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AHT Meaning: Average Handle Time and How Can It Help Your Business?

Luca MicheliJan 17, 2023
AHT Meaning: Average Handle Time and How Can It Help Your Business?
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You may have come across the term Average Handle Time. Wondering about AHT meaning and how it can help your company? Well, you’re in the right place.

As a manager, you always look for ways to improve customer service. Rightly so – 88% of consumers say that the customer experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. 

What can you do to excel in this area? One way to achieve this is by learning what AHT is and how to use it to your advantage. Find out how this metric can help you optimize your communication channels.

AHT Meaning hero image

AHT meaning: What is average handle time?

Average handle time (AHT) is the average call duration OR the average time spent on each chat during which a customer service representative handles a client’s query or problem. This includes a couple of aspects:

  1. Total talk time/total chat time — the exact number of minutes (and even seconds!) an employee spends communicating with the client
  2. Total hold time — the time necessary for internal communications and routing to the right agent 
  3. After call/chat work — the time an agent needs to perform other related tasks after the call/chat
  4. Volume — the number of cases resolved within a certain time frame

Why is it important to track average handle time?

By monitoring and tracking your AHT, you get a better understanding of the efficiency of your customer service team. It becomes much easier to identify areas that need improving.

AHT meaning — monitoring average handle time

Monitoring average handle times can help you to identify which tasks take longer to get done. For example, let’s say that your team is spending a lot of time on hold waiting for a customer to answer. How can you reduce this time? One possible solution could be implementing a callback system.

Tracking AHT can also help you identify trends and patterns in customer behavior. When collecting data, you may notice that certain times of day or days of the week have a higher AHT than others. By understanding these patterns, you can take steps to adjust your customer service staffing levels or implement other strategies to improve efficiency during peak times.

How to calculate the AHT of your contact center

  1. Start by gathering the necessary customer service data points. First, determine the total time each agent spends handling interactions on different channels – during one day, one week or even a whole month.
  2. Another one of the key metrics you need to collect is the number of interactions within that period.
  3. Now, divide your first key metric by the second one.
  4. The number you end up with is the average amount of time for handling each phone call or chat conversation.

For example, if your call center agents handled a total of 100 calls in a day and the total handling time was 500 minutes, the average handle time would be 5 minutes per call.

AHT meaning—how to calculate the average handle time

AHT formula – measure your contact center performance

The basic formula for calculating AHT is:

AHT = (TT + HT + ACWT) / C

The meanings of these abbreviations are as follows:

  • AHT – average handle time (seconds)
  • TT – talk time/chat time (seconds)
  • HT – time on hold (seconds)
  • ACWT – time needed after the call/chat (seconds)
  • C – number of calls/chats taken

You can easily calculate this value for yourself here. Don’t forget to standardize your units to keep things neat and simple! Make sure you’re only using minutes or seconds.

Remember – not all interactions are the same. You may need to calculate the AHT for specific types of calls or chats individually. Factors to consider are the specific skills and experience of the agents, the complexity of the issue or even the time of day when the conversation takes place.

Average handle time – the industry standard for contact centers

The industry standard for average handle time varies depending on the specific type of customer service you provide. Some industries have a longer or shorter AHT simply because of the complexity of the issues that customers are facing and the available resources. 

Here’s a table showing Talkdesk’s recent Global Contact Center KPI Benchmarking Report, illustrating AHT for different industries.

IndustryAHT
Agriculture213 seconds
Consumer/Professional Services216 seconds
Financial Services & Insurance245 seconds
Government & Public Sector252 seconds
Healthcare208 seconds
Hospitality191 seconds
Manufacturing253 seconds
Retail, Ecommerce & Consumer Goods209 seconds
Telecommunications156 seconds
Transportation & Logistics248 seconds
Average handle time per industry

What is a good AHT for customer satisfaction?

Unfortunately, there’s no one correct answer. A good AHT is one that allows customers to have their issues resolved quickly and effectively while feeling taken care of. At the same time, you should be thinking about how to get agents to handle a high volume of calls efficiently. This doesn’t always mean the shortest is best. Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

A good AHT is also one that is consistently achieved. When customers always get the same great treatment, you’re rewarded with a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Ultimately, the right AHT for you will depend on the specific needs of your company and clients. Why not gather feedback about customer experiences directly from your clients? Don’t be afraid to ask about what they enjoy or what they would like to see improved.

You can easily set up a satisfaction survey on your site, app or send it via email with Customerly.

Customerly surveys

Reducing AHT: How can it help your business?

By optimizing your AHT, you ensure that your customer service team is working at its full potential. This can help to improve your client satisfaction and increase customer loyalty.

