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Three Misconceptions About Average Handle Time

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a measure of the length of a customer service conversation, whether it be a phone call, messaging conversation, or email. AHT is one of the most-used reporting metrics to gauge the effectiveness of customer service. However, a few aspects of AHT show it may not be a wholly reliable metric.

Not All Channels Are Equal

Using the same metric to compare different channels may not be the best approach. One of the differences between voice and text-based channels is the expectation of synchronicity.

Voice conversations are real-time. Since the customer is fully engaged with the conversation, the problems can typically be solved faster than other channels.

Text-based channels lead to asynchronous conversations, but even those channels have different standards and expectations. Customers using live chat expect quick resolutions and are readily engaged with the conversation. On the other hand, customer interactions via SMS or other messaging applications can be sent to the background and addressed as the customer has time. And then there is email, which customers use for low-priority, non-time-sensitive queries.

Faster Solutions Are Not Always Better

Shorter calls have advantages – they allow businesses to handle more calls per day and can help reduce resourcing needs. However, there are some disadvantages to consider, as well:

  • A steady, conversational interaction can provide a better customer experience
  • Pushing service representatives to solve issues quickly can lead to increased stress, burnout, and turnover
  • A rushed solution may not be the right solution, leading to repeat calls for the same issue and lower customer satisfaction

Some Problems Cannot Be Solved Quickly

Using time as a metric ignores the complexity of each issue. Some service issues require additional time. For example, a company that sells WiFi routers likely handles different types of requests. A simple query for connecting a device may take a minute or less, while a detailed troubleshooting issue that requires multiple reboots could last 10 minutes or more.

How To Effectively Use AHT In Reporting

Individual reporting metrics such as AHT should not be used as a sole determinant for service representatives’ performance. Businesses who want an accurate picture should consider the channel, first-call resolution rate, and severity of the issue.

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