These days, people have got more time on their hands than ever before. As a direct result of on and off lockdowns, people are in less of a rush than ever before. Businesses, however, need to be just as efficient as ever, if not more so to ensure they continue to hit targets despite the pandemic. Add to this the fact that many consumers who have spent long periods of time in isolation may be happy for a reason to keep talking, and you’ve got a recipe for long average handling time (AHT).

However, there are many reasons why a long AHT is bad for business. Firstly, AHT directly impacts your costs. Essentially, every minute a customer spends on the phone is another minute you have to pay an agent for. On the other hand, the more calls your agents can get through, the more queries resolved, the more satisfied customers who continue using your service.

But of course, not all customers are happy to dawdle, despite having a less jam-packed schedule. In this situation, if your customer services agents aren’t adept at keeping things speedy, your customers who want to get off the phone as quickly as possible may consider this a bad experience. Waiting for a resolution to their problem can cause frustration, especially when they’ve already had to wait to get through to an advisor.

With so many variables at play here, the most important thing for businesses to keep in mind is that time is money. That said, here are four tips for reducing your average handling time.

Invest in quality agent training

While you want your agents to resolve queries quickly, speeding up your AHT should not impact negatively on your customer service. It is entirely possible to provide an efficient service that is also personable and customer-focused. However, to achieve this you need experienced, adaptable agents who have all the tools they need to do their job well at their disposal.

Such service requires high-quality training for all your agents, especially for those that are new or inexperienced. With a plethora of potential problems awaiting their advice, it’s vital that agents have a clear understanding of the best solution to any issue. Time spent fumbling and passing customers on to other agents only increases the overall phone call time and provides a negative experience for the customer.

As a result, not only will effective agent training improve the customer experience, but it will make for happier agents that know what to do and how to do it.

Streamline common queries

The use of a script can provide agents with an efficient way to deal with calls. However, relying too heavily on a cardboard cut out way of doing things can make customers feel less valued by an agent who is giving stock answers, and ultimately turn them off. Well-trained agents should listen carefully to each customer and show that they value their experience. However, that doesn’t mean agents should get side-tracked and spend too long with a customer.

This is where a streamlined call handling process comes in. This, essentially, provides a roadmap for agents, so they know how to move a call forward proactively, without forcing them to stick to set responses that may not fit the situation at hand. Ultimately, agents that are good at listening, and know the most efficient way to resolve a customer’s query, provide the kind of service that resolves customers’ queries quickly, and ensures they won’t hesitate to ring again.

Have enough agents on the line

This is a tricky one for many businesses, as while they can generally identify patterns, they cannot always make accurate predictions about how many calls they’re likely to get and when. This can either result in having too many or not enough agents available. Too many keeps wait times low, but wastes revenue spent on salaries. On the other hand, not having enough agents available reserves revenue but, should you end up with too many phone calls, creates a backlog of angry customers and creates the potential for missed calls.

As a result, trying to determine how many customer service agents are required at any one time is a minefield for businesses of all sizes. And as customer service agents can be a customer’s only port of call with your business, the importance of having fully trained staff on hand cannot be underestimated.

Consider outsourcing your calls management

This is where outsourcing to a remote customer service team can become a lifeline for businesses trying to offer the best customer service possible, while not overspending on resource that might not be needed. Especially since the cost of outsourcing your customer service team is far more cost-effective than hiring full-time staff.

By outsourcing your customer service, you can gain access to an expert team 24/7. With a highly knowledgeable team working on your behalf, you can benefit from highly trained, skilled representatives who know all the ins and outs of your business to provide the personalized service your customers deserve. With efficient, professional staff working on your behalf, you can reduce your call handling time and rest easy knowing your customers are being looked after.

Best of all, with a provider that’s tailored to your needs, you can scale your requirements up or down. So, you have agents on hand should you have a high volume of calls and can rest easy knowing you’re not overspending on resource should your volume drop.

Of course, when choosing the right provider for your business there’s a lot to consider, so for more help in this area take a look at our recent blog.

Alternatively, to find out how Cymphony’s range of outsourced customer services can help your business reduce call handling time, contact us at enquiries@cymphony.co.uk

 

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