth and annual returns in many companies.

What's your partner #CallCenter's culture and how can you tweak it to drive up #productivity and #EmployeeEngagement? | https://buff.ly/39AYYbg

----------
Grow with an #outsourcing firm that thrives in its diverse work culture. Grow with us: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO1 day ago
Measuring and improving on your customer effort score must be one of the main priorities of managers and #CustomerSupport providers. | https://buff.ly/39XPKG7

----------
Nip #CustomerChurn in the bud and ensure #BrandLoyalty with seamless 24/7 multilingual support: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO2 days ago
Build a #mobile #CustomerService strategy that works. You'll know your mobile strategy works if you've achieved these key features: https://buff.ly/3sDYLdS

----------
Contact us today For #multichannel #CustomerSupport that works: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO3 days ago
#CallCenters must understand their customers' unique communication styles so they can assist them more effectively. Here are 4 typical communication patterns among customers and some tips on how to handle them: https://buff.ly/39w7ybm

----------
Open Access BPO knows your customers. For proactive #CustomerSupport, contact us: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
#CustomerService
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO3 days ago
#CallCenter leaders play a central role in helping campaigns grow. Team leaders especially are responsible for the progress and the quality of service that #CustomerSupport agents provide the brand's customers.

Here are the 5 biggest enemies of great leadership (and a few tips on how to be a good leader): https://buff.ly/3M5iMC0

Find great call center agents and team leaders to manage your brand's growth when you partner with Open Access BPO: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
Open Access BPO
Open Access BPO4 days ago
Personalized solutions empower brands to provide high-quality support to their customers and their growing needs.
With the help of a capable #CallCenter, you can be sure these areas are being covered: https://buff.ly/3sCjnTS

----------
Build your hyper-customizable #CustomerSupport, #BackOffice, or knowledge-based support program with Open Access BPO: OpenAccessBPO.com/get-started

#WeSpeakYourLanguage
#CustomerSupport
Open Access BPO