How Average Handle Time Is Hurting Your Customer Service Efforts

What Role Does Speed Play in Providing Good Customer Service?

For anyone who has ever worked in or managed a customer service team over recent years, the term “AHT” or “average handle time” is a familiar one. Average handle time is the name of a measuring metric that determines the duration of a customer service call including any talk time, necessary administrative tasks of follow-up time, and hold time that pertains to that particular call and then divided by the total number of calls.

Though this measurement can be a helpful tool in assisting managers to see how many hours their staff members are working and in helping to plan shifts and so forth, it shouldn’t be used as the end-all-be-all measurement for gauging the effectiveness of a call. In fact, here are 3 reasons why call metric time is actually not the best measurement in deciding the effectiveness of a customer service call:

A Dissatisfied Customer

Very simply put, when the main focus of a customer service call is achieving a speedy AHT, reps are motivated by little else than ending the call as quickly as possible. This can have some obvious negative effects. Customers who are served by customer service agents who are looking to get through a call as quickly as possible will end up feeling like little more than a nuisance, their problems are likely to not be fully addressed, and the customer may very likely end up having to call back anyway to seek further resolution. This is no way to treat a valued customer and their dissatisfaction will play out in more ways than one in the long run.

Encourages Reps vs. Customers

When a customer service rep is pushed for time on each call as their main motivation and a customer doesn’t care how long it takes the rep as long as their problem is solved, this doesn’t exactly encourage them to work together in problem solving and achieving good service and satisfaction for both. A customer service representative should be focused first on the customer and assisting them accordingly before they concern themselves with the speed of that service.

The Demoralization of Determined Reps

If you’ve done your first step as a good manager by hiring conscientious and responsible customer service reps, why hinder their natural abilities to serve effectively by reducing their job to how quickly they perform it? It can be very discouraging to well-intentioned customer service reps who want to resolve customer issues effectively by focusing mainly on the speed of each call.

If you’re going to incorporate AHT into your call center, use it as one tool among many for measuring customer service effectiveness. You may want to regularly ask yourself, “How can I help to reduce handle time without making the customer or my agents suffer as a result?”

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