Call Length Does Not = Call Quality

Average Handle Time (AHT) or Average Call Time (ACT) are often used by call center managers as an important metric when evaluating Customer Service Representative (CSR) performance. It’s understandable why Call Center Managers gravitate towards this metric in their evaluations. Because executives and managers are constantly monitoring the cost per call and looking at budgets which breakdown in terms of cost per minute, it’s a natural temptation to want to drive CSRs to an AHT or ACT that links nicely to a budget. But the length of the call is not an indicator of service quality or the resulting customer satisfaction and loyalty. And confusing call time and call quality is short-sighted.

A World-Class customer experience can take a few seconds or it can take several minutes.
A terrible customer experience can take a few seconds or it can take several minutes.

Managers who constantly drive their centers to get AHT down will often save short-term money at the sacrifice of call quality, customer satisfaction, agent satisfaction while driving up costs associated with call-backs and low customer retention.

In the end, the customer’s and the call center’s goals are the same:

  • Resolve the issue in one phone call
  • Do it with courtesy and friendliness
  • Don’t take any more time than is necessary

When that happens, everyone wins.

Flickr photo courtesy of yoshimov

  7 comments for “Call Length Does Not = Call Quality

  1. August 24, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Good point Tom.
    And good to see you today!
    Keep creating,

  2. August 26, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Tom, I’m taking your three bullets with me next week when I visit our call center and plastering them on the wall. You do have a way of simplifying things! Well done.

  3. August 26, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Thanks, Starbucker! I hope the message gets through (It’s one of my biggest pet peeves with call centers). Let me know how it goes!

  4. Randy
    June 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I also will be posting your three bullets at the call center, But I use wish I could find some pointers on how to increase call quality and decrease length. Truly, my agents don’t need to know how the customers weekend went.

  5. October 23, 2007 at 1:25 am

    Are You Measuring the Right Thing?

    Does a company benefit more by saving 20 seconds on a call, or by winning a customer for life by taking extra time to create a satisfying experience? Thats one of the questions asked in this article about improving and…

  6. October 23, 2007 at 8:36 am

    AHT: Is less always more?

    Maria at points to an interesting post by Call Center expert Tom Vander Well who s…

  7. November 2, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Excellent post Tom! Even though it’s over a year old, it’s still as relevant as it was in 2006.

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