Efficiency is the most important aspect of any Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company. One crucial metric that plays a pivotal role in gauging and improving efficiency is the Average Handling Time (AHT). AHT in BPO is a metric that measures the average time taken by a customer service agent to handle a customer interaction from start to finish.
In this blog, we will explore what AHT is, how to calculate it, the role of speech analytics in managing AHT, and how innovative solutions like Mihup can significantly contribute to improving AHT.
What is AHT?
Average Handling Time (AHT) in BPO refers to the total time an agent spends handling a customer interaction, including the time spent talking to the customer and any after-call work (ACW) performed. It is a critical metric as it directly impacts customer satisfaction and operational costs. AHT is often measured in minutes and seconds and is a key performance indicator (KPI) in the call center industry.
AHT is composed of various elements, including talk time, hold time, dead air and after-call work. Talk time is the duration an agent spends actively communicating with the customer. Hold time is the time a customer is put on hold during an interaction. After-call work involves tasks performed by the agent after the call, such as entering notes or updating customer records.
Efficiently managing AHT is crucial for achieving a balance between providing high-quality customer service and optimizing operational costs. A lower AHT indicates that agents handle customer interactions more swiftly, potentially improving overall customer satisfaction.
How to Calculate AHT:
Calculating AHT involves considering the time spent on various components of a customer interaction. The formula for calculating AHT is as follows:
AHT = (Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total ACW Time) / Total Number of Interactions
- Total Talk Time: The time spent by the agent actively communicating with the customer.
- Total Hold Time: The time a customer is placed on hold during the interaction.
- Total ACW Time: The time spent on after-call work, such as documenting the interaction or updating customer records.
- Total Number of Interactions: The sum of all customer interactions handled by the agent.
- By accurately calculating AHT, BPOs can gain insights into how efficiently their agents are managing customer interactions and identify areas for improvement.
Why Measuring AHT is Crucial to Understand Efficiency in BPOs
Efficiency is the heartbeat of any successful business, and in the realm of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), measuring Average Handling Time (AHT) holds the key to understanding and enhancing operational efficiency. Here’s why tracking AHT is of paramount importance in comprehending and improving efficiency within BPOs:
Customer Satisfaction and Experience
AHT directly influences the customer experience. Customers appreciate prompt and efficient service, and a lower AHT typically correlates with quicker issue resolution. When customer interactions are handled swiftly, it contributes to higher satisfaction levels and fosters a positive perception of the brand.
Measuring AHT allows BPOs to optimize their resources effectively. By understanding how much time is spent on each interaction, organizations can allocate resources judiciously, ensuring that the right number of agents are available to handle the expected volume of queries. This leads to cost savings and prevents overstaffing or understaffing scenarios.
AHT plays a crucial role in controlling operational costs. Longer handling times not only impact customer satisfaction but also increase the cost per interaction. By minimizing AHT, BPOs can achieve a balance between providing quality service and controlling operational expenses, ultimately contributing to improved profitability.
Performance Measurement and Agent Productivity
AHT serves as a key performance indicator (KPI) for individual agents and the overall team. It provides a tangible metric to assess how efficiently agents are managing customer interactions. Identifying high performers and areas that need improvement enables targeted training and coaching, leading to enhanced overall agent productivity.
AHT data is invaluable for effective workforce planning. Understanding the average time spent on different types of interactions helps in forecasting staffing requirements. BPOs can align their workforce more accurately with anticipated call volumes, ensuring that they have the right resources in place during peak times.
Identification of Bottlenecks and Process Improvements
AHT data can highlight bottlenecks in the customer service process. By analyzing where the majority of time is spent, BPOs can identify areas that may need process improvements or automation. Streamlining workflows and eliminating unnecessary steps can contribute to a significant reduction in AHT.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Many BPOs operate under SLAs that define the expected response and resolution times for customer interactions. AHT is a critical factor in meeting these SLAs. By consistently measuring and managing AHT, BPOs can ensure compliance with contractual commitments, and build trust with clients and customers.
Proactive Issue Resolution
AHT metrics can also be indicative of recurring issues or challenges in customer interactions. By identifying patterns in AHT data, BPOs can proactively address root causes, preventing similar issues from arising in the future. This proactive approach contributes to a smoother customer experience and reduced handling times.
Role of Speech Analytics in Handling AHT
Read our blog: Speech Analytics in BPO Improve Your Business Value
Speech analytics plays a crucial role in managing AHT by providing valuable insights into customer interactions. Here’s how speech analytics contributes to handling AHT effectively:
Automated Call Transcription
Speech analytics technology offers automated call transcription capabilities, converting spoken words into text for thorough analysis. This transcription serves as a foundational element in understanding the content and context of customer-agent conversations. By automatically transcribing and cataloging recorded calls, BPOs gain the ability to review and dissect interactions efficiently. This feature proves invaluable in identifying keywords, phrases, and specific language patterns that are relevant to the customer’s issue.
