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Good Customer Service vs Average Handling Time

In Trindent’s financial services call center productivity engagements, we often work with clients who believe that call centres can’t pursue efficiency without negatively impacting the quality of customer service.   

However, good customer service and efficiency don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  If addressed correctly, a call center can have both.

Understanding Your Call Center Metrics

Even with smart IVR routing, the volume and complexity of the calls coming into a bank or insurance call centre are uncontrollable variables.  A high volume of complicated calls can negatively affect call center service levels, and customers service representatives are constantly being pushed to stay within Average Handling Time KPI targets to avoid that.  However, without understanding the underlying inefficiencies that exacerbate the length of each transaction, this negatively impacts the level of customer service that call center agents are able to provide without addressing the real issue.

To understand where inefficiencies in a call center transaction can be found, the first step is to break Average Handling Time (AHT) into its components. 

AHT is measured when Average Talk Time (ATT), Average After-Call Work Time (AWT), and Average Time on Hold (ATH) are added together.  All three AHT components contain the value-add activity of addressing customer issues, but often also include non-value activities that could be streamlined or avoided altogether.


Knowing Where to Look

In our financial industry call centre engagements, Trindent has consistently found a number of common inefficiencies that affect AHT metrics:

  • Skills gaps and lack of training in customer service representatives that lead to unnecessary escalations, excessive call transfers and unneeded rework, which has an affect on all three components of AHT;
  • Talk time beyond addressing customer needs in an attempt to increase customer satisfaction, which affects ATT;
  • Lack of standardized processes or policies for issue resolution, which affects AWT and ATH;
  • Lack of documentation standards, which affects AWT; and
  • Lack of individual CSR performance visibility to management, which affects all three components of AHT.

Getting Results

Once Trindent addressed these inefficiencies and implemented process improvements, CSRs found themselves able to resolve the same volume and complexity of customer requests in a significantly more efficient manner.  This allowed them to stay within AHT targets without affecting customer service.   

With the right approach, call centers don’t have to choose between meeting Average Handling Time targets and good customer service.  Click here to learn more about how Trindent can Make It Happen ™ for your organization.