Lowering your average handling time (AHT) as a customer service agent can be challenging.
Some customers take a long time to get to the point. Others can’t describe their issue clearly in chat. Some need to vent.
Then you have the types of customers that leave such long gaps between replies you keep repeating, “Hello? Are you still with me?” while the handle timer continues ticking.
So how do you go from feeling frantic to efficient and in control?
Improving your AHT in seven easy steps
To improve your average handle time and wrap up customer issues quickly:
1. Collect all the information you can
Check available customer data in the internal system before you start the chat.
If you already know what your customer needs, be it from an interactive voice response system or chatbot, you can address the issue faster.
You also won’t need to make them repeat any information, which is something all customers – and agents – appreciate.
2. Get your greetings and closings right
Have a set of quick openers ready for varying customer moods or situations.
You should always know what to say to an angry customer instead of thinking it up on the spot.
Make sure your hellos and goodbyes are pleasant and short to be more efficient with time.
3. Create templates or scripts for efficiency
Prepared responses can offer customers quick and concise help.
It makes more sense to have a script for common questions than to compose unique replies every time.
For instance, if a new product feature confuses customers, an information template can help you handle such queries faster.
4. Bookmark internal knowledge resources
Don’t rely on your brain alone to store all the information you need to do your job. Instead, read through your product library thoroughly.
You need to know what and where everything is.
Bookmark important sections to find them easily later. Then you won’t spend time looking up answers when you’re in a live chat or call.
5. Web tools are your friends, use them!
Build a library of keyboard shortcuts, macros, links, and images to help you instantly add information when needed.
ProKeys on Google Chrome creates text snippets quickly while online image converters like OER extract text from screenshots and images.
Create a media bank with easy to understand screenshots or videos that can help users faster.
And feel free to get geeky with your system tools. Most interfaces let you create automated response templates to pull into your replies.
6. Design a set of troubleshooting questions
Have a structured flow of questions ready to ask users so you can troubleshoot accordingly and give you control over the chat.
A structured set of questions also saves the customer from coming up with their descriptions.
Use as many closed questions as possible, using yes or no answers for greater accuracy.
7. Write your call report during the call
When you do your After-Call Work (ACW) while still on the call, it helps your customer while lowering your AHT.
Since you’re noting down everything they raise, you’re more efficient in addressing all their issues thoroughly.
Don’t worry if you aren’t super fast at this at first. Stick with it, and you’ll get better with practice.
Perfect speed is being there
More efficiency and less effort is the secret to becoming a superior customer support agent.
Remember, reducing your handle time isn’t about cutting corners.
Your goal is to optimise all your processes to improve the customer experience. Strip them of lag, unnecessary procedures, and any nonessential element.
Work on your handling till you’ve got it down to an art.
When you reach your perfect speed, you’ll know it. And your customer will know it and appreciate it, too.
That’s what customer service is all about.