Good customer service means a higher satisfaction rate, which in turn effectively builds brand loyalty. As it turns out, a whopping 93% of customers will likely make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. 47% of consumers actually stop buying from a company after experiencing bad customer service.

AHT can also help you save (and earn) money. By reducing the time your contact center team spends on each interaction, you can cut down on your labor costs and increase your overall profitability. Streamlining simple processes leaves you with more time to focus on complex issues.

How to improve AHT

Remember, speed isn’t everything. Never rush a customer just to lower your AHT. The same goes for your employees – you want them to be working at the peak of their potential, which means stress-free and unrushed. Here are some better ways to do this:

  1. A good place to start is to provide your employees with all the necessary tools and resources they need to resolve customer issues more efficiently. How about a new, comprehensive knowledge management system or clear, concise scripts? A training program in effective communication skills might also come in handy.
Customerly help center
  1. Another way to reduce AHT is to streamline processes. Work to eliminate all unnecessary steps or tasks.
  2. A customer relationship management (CRM) system can help to provide agents with important information about the customers they’re working with. The additional insight will help them work more quickly and effectively.
Customerly user profile
  1. Try providing multiple channels for customer support. These can include phone, email and live chat.
  2. Opt for automated services to handle routine or simple inquiries wherever and whenever you can. Studies show that chatbots help deflect up to 50% of an agent’s workload.

How Customerly can help you reduce your AHT

At its core, Customerly is a customer service software. It’s the most sophisticated, efficient behavioral messaging platform on the market.

What can you expect from Customerly?

  • Faster customer service, leaving your team with more time to focus on people who have complex issues
  • Reduced easy-to-answer tickets
  • Fully-featured live chat, which allows building new relationships with users instantly and quickly responding to their queries
  • Improving customer satisfaction by automating chat and email messages based on previous customer behavior
  • Collecting valuable customer insights with chat, email and in-app surveys
  • Access to a shared inbox – view all user, team and conversations data in one place
  • An automated help center
  • Team efficiency reports
  • Competitive pricing and intuitive design

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to test all that Customerly has to offer.

Conclusion

AHT is a valuable metric that can be used to improve the efficiency of your customer service team, consequently providing better service to your customers. By tracking and analyzing your AHT, you’ll easily identify areas for improvement. You’ll know what strategies to implement to reduce AHT, improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. 

Customerly is the perfect tool for this. It will help you save time and money using automation — the future of great customer service. Don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free trial to see what results you can achieve with the help of sophisticated customer service software.

FAQs

Now let’s take a moment to answer some of your most pressing questions about the meaning of AHT and its practical use:

What does AHT mean?

AHT is an acronym that stands for Average Handling Time. It’s a measure of the average amount of time it takes for a customer service representative to handle client inquiries and complaints. This metric is often used in companies to evaluate the efficiency and quality of customer care and identify areas for improvement.

How do you improve average handle time in a call center?

One way is to provide call center agents with better tools and resources. This may include access to a comprehensive knowledge base, concise scripts and effective communication skills training.

Customerly  knowledge base

Another way to improve average handle time is to streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary tasks. Customerly is the perfect tool for this. Be sure to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to provide agents with important information about each client.

What is an average handle time for chat support?

This metric varies depending on the industry. Generally speaking, AHT for chat support is shorter than for calls. That’s because chats are typically automated and they allow agents to handle multiple customer inquiries simultaneously.

Customers can clearly type out their questions and concerns. This helps to reduce misunderstandings, resulting in faster solutions. All in all, AHT for chat support is usually between 3 and 5 minutes.

What impact does a high AHT have?

A high AHT means increased operating costs. If each agent spends a long time on communication, it can cost the business more in terms of wages and other resources.

Conversations with long average duration almost always lead to customer dissatisfaction. What follows is a decrease in customer loyalty and an increase in customer churn.

It’s not just the customer who suffers. Your employees will probably also find spending too long with their callers annoying. High AHT translates to burnout and low morale among your team, with agents becoming easily frustrated and overwhelmed by their job.

What causes high average handle time?

One common cause for a high AHT is a lack of tools and resources for call center agents. The lack of ongoing training for contact center agents can also lead to longer AHT. If agents are not trained effectively on the products or services they represent (or if they lack communication skills), they are likely to spend more time on each call.

Complex or confusing processes and procedures can contribute to high average handle time, as agents may spend more time trying to navigate them. An overwhelming volume of calls or chats, which take agents longer to handle, can also cause high AHT.

Luca Micheli

Luca Micheli

CEO @ Customerly

Luca Micheli is a serial tech entrepreneur with one exited company and a passion for bootstrap digital projects. He's passionate about helping companies to succeed with marketing and business development tips.

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