Management

Effective Methods of Improving Average Handle Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImproving average handle time is an intricate process that involves incorporating agent training programs and efficient operation of the technology available within a system, among others.

Contrary to popular belief, it needs a multi-pronged approach, and doesn't simply involve improving the interactions between agents and customers.

For instance, each bump on a road has an impact on the average handle time and also significantly reduces the number of minutes within every hour that an agent can efficiently work. If this is extrapolated to include hundreds of agents over periods of eight-hour shifts, it translates to an organization failing to pick thousands of calls every 24 hours, which has the potential of making existing and potential customers dissatisfied (since their calls fail to go through in time).

Customers who eventually have their calls answered after having to wait for considerable amount of time will most probably use most their airtime to vent their frustrations, and this results in increased average handle time as well as decreased capacity to handle other important calls.

It also translates to loss of significant percentage of potential business opportunities with prospective customers.

Solution

The problem can be resolved by getting rid of customers' frustrations which are usually caused by forcing them to wait on hold. As a result, call agents won't be forced to listen to disgruntled customers who usually consume considerable amounts of their productive time complaining and venting out their frustrations, thus significantly affecting the overall productivity of call agents.

VHT (Virtual Hold Technology) Callback is very efficient and effective in reducing average handle time. It ensures that customers don't have to be put on hold for several agonizing minutes. Instead, they go straight ahead to express their problems to agents without necessarily having to wait for long periods of time before their calls can go through. The resultant effects are satisfied customers, fewer complaints, greater efficiency and more productive employees.

VHT Callback essentially works by informing customers about the amount of time that they'll possibly have to wait before arranging their calls in a virtual queue. It also gives them the choice of being called back within predetermined periods of time instead of making them wait for unknown amounts of time.

VHT has two main advantages; it prevents call abandonments and also provides extra workforce optimization benefits.

How VHT reduces call abandonment

Call abandonment is an obvious indication that a particular customer is dissatisfied with a service experience that he/she has obtained from an organization. The disgruntled customer may want to spread negative propaganda concerning the organization on social media and other platforms, which may significantly affect the organization's image and reputation.

VHT Callback effectively reduces call abandonment by practically ensuring that a caller doesn't get the urge to abandon his/her call in the first place. Before entering a customer's call into a queue, it lets him/her know the amount of time that he/she will probably have to wait and also informs the customer that if all the agents are actively engaged, one of them will call him/her back after a short while.

How VHT provides extra workforce optimization benefits

Accurate prediction of inbound call volume is quite difficult. Although there are various tools that a manager can use to ensure accurate prediction, most of them tend to use historical data instead of doing real time calculations.

For instance, the infamous 2003 blackout and the unforgettable 2008 financial crisis were events of significant magnitudes that nobody/ no organization anticipated. It was therefore difficult for anybody to predict the possible number of emergency calls that would be made to various agencies such as police stations and hospitals.

It's therefore important for organizations to put in place adequate measures that will ensure workforce optimization in the event of such critical moments.

VHT Callback is amazing technology that has the capacity of ensuring workforce optimization even when there's unusually high number of callers.

Case study

Challenge

Atmos Energy Corporation is one of the largest natural gas distributors in USA. It serves approximately three million customers living in nine different states.

The customers usually call the company with enquiries about billing, service outages, new accounts and other emergencies.

The volume of incoming calls usually increases during the cold season (December- April). Before Atmos Energy Corporation implemented the VHT Callback technology in their systems, it used to face serious challenges in handling and managing their calls.

The company therefore tried implementing several strategies which were quite unsuccessful and only resulted in customer dissatisfaction and significant financial implications.

Solution

Atmos Energy Corporation decided to embrace VHT Callback in order to reduce customer dissatisfaction, stress on their call agents, associated financial costs and improve average handle time.

The technology has given customers the option of hanging up their calls if all the call agents are engaged, after which they are called back within short durations of time by the next available call agents.

According to reliable reports, customers of Atmos Energy Corporation have generally become more satisfied and often appreciate the company for services rendered whenever they begin their telephone conversations with call agents.

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