Call Center Operations

Call Center Operations

Call Center Operations

Call Center Operations

AI-powered best practices to reduce average handle time in contact centers

AI-powered best practices to reduce average handle time in contact centers

AI-powered best practices to reduce average handle time in contact centers

AI-powered best practices to reduce average handle time in contact centers

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Mar 8, 2024

Mar 8, 2024

Mar 8, 2024

Mar 8, 2024

Every conversation in a contact center — from start to finish — holds helpful insights about the customer experience and service performance. This is why the amount of time spent on interactions is a key metric for ensuring the efficiency of your customer service. It's called average handle time (AHT).

In this post, discover how monitoring AHT helps you improve contact center performance. Explore the best practices powered by generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) to shorten your conversations without compromising high-quality service.

What is average handle time (AHT)?

As the name suggests, average handle time (AHT) is the average time an agent spends handling a customer interaction, including related tasks, such as follow-ups and documentation.

How to calculate average handle time 

The calculation of AHT involves adding up the entire talk time, from start to conclusion, the periods on hold, and the duration of post-call activities, known as after-call work time (ACW), and dividing the sum by the number of customer calls.

Here's the formula:

Average handle time calculation

Alt text: Average handle time calculation

When average handle time is instantly calculated after every interaction or ACW related to the conversation, you benefit from:

  • Real-time tracking: Agents can check rates after each conversation

  • Daily monitoring: Leaders evaluate team performance anytime

  • Deeper analysis: Analysts can monitor overall AHT or filter AHT specific to each agent

According to a survey by HubSpot, 84% of customer service representatives who use AI say it makes it easier to respond to tickets, and 64% mention it helps them personalize interactions.

What is a good average handle time? 

There's no exact number, as the ideal AHT balance lies between speed and quality. However, as an important metric for contact center productivity and cost-effectiveness, a desirable AHT should be as low as possible while maintaining high customer satisfaction (CSAT) and first-call resolution (FCR) rates. Both metrics help to drive a positive CX.

Why you need a lower ​​average handle time in your call center

Here are the main reasons why your day-to-day operations benefit from a reduced AHT:

  • Increased capacity and team efficiency: A report by McKinsey indicates that 61% of call center leaders reported a growth in total calls, with increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base. A lower AHT helps contact center agents handle high call volumes, boosting team efficiency and contributing to lower turnover.


  • Enhanced service quality with higher CSAT scores: Customers are more likely to view a service positively when issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. That's why lower AHT contributes to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Shorter interactions also increase customer likelihood to recommend the service to others, impacting your net promoter score (NPS) – a key indicator of service quality.


  • Reduced operating costs: Longer calls can lead to extended waiting times and potentially inefficient call routing. By lowering AHT, you address these bottlenecks, empowering leaders to optimize workflows and unlock cost-saving opportunities across the entire contact center.

How to reduce AHT: 5 AI-powered best practices

Gartner forecasts that conversational AI use in contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026. Leveraging AI to decrease your team's AHT is a great way to get started. After all, by increasing efficiency in customer interactions, you cut down costs along the way.

Follow these best practices:

  1. Deploy AI-native conversation intelligence solutions

Contact center analytics software helps you track AHT on every call, instantly tagging low-performance scores. By incorporating solutions powered by AI, you monitor service performance in real time with dashboards and data analysis reports, essential for managing the time you spend on calls.

Conversation intelligence software like Echo AI not only reviews every call but also provides AI-generated answers to questions like "why do customers churn?" These insights help your team regularly check if lower AHT is contributing to a decrease in churn rate.

  1. Analyze your calls and learn from customer sentiment

One of the best practices to reduce average handle time is to learn from successful cases of customer query resolution, high satisfaction scores, and positive sentiment. 

Echo AI, for example, transcribes and analyzes all your calls — checking spoken words and tone of voice to identify keywords, phrases, and sentiments that may provide clues to understand why the call duration was shorter or longer. For example, if your calls are dragging because of customers' frustration, your conversational intelligence solution can dig deeper to understand the reasons behind that. 

  1. Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks

There are repetitive and demanding tasks related to calls that take time for your staff to complete: call logging, data entry, interaction reviewing, and more. Map these activities in your workflow and equip your team with the best automated tools to reduce AHT.

For example, you can leverage AI to score your calls based on relevant metrics such as resolution rate or AHT. That means you can pick and choose where to manually review calls, saving you time. 

