Friday, June 26, 2015


Dealing with large numbers of calls is the contact center’s raison d’etre, but simply having the technology in place isn’t enough. To ensure maximum productivity, you need to make it work for your business.

The critical metric for optimizing contact center productivity is ‘average handle time’ (AHT), which tells you the average time it takes to deal with customers. It’s probably the most common Performance Indicator used by cloud call centers to analyze efficiency.

Why is AHT so important? Scaling up is an exciting development for any startup. Even with thorough planning, it’s difficult to forecast how much interest you can expect from your revitalized marketing and lead gen efforts. If you know how long the average call takes, you can minimize the risk of being under or over staffed.

Despite its importance, AHT is frequently ignored by cloud call center managers. Here’s how to get the most out of your cloud call center:

Optimize Call Routing

We’ve all experienced the frustration of being passed from agent to agent while a call center tries to find the right person for us to speak to. This practice slows the whole operation down, costing time and money, but can easily be eliminated with an IVR system that asks the right questions. Effective call routing ensures a caller speaks to the agent most qualified to handle their call, right from the very start.

Use the Right Queue Strategy

Managing high call volumes while maintaining customer service standards requires careful load balancing. Round Robin is a queue strategy that routes each incoming call to the next transfer number in a specified order, ensuring no single agent is left twiddling their thumbs during peak times. Alternatively, skills-based routing allows you to assign your most experienced agents to high priority calls.

Include Regulatory Information

Put the regulatory information in the IVR introduction. This will save agents from continually reading and repeating important legal and policy information and ensure absolute consistency between every caller. If a caller misses something, they can return to the regulations and hear them again.

Limit IVR Options

Sitting through endless options is a recipe for customer confusion and frustration. Design your IVR in a customer-focused way, with as few “Press x Button” options as possible, and you’ll minimize the risk of losing impatient callers who’ve forgotten which option is suitable for their needs. As a rule of thumb, limit options to five, and avoid complex sub-menus. A streamlined hosted IVR process makes for a better customer experience and a trimmer AHT.

Remember the End-to-End Journey

Every part of the customer experience must be considered. The greeting; menu options; hold music and messages - are they ‘of a piece’? Does your brand message tally with what’s actually happening on the lines? A sense of consistency is the cornerstone of a positive, trustworthy brand image.