AHT agent targets – a time-honoured approach or is there another way?

25th Nov, 2015
Read time: 1 minute

The use of Average Handling Time (AHT) as an agent target is a highly controversial issue in the contact centre industry. While some managers truly believe it to be the best way of measuring contact centre efficiency, others use it simply for lack of a good alternative. In this article, we hope to shed some light on the viable alternatives to using AHT as an agent target, while still striving for optimum efficiency.

Empower your customers with self-service
As many companies look to reduce customer effort in the contact centre, the focus shifts to customer engagement and first contact resolution. Dr. Nicola Millard of BT confirms that interactions with the contact centre of the future will become increasingly complex. Empower your customers to manage simple enquiries at a time and channel convenient to them, by providing self-service technology. As short routine contacts are increasingly replaced by self-service, the average handling time of more complex contacts will unavoidably increase.

Use skills based routing to maximise agent ability
Customers with more complex enquiries now gain the attention they require. Upskill your agents to handle the required complexity and use skills based routing to ensure an effective delivery of each contact to the most appropriately skilled agent. Organisations should maintain a watchful eye on the average handling time (AHT) of these contacts while considering their processes and workflows together with agent training and performance management.

Reduce inefficiencies to boost productivity
Agent productivity is likely to be adversely affected when data, routing, system or process inefficiencies exist. These hurdles place agents at a disadvantage by constraining access to the required information, which contributes to unnecessary delays in contact handling.

The right tools for the job
Providing simple and intuitive tools such as a unified agent desktop or a single customer view gives a consolidated view of the customer’s case and document history. This improves data accuracy and simplifies agent training. When enquiry actions automatically drive workflows they provide a structured follow-up for queries, rapidly inform back-office colleagues and enable real-time progress monitoring, facilitating early resolution.

Keep customers in the loop with automation
Automated proactive outbound notifications minimise chasing calls as customers feel updated and informed. Contact centres that focus on resolution using a combination of automation of service, training, process and notifications are able to achieve optimal contact centre productivity. Your customers’ experience is transformed building brand loyalty, profitable growth and happy clients.

Delivering consistently superior service is challenging; it needs every team member to perform well every day.
Read our factsheet for more info on effectively managing advisor performance and monitoring how contacts are handled.

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