You’ve reduced customer effort but what about average handling time?

28th Aug, 2015
Read time: 2 minutes

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 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. In today's blog we look at the support you can give agents to help them keep average handling times down.

Upskill your agents
Customers with more complex enquiries now gain the attention they require. Upskill your agents to handle this required complexity and use skills based routing to ensure each contact is effectively delivered 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. Our infographic demonstrates other factors that can help maintain optimal average handling time as you seek to fix queries at first point of contact.

Provide a single customer view
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.

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.

Use automation to stay ahead of the game
Automated proactive outbound notifications using a blend of SMS, email and voice reduces inbound contact as customers feel updated and informed. Additionally with higher first contact resolution you should see a reduction in 'failure demand' and improved customer satisfaction.

Let technology take the strain
Offering simple steps at the start of the call makes a big difference to your customer journey. Introducing professionally designed interactive voice response (IVR) and speech recognition options quickly routes customers to the correct department. During periods of high demand offer customers the option of a call back to reduce customer frustration and improve service whilst smoothing peaks in demand for your agents.

Conclusion – success at every stage
Reducing customer effort by mapping and then streamlining the customer journey is likely to change the call profile for complex calls. When you focus on resolution using a combination of automation of service, training, process and notifications you are able to achieve optimal contact centre productivity. Your more productive agents will be freed to resolve queries for customers who really need your attention, while customer experience is transformed building brand loyalty, profitable growth and happy clients.

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