What is Average Handle Time and How to Reduce it?

What is Average Handle Time and How to Reduce it?

Average Handle Time is a key factor in how your call center plays a part in the success or failure of your support people.

If you’re doing everything right on the first contact, there is no reason for the customer to call back.

But if you don’t get it right either by having long hold times, poor wait times, or by giving them their answer over the phone instead of sending them an email, they will call back.

This is why every agent and their manager should be aware of this metric.

In this post we will go over what average handle time is, why you should pay attention to it and some tips on how you can reduce your average handle time.

What is average handle time?

Average handle time, or AHT, is the average time taken to handle a call from start to finish which  includes hold time, talk time and any related tasks that the agent had to perform post the call.

In order to calculate AHT, you need to add total time taken + total hold time + total post-call tasks and then divide by the total number of calls.

AHT helps you to understand how efficient your agents are or call center is while handling calls. You can use this metric to establish performance metrics as well.

Why is average handle time important?

Why is average handle time important?

Solving customers issues efficiently and effectively helps you gain customers’ loyalty.

That’s why average handle time is an essential metric because it helps you understand how quickly agents are solving customer issues.

Also, reducing your AHT means productivity. It shows that your agents are performing better and the customers are getting their queries solved quickly.

This improves the overall customer experience.

What is “good” average handle time? 

There cannot be a defined “good” average handle time because for every organization, the average handle time differs.

Average handle time depends upon the structure of the organization, the products/services they offer and what a company thinks is a good customer experience.

With AHT, you are trying to accomplish the following:

1. quickly solve customer issues

2. do not make customers hold for too long

3. handling more calls on a daily basis

4. Improving customer satisfaction

But remember that solving customer issues quickly should not come at the expense of the customer being dissatisfied with your response.

So, always aim to resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

Tips to reduce average handle time:

Tips to reduce average handle time

1. Agent Training

Agents are responsible for handling common issues. So, you need to make sure that agents are well-trained to handle customer issues.

Proper and comprehensive training of agents will make sure that average handle time is reduced. 

Agents need to be well-versed with call center software, CRM, business tools, computer and headset, helpdesk, etc.

They also know about the policies and procedures and should be able to handle issues in a timely and effective manner.

2. Record calls to monitor agent performance

Call centers should record agents’ calls to understand how agents performed during the calls.

It helps to identify inefficiencies and problems that arise during the course of the call and also find out areas where there is a need for improvement. 

Also, you will understand how customers react after a long wait on the call, how they engage during the call and how customer experience as a whole was.

You can use conversation intelligence software like Enthu.ai, that records every call and provides you insights without listening to a single call.

3. Optimize call routing

Call centers must have a defined system in which agents know the right agent to whom they have to route calls.

When you transfer calls to wrong agents it only leads to excessive hold times, i.e, loss of valuable time of the customers. It only deteriorates customer experience. 

Proper call routing ensures that agents are connected to the right agents in the first attempt itself and it also ensures reducing average handle time.

4. Optimize internal communications

Agents should be able to communicate with other agents easily. Avoid using slow email communications or having a third party app to communicate with fellow agents.

Call centers must enable internal agent chat systems for effective internal communications and this will result in higher customer satisfaction.

5. Streamline processes

Streamlining agent workforce and processes is a great way to reduce average handle time. 

You must monitor the tasks that agents are doing and eliminate any task that is contributing to increase in average handle time. 

Agents must perform only those work that cannot be performed by anyone else. All other work should be automated so that the team can be best at what they do.

6. Monitor agent performance

Performance of the agents must be monitored on a regular basis. 

One of the ways to monitor agent performance is by using call center software with call monitoring features. 

The software will help you listen to live calls without agent knowing and conference in to talk with both agents and customers between the calls.

This is important for training purposes and also improves metrics such as call transfers, escalated calls and hold time.

7. Build a knowledge base

Building a knowledge base can help agents to acquire knowledge that they want in an instant.

It helps them to solve customer issues quickly without making customers wait for long.

Hence, it increases customer satisfaction and decreases handle time.


Average handle time is an essential metric when it comes to understanding customer experience.

Aim to reduce average handle time because not only it improves customer satisfaction but also it leads to reduced costs.

But you should also remember that solving customer issues quickly should not leave the customers dissatisfied.

Therefore, resolving customer issues efficiently and effectively should be your goal.


How to calculate average talk time?

Calculating average talk time is not that hard, especially if you know how to use a calculator.

Just look at the number of calls you make and divide that number by the time period you are looking at to get average talk time.

Average Talk Time Formula

The formula for average talk time is: add your total talk time + total hold time + total after-call tasks, and then divide by the number of total calls. That is your average handle time.

How can I improve my call handling time?

Call handling time is something that can always improve.

It’s a statistic that is easy to measure and a great one to run your customers through.

All you need to do is decide what you want the average handle time to be and check every so often to see how you are doing against it.

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