The automated nature of this process not only expedites the analysis but also ensures a comprehensive overview of customer interactions. By having a textual representation of conversations, BPOs can easily pinpoint crucial information that aids in resolving issues promptly, directly impacting AHT.
Identification of Key Issues
Speech analytics goes beyond mere transcriptions by analyzing speech patterns and content to identify common issues or emerging trends across various customer interactions. This advanced analysis allows BPOs to proactively recognize recurring problems that may contribute to prolonged handling times.
By understanding the root causes of these issues, BPOs can implement targeted solutions, ranging from process improvements to additional agent training. Addressing these challenges at their core ensures a more efficient resolution of similar issues in the future, ultimately reducing AHT and enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
Agent Performance Evaluation
Speech analytics serves as a powerful tool for evaluating the performance of customer service agents. By systematically analyzing interactions, supervisors can gain insights into individual agent strengths and areas that may require improvement. This data-driven approach enables a more nuanced understanding of agent performance beyond basic metrics like AHT.
Supervisors can identify instances where agents excel in providing solutions or demonstrate exceptional communication skills. Conversely, areas of improvement can be highlighted, leading to targeted training programs. This personalized approach to agent development contributes to enhanced efficiency and effectiveness, directly impacting AHT and the overall quality of customer service.
Script Compliance and Guidance
Ensuring that agents adhere to scripts and guidelines is a crucial aspect of maintaining consistency in customer interactions. Speech analytics plays a vital role in monitoring script compliance by analyzing agent responses during conversations. By identifying deviations from established scripts, BPOs can maintain a standardized approach to customer interactions.
Moreover, speech analytics tools can provide real-time guidance to agents, ensuring that they stay on script and provide accurate information. This proactive support not only contributes to script compliance but also reduces the likelihood of errors or misunderstandings that could lead to extended handling times. The result is a streamlined and consistent customer experience, positively impacting AHT.
Read our blog: 6 Reasons Your Business Needs AI-Powered Speech Analytics
How Can Mihup Help with AHT in BPOs
Mihup, an innovative AI-powered solution, offers a range of features that can significantly contribute to reducing AHT in BPOs. Here are some ways in which Mihup can be a game-changer for optimizing customer service efficiency:
Mihup Interaction Analytics excels in post-call analysis, providing a detailed examination of customer-agent interactions. This feature goes beyond mere call transcriptions, offering a comprehensive breakdown of each interaction. By scrutinizing the nuances of conversations, Mihup enables BPOs to identify specific elements contributing to AHT, whether it be prolonged discussions, repeated queries, or complex issue resolution.
Detailed AHT Reports
Mihup goes a step further by generating detailed reports specifically focused on AHT metrics. These reports offer a holistic view of AHT trends, allowing BPOs to discern patterns and outliers. The granular insights provided by Mihup’s detailed AHT reports empower organizations to make informed decisions, implementing targeted strategies for AHT reduction where it matters most.
Identifying Reasons Behind High AHT
Mihup’s capabilities extend to pinpointing the reasons behind high AHT. Through sophisticated analysis, it identifies the root causes of extended handling times, ranging from complex issues requiring additional attention to agent performance gaps. This nuanced understanding enables BPOs to implement targeted interventions for AHT improvement.
NLP-Based Dead Air Identification
Mihup boasts state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP)-based dead air identification technology. This innovative feature differentiates between valid and invalid dead air during customer-agent interactions. By accurately discerning silent periods that contribute to AHT, Mihup equips BPOs with a tool to address dead air issues proactively, ensuring optimal handling times.
Proactive Issue Resolution
Mihup Interaction Analytics facilitates a proactive approach to issue resolution. By identifying trends and patterns that correlate with high AHT, BPOs can address underlying challenges before they escalate. Whether it’s refining agent training programs or streamlining processes, Mihup enables organizations to stay ahead of potential issues, contributing to a more efficient AHT management strategy.
Mihup empowers decision-makers with the information needed to enhance AHT efficiency. Through its advanced analytics, organizations can make data-driven decisions, tailoring strategies to the unique challenges identified in their AHT landscape. This results in a more agile and responsive approach to AHT management.
Continuous Improvement Culture
Leveraging Mihup Interaction Analytics fosters a culture of continuous improvement within BPOs. By regularly analyzing AHT reports and insights, organizations can iteratively refine their strategies, adapting to evolving customer needs and industry trends. Mihup becomes an integral part of an organization’s commitment to ongoing improvement and efficiency.
AHT is a critical metric that demands strategic attention for optimizing customer service efficiency. By understanding what AHT is, how to calculate it, the role of speech analytics, and the potential of innovative solutions like Mihup, BPOs can take proactive steps toward enhancing their operational performance and delivering superior customer experiences. As the BPO landscape continues to evolve, leveraging technology and AI-driven solutions will be paramount in staying ahead of the curve and meeting the ever-growing expectations of customers.