Average Handling Time (AHT)

What Does it Mean?

Average handling time—or AHT—tracks how long it takes for a customer to complete their interaction with a call center, from the time they start the call until they hang up. The KPI includes talk time, hold time, and other idle time. The measure is often used to find ways to reduce costs by lowering AHT without sacrificing quality.


A Call Center Representative Efficiency Sisense Dashboard

Why Does it Matter?

Although shorter calls don’t always equate to better service, longer AHT can highlight a problem if customers are waiting too long or representatives are taking too much time resolving issues.

Longer calls are also often worse for costs, as they reduce the number of customers served and don’t significantly add to revenues. Even so, reducing AHT is usually tied into ensuring customers’ issues are resolved on the first call, and not split over many calls.

How Do You Measure the KPI?

The first step to tracking AHT successfully is measuring the total time spent on calls by consumers, including talking time, waiting time, and even wrap time (also known as after-call work time).

Once the total of these has been added, you can simply divide it by the number of calls handled during the period being measured. It’s worth noting that average handling time is not the same as average call duration, which only measures the time representatives spend on a call.

What Sources Would You Use to Measure the KPI?

To track AHT, you can aggregate data from customer service dashboards  that covers call time, post-call work, and most customer service interactions.

Give Me an Example…

Let’s say you’re trying to find ways to service more customers but can’t seem to find ways to do so without impacting quality. One of the useful things AHT can reveal is exactly where most of your callers are wasting time. It can also show you that time spent is either not necessarily agents’ faults, or even a bad thing.

For instance, many times AHT can be skewed higher by technical problems such as obsolete or slow computer systems, the need to manage multiple systems simultaneously, or even poor training procedures. Moreover, it could be a good sign, especially in cases where it highlights that agents are spending most of the AHT resolving customers’ issues.

What Benchmarks/Indicators Should I Use?

  • Average call time
  • Time spent on hold
  • Completed calls
  • Post-call work time

More Customer Service KPIs