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The Contact Center KPIs that Matter Most – Data Sheet Collection Part 3: AHT

Contact centers everywhere seek to reduce AHT (Average Handling Time) the KPI that measures the average duration of communications between agents and customers. A low AHT is associated with a positive customer service experience and cost efficiencies, as it allows agents to handle more calls during a shift.

Research has shown that the average AHT is 6 minutes and 3 seconds, but this number varies widely across different industries. For example:

SectorAverage Handling Time
Telecommunications8 minutes, 48 seconds
Retail5 minutes, 24 seconds
Business and IT Services4 minutes, 42 seconds
Financial Services4 minutes, 42 seconds

 

The drive to reduce AHT is nothing new. Common practices include recording calls to assess efficiency, using ‘cheat sheets’ and specific handling protocols to ensure fast resolutions, developing robust online self-service options and deploying additional floor managers to provide back-up to agents when needed.

While these tactics have been effective, a new smartphone-based technology – Visual Assistance – has made a significant impact on contact centers around the world, as it has been proven to reduce AHT.

Visual Assistance technology allows an agent to see a customer’s issue via their smartphone

camera or by sharing their smart phone screen. This enables the agent to easily diagnose the problem and visually guide the customer towards a solution. Using Augmented Reality annotations, agents provide precise visual guidance, helping customers by showing them the exact steps they need to take.

The ability to see a customer’s environment helps to reduce AHT by allowing agents to:

  1. Easily understand the customer’s issue – eliminating the time spent asking a long list of questions
  2. Guide the customer visually – using Augmented Reality, the customer is shown exactly what to do so the process is completed in a fraction of the time
  3. Verify the issue’s resolution – without waiting for the customer to verify it verbally
  4. Actively engage the customer – overcoming language and ability barriers and altering the agent-customer dynamic
  5. Benefit from support – delivering timely decision support to agents via an image knowledge center, comprised of predefined visual instructions based on previous successful resolutions
  6. Eliminate irrelevant cases – allowing agents to quickly identify out-of-scope issues, for example by seeing that a customer’s warranty has expired
  7. Decrease escalations — more capable agents mean that call transfers – a notorious pain point in any customer episode – are radically reduced, slashing call duration
  8. Reduce post-call work – a pictures is worth a thousand words and an image can easily replace a lengthy post-call writeup. For example, the reason for a device replacement will be clear if an image of a broken device is appended to the case.

While Visual Assistance  is proven to reduce AHT in the long run, keep in mind that the path to improving this core KPI may have some small bumps along the way. As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve involved, although most agents report that the software is easily learned. In addition, contact centers must find the correct timing and scope of when best to initiate a Visual Assistance session in order to ensure that the call flow is as efficient as possible. The session initiation process itself may add to the AHT initially but choosing a vendor that offers a web-based, app-free solution cuts this delay significantly.

Download this new Data Sheet to learn more about Visual Assistance and how the technology can drastically reduce AHT in your contact center without affecting the quality of customer interactions.

 

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