What's the meaning of AHT in my contact center?

What’s the Meaning of AHT and How Can I Improve It?

Almost 70% of customers judge the quality of their service on how fast they can get to a resolution.

When your agents stall during a conversation to go dig for relevant information or search for customer history, it prolongs your customers’ resolutions and costs your contact center more money. That’s why AHT, or Average Handle Time, has become one of the top metrics for contact center leaders today. 

What’s the Meaning of AHT in my Contact Center?

Average Handle Time (AHT) is an efficiency metric that measures how long your agents spend on the typical customer interaction.

It follows a simple formula:

Plug AHT into this equation to find out its meaning in your call center

Contact centers usually measure handle times for different channels separately. How long your agents spend on the average phone call looks way different than how long agents might spend handling chat messages.  

Use this metric to see where your agents could benefit from new resources, training or improved processes to speed up conversations that drag on, no matter how your customers reach out.

Why Should I Measure AHT?

Understanding how long it takes your agents to help the average customer through an interaction gives you reliable efficiency data for your contact center. Your handle times help you forecast and predict staffing needs so you can keep service levels high and gauge your FTE costs.

Plus, you can boil AHT down beyond its meaning in your overall contact center performance to look at the performance of your individual agents, too. You can pinpoint which agents need help, which ones run an efficiency powerhouse, and which ones (unnecessarily) sprint through customer conversations.

How Can I Improve AHT in My Call Center?

1. Set clear goals for your handle times.

Clear KPIs lead to better performance at work. Set goals and performance expectations for your team, so they know what AHT to target. Get specific so every agent understands the meaning of AHT, how you measure it, and which of their interactions (whether phone, chat, SMS, or email) you lump into the calculation.

2. Show agents their progress toward goals.

When you share real-time metrics and progress with your team, your agents understand how every interaction impacts your contact center goals.

Create agent-specific dashboards with three core metrics for your agents to improve. In this case, put AHT on the list. Surface AHT (and the other two metrics) to your agents right in their personal dashboards.

​​Performance Tiles

(Pssssssst. Sharpen Performance Tiles can show every agent how they’re performing against their AHT goal – and their peers – in real-time.)

3. Identify pain points in your customer (and agent) experience.

Get a 360-degree view of your customer journey to learn where service breakdowns exist (so you can fix them). Listen to call recordings, read through transcriptions, and talk to your agents to learn what’s happening with your customers.

4. Fix the pain points in your customer (and agent) experience.

Use automation and intelligent routing tools to cut inefficiencies from your agents’ simple tasks, so they can dedicate more of their coveted minutes to human interactions. Leave contextual feedback and training on your agents’ interactions, pointing out where they need to pick up the pace. Add more self-help resources for your customers. Stock your knowledge base with scripts. Be the ultimate resource to help your team improve AHT (and all their other metrics, too).

>> Learn More: Put real-time AHT data front and center on every agent’s dashboard