Many contact center professionals consider Average Handle Time (AHT) an important metric to measure.
Supervisors, managers and agents often work to decrease AHT as a way to improve efficiency, but are often unsuccessful for a number of reasons:
- Agents don’t always apply a proven process that streamlines interactions in a natural, effective and positive way. When they do use a process it’s often in the form of an awkward script they read word for word.
- Agents fail to make customer’s feel heard and valued. Customers will repeat themselves over and over, they’ll ask question after question when they are not comfortable with the service they are receiving.
- Agent’s may have poor communication skills. This leads to misunderstandings and extra time added to the call in order to explain the same point to a customer several times. For example, the root of a caller’s problem or situation may not be immediately understood because of an agent’s poor listening and questioning skills.
These reasons all point to a lack of effective communication skills and sub-par training, which leads to a lack of call control. Whether you’re a manager/supervisor or an agent trying to get AHT on track, let us share a secret with you; if you handle the customer and the call properly in the first place, AHT will take care of itself. The best contact center agents take control of their calls and take care of their customers by doing the following:
- Focusing on clear, effective communication. This includes asking great questions and actively listening.
- Acknowledging the customer to create a feeling of trust and lower their resistance. This comes naturally when an agent truly cares about helping the customer.
- Following a proven process that allows for freedom based on the particulars of the customer’s situation.
- Thoroughly understanding their company’s products and services.
Create a contact center culture that focuses on these best practices to decrease AHT and increase positive customer experiences. Instead of a rigid script, consider implementing what we call “freedom within a framework” where a call flow allows for flexibility to best serve the customer. This allows agents to address each customer and their particular situation as the unique interaction it is, but also provides guidelines and best practices so agents know they are executing to a high standard. For example, agents should begin each call with an Agenda Statement, which breaks down what the agent plans to discuss. It sets an open tone and clearly communicates what the customer can expect from the conversation. This simple technique removes the customer’s fear of the unknown and lowers resistance immediately – paving the way for a more productive interaction.
Creating a contact center culture that focuses on clear communication and “freedom within a framework” can’t happen overnight though. This requires planning and rigorous training and practice. This is where Consilio can help.
Consilio effectively and intensely trains agents on communication skills like acknowledging customers, voice tone, listening, questioning, summarizing customer issues, tailoring recommendations, and vocalizing customer success stories and competitive advantages. Many sales professionals claim they already know these Bedrock Sales Communication Tools skills, but we’ve learned that knowing what to do and actually being able to execute under pressure are two different things completely.
Our training programs close that gap. Our trainers and coaches rigorously work with agents to develop these skills while simultaneously creating a positive buying experience for their customers. We can also train your managers and supervisors to become more effective coaches. See for yourself how our approach can ensure that your company’s calls are resolved as quickly as possible with the customer feeling as good as possible about the experience.