Authored by: Juanita Coley
AHT, short for Average Handle Time, is a measurement or metric used to determine how long it takes an employee to handle a customer interaction.
These interactions can range from phone calls, emails, chats, back-office tasks, etc.
However, generally, when you hear AHT mentioned in the call center world we are talking about real-time interactions like phone calls, chats, and video calls.
In simple terms, it’s the clock ticking on your customer service transactions.
In the bustling world of call centers, AHT is more than just an acronym; it’s a critical metric shaping the way businesses operate and impacts your overall customer experience.
Understanding AHT is crucial because it fundamentally impacts staffing, and as you can likely imagine, being properly staffed directly influences the customer experience.
The AHT Connection: Staffing and Customer Satisfaction
So, how does AHT impact staffing and customers? Well, I’m glad you asked!
I would bet that every once in a while, you may have gone to a store where ALL the checkout lanes were full, and it felt like FOREVER as the cashiers seemed to be taking an exceptionally long time to reach you in line. So, what did you do? Did you wait patiently in line, or did you leave? Well, depending on how badly you needed the items you may
have waited, or you may have left and perhaps even tried a different store (aka their competitor).
The time it takes for a business to serve its customers, combined with the number of customers, determines the required staff needed to effectively serve them.
In the world of WFM (Workforce Management) we call this determining your “workload.” Workload is a formula that is a combination of Volume multiplied by AHT.
Not understanding and knowing how long it takes to serve your customers on average would create staffing gaps which in turn, can cause a trickle-down effect to how
well you serve your customers, causing them to leave your brand for a competitor with quicker service.
While AHT isn’t the sole factor you should be considering in staffing and customer experience, it’s definitely a significant player in service and even
product-based industries where calls, emails, chats, shipping, and any back-office task needs to be accounted for and impacts the overall customer experience journey.
The Other Side of the Coin: AHT and Employee Well-being
Now, let’s turn our attention from how AHT impacts customer experience and talk about the employee experience. Think of those employees at the full cash registers –
burned out, tired, frustrated, overworked, and underappreciated are just a few words that may pop to mind.
Understanding AHT will not only ensure that you are effectively serving your customers but will also ensure that the frontline staff, who are doing the actual serving,
are appropriately taken care of. Because you already know my saying “Without an employee experience strategy your CX (customer experience) strategy is trash!
Take care of your people and your people will take care of the business. This in turn will have a direct impact on the business profits and bottom line.
So, there you have it folks, that’s how a little metric like AHT can have a BIG business impact!
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