Female Customer Service Professional In A Call Center

What Is Average Handle Time?

Average handle time is a metric for the average length of contact that a Customer Service Professional has with someone who has initiated communication with a contact center. It is one of the most commonly analyzed KPIs in the call center industry and frequently assessed when measuring efficiency.

Average Handle Time is typically calculated using the following formula:


Average Handle Time =

(Total Talk/Live Time + Total Hold Time + Total After Call/Communication Work)
Number of Calls/Communications Handled

As you can see based on the equation above, the more communications a contact center worker handles and the less time he or she spends on each client interaction, the lower his or her Average Handle Time will be.  Regardless of how your contact center or answering service bills you (Pay As You Go or Flat Rate), the amount of time that a call center representative spends taking actions on your account or interacting with your customers is something that affects the cost of using the service.  So, as a business owner that’s using a contact center or answering service, you might think that a lower Average Handle Time is in your best interest because it keeps your monthly bill lower, right?  Maybe not.

While it is important that call center representatives act quickly and handle each interaction promptly so that your business isn’t charged for excessive call times or overage fees (whichever applies to your billing method), it is just as important that your customers are handled in a professional and effective manner.  Expecting or wanting call center workers to rush through interactions with your clients is a mistake.  Consider these situations:

  • If someone calls your business and feels rushed through the experience, then do you think that customer will report that they’ve had a positive experience with your business?  Probably not. If your answering service is rushing through phone calls and not truly listening to your callers, the service is actually doing you a disservice.
  • If someone emails your business and the call center worker who received the email decides to respond with a canned response that truly doesn’t help your customer (but keeps Average Handle Time down) then not only is it likely to upset your customer, but then additional communications (including emails, phone calls, etc.) may occur; in which case, not taking the time to properly answer the initial email actually results in the contact center spending more time on handling an issue that could’ve been resolved in one touch.

These are just a few examples of how rushing call center professionals through interactions with your customers can produce undesirable results.

Therefore, it’s worth considering that focusing on Average Handle Time as the only or most important metric in a contact center might not make the most sense.  Instead, choose a service that allows you unrestricted access to call recordings and transcripts of any interactions call center workers have had with your customers, so that you can review interactions at your discretion and verify that your customers are being taken care of in a proper manner.