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First Call Resolution vs. Average Handle Time

When first call resolution is the goal, instead of average handle time, call center managers find that customer satisfaction increases.

Average handle time is a call center metric that measures the average duration of one transaction. For many call centers, average handle time (known as AHT) is an extremely important metric. Call center managers constantly push and motivate their agents to ensure that the calls only last a certain amount of time, and recognize those agents whose average handle time is lowest. However, while it is important that customers don’t spend hours on the phone with an agent at a time, the average handle time metric should never come before most customers’ biggest concern: first contact resolution (FCR).

First call resolution measures the amount of agent-handled customer interactions that resolve a problem on the first point of contact. This metric is often the true insight to customer satisfaction, as commonly high percentages of first contact resolution directly correspond with high customer satisfaction. Repeat callers are commonly less satisfied with the service that they receive, and the calls generally take much longer, making the average handle time metric rise as well.

When call center managers put aside the average handle time, and instead take into consideration first call resolution, agents also find their jobs much easier. Rather than being concerned with how quickly they can get the customer off the phone, agents instead focus on making sure the customers receive the support that they need, and all of their questions are answered. It is pretty much guaranteed that each agent’s average handle time will increase by at least a few seconds, but both call volume and disgruntled customers should decrease.

For many call centers, average handle time is a hard metric to ignore. Most call center managers believe that average handle time is the only way to measure agent productivity and efficiency. While it can still be a factor that plays a part in agent monitoring, first call resolution should always come first. After all, contact centers are primarily intended to ensure customer satisfaction and to retain customers.

First Call Resolution References

David Wise

David Wise

Chief Executive Officer, Founder at AVOXI
David has more than 18 years of management experience in the telecommunications industry. A graduate of the Citadel, David worked as a Senior Account Executive with Intermedia Communications and later co-founded Rapid Link, a leading provider of International callback and VoIP. David then founded AVOXI in 2001with a focus on providing niche international call center markets with customized voice and data services. read more
David Wise
David Wise

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