Increasing the Speed of Customer Service Interactions – Part One

Most businesses measure contact center effectiveness by time. How long does it take a customer to reach a service representative? What is the average speed of answer (ASA) for a call? What is the average handle time (AHT) for each interaction? How long does a service representative take between interactions? A proper understanding of these metrics can allow businesses to streamline customer service flows and improve the performance of service representatives.

How Typical Customer Interactions Flow

The flow of standard customer interaction with a business can be broken up into a series of actions. With each step, anything that can delay the progression to the next one can have an impact on customer satisfaction and business revenue.

Action Potential delay
The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system presents the customer with options to determine how to route the call. A nonintuitive IVR that forces the customer to repeat the options to determine the best choice
Based on the choice of the customer, the IVR attempts to connect to a service representative. An insufficient number of available service representatives that forces the customer to wait on hold.
Once a representative is available, the call is presented to them. A poorly designed user interface that does not make it obvious how to answer the call
The representative discovers relevant customer information and attempts to solve the problem. Requiring the customer to manually provide basic information, such as name and account number requiring the representative to look it up manually
After resolving the issue, the representative updates the customer information with notes about the interaction, the problem, and the solution. Manually logging the interaction

How Delays Impact Businesses

Today’s customers expect rapid interactions – around six minutes from start to finish. Around 66% of customers who are on hold longer than two minutes will hang up. Customers that abandon calls to a business will not call back 85% of the time. That means that the company misses roughly 55% of customer opportunities due to excessive hold times.

On the business side, extended interactions have a financial impact. Increased time spent on individual calls decreases the number of daily calls per representative. To handle the same volume of calls, businesses need to have additional staff available. Also, long hold times and longer calls increase the telephony costs for the company.

What can businesses do to make interactions faster? The next blog post in this series will discuss options to help keep customer engagement costs down.

To learn more about advanced customer service engagement, visit

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