average talk time

Average Talk Time: The Little Metric with Big Insights

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Average talk time (ATT) is often a neglected little contact center metric. Overshadowed by its bigger, louder counterpart, Average handle time (AHT), it often stays in the background, waiting for someone to notice it and realize its potential.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat—ATT and AHT are different, and serve distinct purposes. While average handle time takes into consideration things like hold time, wrap up work and anything else related to the interaction, average talk time is only the time your agent actually spent talking to the customer—nothing else.

So why should you care, if it doesn’t paint the entire picture of the interaction?

Two words: customer experience.

Your agents represent your brand.  The way they interact with and treat your customers will leave a lasting impression. They are not only the face of your contact center, but of your entire organization. While many contact centers are justifiably concerned with meeting AHT targets, we can’t forget the importance of ATT.

Let’s say you have an agent with consistently good AHT measurements. Based on the data, they finish each interaction in a timely manner and aren’t wasting time on the phone. Great, right? Let’s dig a little deeper.  Imagine they complete an interaction in a total of 2 minutes.  As you break down the components of their AHT score (average talk time, wrap-up work and hold time) you notice that they spent 30 seconds in wrap-up work and placed the customer on hold for 70 seconds, leaving a paltry 20 seconds of interaction with the customer. What kind of an experience do you suppose that customer received?

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but as you dig into your customer experience metrics, don’t neglect to peel back all of the layers of the onion. If your agents are consistently meeting AHT guidelines, but spending very little time on the phone with customers, it might be time to listen in on some calls or send some extra post-call surveys to gauge customer satisfaction.

If you find that your agents are feeling pressured to ditch the customer in order to satisfy a metric you’ve set, it may be time to reevaluate those AHT standards. It’s not an exact science, but with proper training and clear communication to your agents, you can use your Average Talk Time data to ensure the right mix of talk time versus handle time, resulting in a better experience for your customers and a positive impact on business outcomes. Don’t be afraid to course correct as you get more data, don’t forget to tell your agents why when you make adjustments to their targets. Most importantly, don’t sacrifice customer experience for the sake of one metric.

If your contact center platform isn’t allowing you to move quickly enough when you recognize the need to make changes, it may be time to look at a cloud customer experience contact center platform.