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Average Handling Time (AHT)

What is average handling time (AHT)?

Average Handle Time (AHT), a paramount metric in the realm of contact centres and customer service operations, provides a comprehensive overview of the efficiency and effectiveness of customer interactions.

AHT serves as a key performance indicator (KPI) that quantifies the average duration required for a customer service agent to manage a customer interaction, encompassing the entire journey from its initiation to its conclusion. This metric comprises not only the time spent in direct conversation with the customer, known as “talk time,” but also the additional moments dedicated to tasks after the call concludes, including documenting the interaction and conducting post-call activities, often referred to as “after-call work” or “wrap-up time.

Here’s a more detailed exploration of Average Handle Time and its significance:

Talk Time

Talk time represents the period during which the customer service agent is actively engaged in conversing with the customer. It encompasses the duration in which the agent listens to the customer’s inquiry, provides assistance, addresses concerns, and seeks resolutions. Efficient management of talk time is essential for promptly meeting customer needs while ensuring that interactions remain thorough and effective.

After-Call Work (ACW) or Wrap-Up Time

After the customer interaction concludes, agents typically invest additional time in tasks that are crucial for maintaining accurate records, enhancing future customer interactions, and fulfilling organisational requirements. After-call work includes activities such as documenting the details of the interaction, updating customer records, initiating follow-up actions, and preparing for the next interaction. This phase contributes significantly to the overall AHT.

Measurement and Analysis

AHT is meticulously measured and analysed to evaluate agent performance, operational efficiency, and the quality of customer service. Contact centre supervisors and managers scrutinise AHT data to identify areas for improvement, set performance benchmarks, and ensure that customer interactions are handled in a timely and effective manner.

Customer Satisfaction

While AHT is primarily an operational metric, it also has implications for customer satisfaction. Efficient handling of interactions, without unnecessary delays, contributes to a positive customer experience. However, achieving a balance between expeditious service and delivering high-quality support remains crucial, as overly rushed interactions may negatively impact customer satisfaction.

Resource Allocation

AHT plays a pivotal role in resource allocation and scheduling within the contact centre. It helps contact centre managers determine staffing levels required to manage call volumes efficiently during different time periods. By optimising agent availability in alignment with anticipated AHT, contact centres can minimise wait times and enhance service quality.

Process Improvement

AHT data can shed light on bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas where agents may require additional training or support. This insight allows contact centres to implement process improvements and refine agent skills to expedite interactions without compromising quality.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

AHT often features prominently in SLAs between contact centres and clients or internal service level agreements. Meeting AHT targets is a critical component of fulfilling these agreements and ensuring that service expectations are consistently met.


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