How to Improve Efficiency without Sacrificing Quality in Average Handle Time

What’s Average Handle Time in customer service?

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a metric that is used to measure the total amount of time it takes for a customer service agent to handle a customer interaction from start to finish. AHT includes the time it takes to resolve the customer's issue as well as any time spent on hold or transferring the customer to another agent.

Importance of maintaining quality while improving efficiency in AHT

While reducing AHT is essential to improving the efficiency of customer service operations, it's important not to sacrifice quality in the process. Maintaining quality ensures that customers receive excellent service and their issues are fully resolved.

Factors Influencing Average Handle Time in customer service

Average handle time (AHT) is a critical metric in customer service that measures the duration of a customer interaction from the time the customer initiates contact until the issue is resolved. AHT is influenced by various factors, including:

Identification of key factors affecting AHT:

  1. Complexity of the issue: More complex issues require additional time to resolve and can increase AHT.

  2. Agent efficiency and skill level: The agent's experience and skill level can have a significant impact on AHT. Agents with more expertise can resolve issues more quickly and efficiently.

  3. System and process efficiency: The efficiency of the systems and processes used by the agent to resolve issues can affect AHT.

  4. Customer cooperation and engagement: The level of cooperation and engagement of the customer can also impact AHT.

Factors impact AHT and quality of customer interactions:

It is important to analyze how each of these factors can impact AHT and the quality of customer interactions. While reducing AHT is important for improving operational efficiency, it is equally essential to ensure that customer satisfaction and the quality of the customer experience are not compromised. AHT reduction efforts must be balanced with the need to deliver exceptional customer service. By identifying the factors that affect AHT, analyzing their impact on AHT and quality, and implementing strategies to improve efficiency while maintaining quality, businesses can strike the right balance between efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Strategies for Improving Efficiency in Average Handle Time

Efficiency is key when it comes to reducing AHT. Below are some strategies that can help streamline processes and workflows to increase efficiency:

1. Streamlining processes and workflows:

One of the most effective ways to reduce AHT is to streamline processes and workflows. This involves identifying and eliminating unnecessary steps in the customer service journey. For example, if agents have to navigate multiple screens or systems to resolve a customer issue, it may be worth exploring solutions to simplify the process.

2. Leveraging technology and automation tools:

Technology can be a powerful tool for improving AHT. There are a variety of automation tools available that can help automate certain tasks or processes, such as chatbots, self-service portals, and automated workflows. This can free up agents to focus on more complex tasks and provide faster resolutions for simple queries.

3. Enhancing agent training and product knowledge:

Investing in agent training and product knowledge is essential to reducing AHT. By providing agents with comprehensive training and knowledge resources, they can more effectively resolve customer issues and provide faster resolutions. This can also help reduce the need for escalations, which can increase AHT. Ultimately, a combination of these strategies can help organizations strike the right balance between efficiency and quality, resulting in a better overall customer experience.

Maintaining Quality during AHT Reduction Efforts

Reducing AHT while maintaining quality can be a challenging task, but with the right strategies in place, it is achievable. Here are some ways to ensure quality is maintained during AHT reduction efforts:

Importance of effective communication and active listening

Effective communication and active listening are essential to maintaining quality interactions with customers. Agents should be trained to communicate clearly and actively listen to customers' concerns to avoid misunderstandings, mistakes, or miscommunications that can lead to longer handle times.

Providing agents with appropriate resources and training

Agents need to have access to the right tools and resources to handle customer inquiries efficiently. Organizations can provide agents with training and resources such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and scripts, enabling them to quickly resolve customer issues.

Monitoring and coaching agents to maintain quality standards

Monitoring and coaching are crucial to ensuring quality standards are met. Organizations can implement call monitoring and coaching programs to identify areas for improvement and provide agents with feedback and coaching to enhance their skills and maintain quality standards. By implementing these strategies, organizations can maintain quality while reducing AHT, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing agent efficiency.

Balancing Customer Experience and AHT

When it comes to managing customer service, it's essential to balance efficiency and customer satisfaction. While reducing average handle time (AHT) is crucial for improving productivity and lowering costs, it's equally important to deliver excellent customer experiences. Here are some tips for balancing customer experience and AHT:

Tips for managing customer expectations and setting realistic time frames:

One of the most effective ways to balance AHT and customer satisfaction is to manage customer expectations. Let customers know how long they might have to wait and what steps you are taking to resolve their issues. Setting realistic time frames can help customers feel more patient and less frustrated.

Utilizing customer feedback and surveys to identify areas for improvement

Customer feedback and surveys can provide valuable insights into how you can improve your processes, reduce AHT, and enhance the customer experience. Use these tools to gather feedback about the quality of your customer interactions, identify areas for improvement, and develop action plans to address the feedback. By taking these steps, you can balance AHT and customer satisfaction, leading to happier customers, more productive agents, and better business outcomes.

Measuring and Analyzing AHT Reduction and Quality Improvement

One of the most important steps in reducing AHT while maintaining quality is to measure and analyze performance. This involves tracking key metrics and using tools to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.

Key Metrics and Tools for Tracking AHT and Quality Metrics

Some of the key metrics that are commonly used to track AHT and quality metrics include:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT)

  • First Call Resolution (FCR)

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

  • Agent Utilization

  • Service Level Agreement (SLA)

To track and analyze these metrics, businesses can use a variety of tools such as:

  • Call center analytics software

  • Customer feedback management software

  • Quality monitoring software

  • Speech analytics software

These tools provide valuable insights into customer interactions and can help identify areas for improvement.

Analyzing Data to Identify Trends, Patterns, and Areas for Further Improvement

Analyzing data is an essential component of improving AHT while maintaining quality. By identifying trends and patterns in customer interactions, businesses can gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to longer handle times and lower quality interactions. Using analytics tools such as speech and text analytics, businesses can analyze customer interactions to identify common themes and issues. These insights can then be used to develop targeted training and coaching programs to address areas for improvement.

What's AptEdge & How it Can Help in Reducing the Average Handle Time?

AptEdge is a powerful call center analytics tool that can help businesses reduce AHT while maintaining quality. By using advanced speech analytics technology, AptEdge can analyze customer interactions to identify areas for improvement and provide insights into how to optimize performance. AptEdge uses machine learning algorithms to automatically categorize calls and identify key topics and themes. It can also analyze sentiment, tone, and emotion to provide a comprehensive view of customer interactions.

Using AptEdge, businesses can:

  • Identify the root causes of longer handle times and lower quality interactions

  • Develop targeted coaching and training programs to address specific areas for improvement

  • Monitor and track performance over time to ensure continuous improvement

  • Gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences

Overall, AptEdge can help businesses achieve the delicate balance between efficiency and quality, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Reducing AHT without sacrificing quality is a challenge for many companies, but with the right strategies and tools, it is possible to strike a balance between efficiency and quality. By streamlining processes, leveraging technology, enhancing agent training, and maintaining a focus on quality, companies can improve their AHT while delivering exceptional customer experiences. AptEdge is a powerful platform that can help companies achieve these goals by providing the tools and features needed to optimize AHT reduction and quality improvement efforts.

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