Average handling time (AHT) is the time spent by each customer care executive on a customer call. AHT is measured from the time customer initiates the call till the time the call is ended. AHT indicates the efficiency with which the executives can handle the customer queries.
Higher handling time will cost you customer satisfaction & money. The longer you take to assess the problem and provide the solution the more disgruntled your customers become. The longer you take to complete a call, fewer calls you can answer in a day. Either hold times will go up or you’ll need more agents for the same number of calls per day. Here are a few ways to reduce your average handling time, keep your customer’s happy and reduce service delivery cost.
1. Automate Simpler Queries
Integrate your systems with automatic answers to reduce directing basic queries to your customer care executives. This will not only reduce the average handle time but will also help you to deploy your human resources for solving more complex customer problems.
2. Use the AAA System
Implement the AAAs i.e. Acknowledge, Ask and Answer. When the customer calls, it is incredibly important to actively listen and acknowledge their problems. Then proceed by asking questions that will help you to better understand their situations. Once you are sure that you have completely understood the customer’s problems, go ahead and give answers to the solutions. By incorporating this system into your regular interactions with the customers, you will prevent straying away from the problems and will be able to reduce the average handling time.
3. Don’t Deliberately Reduce Average Handling Time
Don’t just focus on reducing the average handling time. Even if you want to reduce the AHT you should first focus on addressing and solving your customer’s queries effectively. If you just focus to reduce average handling time, it wouldn’t be too long till your customer’s take notice of it. In an attempt to cut short, you’ll seem to rush through the call, leaving the customer unhappy. If the customer’s query is not fully resolved, you will receive multiple follow-up calls. Your first objective should always be to solve customer’s issue & next should be reduced AHT.
4. Get Feedback from the Executives
Ask your customer care executives what’s working. Keep a regular register to record the frequently asked questions. Analyze the root of these common doubts and queries. Implement the solutions for customers or develop a crafted response to these questions. This will help you to reduce either the number of calls or the average handling time. As your executives are the customer-facing personnel for you, getting their feedback will always give you crucial insights. Make sure to listen, to analyze and implement this feedback from the executives.
5. Route calls to the Experts
Evaluate which of your customer care executives are good at answering which questions. If some executives have mastered particular areas then route such queries only to these executives. The figure who is the expert on which queries. When you route queries to executives who have mastered that particular area you will be able to reduce the average handling time and even provide a proper and accurate solution to the customers.
6. Teach Executives How to Deal with Blabbers
There will always be customers who won’t be able to articulate their problems well or who beat around the bush to come to the final point. Train your executives to deal with such customers effectively. By gauging the problems early on during the call, you can reduce the average handling time. They key is to make the customers happy while handling their problems and reducing your own hassles smartly.
7. Use Scripts as a Guide
Don’t force your customer care executives to stick to the script. Let them use it as a mere guide and not a dialogue script. Too much focus on the scripts will impact active listening, increasing the overall handling time. Encourage your executives to listen well and ask the right questions instead of sticking to a pre-written script.
8. Build a Customer-Focused Website
This is a long-term solution for reducing the number of calls as well as the average handling time. When your website is self-explanatory and answers all the questions that could be posed by your customers, your cost of handling customer grievances will automatically go down.
9. Eliminate Redundant Questions
When you give a pre-written script to your executives, eliminate redundant questions from it. Not all sorts of queries will require the executives to ask all the questions in a script. Tailor the questions asked to a given topic or subject of problems and reduce the average handling time by avoiding the additional or extra questions.
10. Provide Regular Training to Executives
Train your customer care executives regularly to keep them up-to-date with changing or evolving questions of the customers. Include elaborate techniques to teach them to reduce the average handling time. Providing regular training to executives will help them to become more efficient with handling customer calls.
Reducing average handling time will not only bring down costs and help your executives to address more queries but will also increase customer satisfaction levels as they will receive solutions to their queries in less time. Customer satisfaction is the key to the success of any product or service and reducing the average handling time is one of the key components to providing a service that satisfies your customers. Implement these techniques and see your handling time going down gradually.