What Is Average Handle Time And Why Is It Important To Track?

Average handle time is the length of time if takes for a support agent to answer a call or email. Here's why it's such a crucial CX metric.
Published on: Oct 31, 2022
Last updated: Nov 10, 2023

TL:DR

  • AHT measures the average length of time it takes a representative to answer a call, chat, or email.
  • It’s usually calculated based on the time from when the agent receives the ticket until when the agent closes out the ticket. 
  • It’s a crucial metric to track because it measures the efficiency of your customer service team.
  • It can directly impact customer satisfaction scores — the quicker issues are resolved, the happier customers are.
  • If you’re using a ticket management tool, it’s likely that it offers metrics for average handle time, response time, and ticket resolution times.
  • We've already covered other important CX metrics, so read that article to see which others you should be tracking.

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Average handle time (AHT) is an essential metric for customer service performance. It measures the average length of time it takes a representative to answer a call, chat, or email. Knowing your AHT can help you identify problem areas in your company's customer service processes and take steps to improve performance. 

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about average handle time so that you can implement this important metric in your own business.

What Is Average Handle Time?

Average handle time (AHT) is the average amount of time it takes for a customer service representative to respond to a ticket or a customer. It’s usually calculated based on the time from when the agent receives the ticket until when the agent closes out the ticket. 

AHT is a company-driven metric that provides insight into how efficiently your customer service representatives are working and how far behind they are. This information can be helpful for determining where to prioritize improvements to your customer service process. 

Why is AHT Important?

As mentioned, AHT is the average amount of time it takes a representative to respond to an inquiry or ticket.

It’s a crucial metric to track because it measures the efficiency of your customer service team. It indicates how quickly representatives are responding to customers and how long tickets are taking to be resolved. This information can be used to identify areas that need improvement. 

The better your team is at responding to customers, the more satisfied your customers will be. When tickets are resolved quickly, customers are likely to have a positive experience and be satisfied with their experience. Conversely, if your team is taking too long to resolve tickets, customers are more likely to be dissatisfied with their experience as well as your brand.

How to calculate AHT?

Calculating AHT for a phone channel

To calculate the Average Handle Time (AHT) for a phone channel, you need to add:

  • the total time spent talking
  • the total time on hold
  • the total follow-up time

Then, divide this sum by the total number of calls.

The formula is:

AHT = (Total Talk Time + Total Hold Time + Total Follow-Up Time) / Total Number of Calls

For instance, if over a period you have 500 minutes of talk time, 200 minutes of hold time, and 100 minutes of follow-up time over 50 calls, your AHT would be (500 + 200 + 100) / 50 = 16 minutes per call.

Calculating AHT for chat

For chat, the procedure is similar but the components differ slightly. Add the total chat time and the total follow-up time together, then divide by the total number of chats. The formula is:

AHT = (Total Chat Time + Total Follow-Up Time) / Total Number of Chats

If you have 400 minutes of chat time and 100 minutes of follow-up time over 100 chats, your AHT would be (400 + 100) / 100 = 5 minutes per chat.

Calculating AHT for web and email tickets

For web and email tickets, sum up the total time spent on each case, then divide by the total number of cases. The formula is:

AHT = Total Time Spent on Cases / Total Number of Cases

For example, if you spend 600 minutes on cases and have 50 cases, your AHT would be 600 / 50 = 12 minutes per case.

How to Track AHT?

AHT can be tracked in many ways, depending on the tool you’re using to record tickets and handle customer inquiries. If you’re using a ticket management tool, it’s likely that it offers metrics for average handle time, response time, and ticket resolution times.

It’s important to track all three of these metrics to get the full picture of how efficiently your team is responding to customers. If any of these metrics indicate slow resolution times, then you may need to overhaul your customer service processes, so that your customers can get the help they need before they have a bad impression of your company. 

Conclusion

Average handle time is an important metric to track because it indicates how quickly your team is responding to tickets, and how long tickets are taking to be resolved. This information can be used to identify areas that need improvement. When your team is responding quickly to tickets and resolving them efficiently, customers are much more likely to be satisfied with their experience.

Author

Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager

Contributor

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