NPS Blog

At call centers, a better measure of success

The traditional measure of success at many call centers is the average handling time (AHT), the amount of time it takes for an employee to address a customer’s problem.

A short AHT quantifies how quickly the employee handled the issue, but it doesn’t tell you much about the quality of the customer’s experience. In fact, a low AHT could mean that a caller was rushed or didn’t get a satisfactory solution. What good is a low AHT if the customer has to call back again about the same issue. Or worse, never calls back at all because they’ve moved their business elsewhere?

Companies such as the Australian bank Westpac are taking a broader approach by factoring Net Promoter® scores into their customer service analyses. But that requires some counterintuitive thinking. To build customer loyalty and raise Net Promoter scores, call center reps might need to spend more time with customers on the phone.

Westpac still tracks AHT, but the bank has made Net Promoter scores its paramount measure and defines service quality, not sales targets, as the focus for call center employees. After all, loyal customers will bring in more revenue.

Managers at a telecom company with large call centers found that when employees spent more time with callers, customers were more satisfied and made fewer follow-up calls. Per-call costs remained the same, but the customer experience was more positive.

There’s no need to completely do away with tried-and-true measures, such as AHT, but a customer-first approach to analysis might help your company reach its goals faster.


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