  1. Provide continuous feedback to agents

Do your agents struggle with adherence to scripts, have knowledge gaps, or even communication issues? All these challenges contribute to an increase in your AHT. The first step is to identify what is lacking in team coaching.

AI-powered contact center software classifies interactions, quickly showing top and bottom agent performers based on customer sentiment, resolution, and QA scores. A solution like Echo AI, for example, instantly identifies partially solved or unsolved calls, providing constructive AI feedback to optimize agent performance

Echo AI performance monitor

Improve AHT with Echo AI

Powered by gen AI, Echo AI monitors average handle time and deeply analyzes every call, providing valuable insights into your customers' issues and sentiments.

Echo AI call center analytics interface

Echo AI offers these AI-driven features to assist your call center in reducing AHT:

  • Various dashboards to consolidate all strategic metrics in one place

  • Reports generated by AI analyzing patterns and trends in your service

  • AHT for each channel, so you can analyze performance separately

  • Intelligent AI coaching to provide feedback to your customer support team

  • Risk detection to help predict problems and facilitate prompt action

  • Integrations with dozens of software options, for a comprehensive experience

Every conversation in a contact center — from start to finish — holds helpful insights about the customer experience and service performance. This is why the amount of time spent on interactions is a key metric for ensuring the efficiency of your customer service. It's called average handle time (AHT).

In this post, discover how monitoring AHT helps you improve contact center performance. Explore the best practices powered by generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) to shorten your conversations without compromising high-quality service.

What is average handle time (AHT)?

As the name suggests, average handle time (AHT) is the average time an agent spends handling a customer interaction, including related tasks, such as follow-ups and documentation.

How to calculate average handle time 

The calculation of AHT involves adding up the entire talk time, from start to conclusion, the periods on hold, and the duration of post-call activities, known as after-call work time (ACW), and dividing the sum by the number of customer calls.

Here's the formula:

Average handle time calculation

Alt text: Average handle time calculation

When average handle time is instantly calculated after every interaction or ACW related to the conversation, you benefit from:

  • Real-time tracking: Agents can check rates after each conversation

  • Daily monitoring: Leaders evaluate team performance anytime

  • Deeper analysis: Analysts can monitor overall AHT or filter AHT specific to each agent

According to a survey by HubSpot, 84% of customer service representatives who use AI say it makes it easier to respond to tickets, and 64% mention it helps them personalize interactions.

What is a good average handle time? 

There's no exact number, as the ideal AHT balance lies between speed and quality. However, as an important metric for contact center productivity and cost-effectiveness, a desirable AHT should be as low as possible while maintaining high customer satisfaction (CSAT) and first-call resolution (FCR) rates. Both metrics help to drive a positive CX.

Why you need a lower ​​average handle time in your call center

Here are the main reasons why your day-to-day operations benefit from a reduced AHT:

  • Increased capacity and team efficiency: A report by McKinsey indicates that 61% of call center leaders reported a growth in total calls, with increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base. A lower AHT helps contact center agents handle high call volumes, boosting team efficiency and contributing to lower turnover.


  • Enhanced service quality with higher CSAT scores: Customers are more likely to view a service positively when issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. That's why lower AHT contributes to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Shorter interactions also increase customer likelihood to recommend the service to others, impacting your net promoter score (NPS) – a key indicator of service quality.


  • Reduced operating costs: Longer calls can lead to extended waiting times and potentially inefficient call routing. By lowering AHT, you address these bottlenecks, empowering leaders to optimize workflows and unlock cost-saving opportunities across the entire contact center.

How to reduce AHT: 5 AI-powered best practices

Gartner forecasts that conversational AI use in contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026. Leveraging AI to decrease your team's AHT is a great way to get started. After all, by increasing efficiency in customer interactions, you cut down costs along the way.

Follow these best practices:

  1. Deploy AI-native conversation intelligence solutions

Contact center analytics software helps you track AHT on every call, instantly tagging low-performance scores. By incorporating solutions powered by AI, you monitor service performance in real time with dashboards and data analysis reports, essential for managing the time you spend on calls.

Conversation intelligence software like Echo AI not only reviews every call but also provides AI-generated answers to questions like "why do customers churn?" These insights help your team regularly check if lower AHT is contributing to a decrease in churn rate.

  1. Analyze your calls and learn from customer sentiment

One of the best practices to reduce average handle time is to learn from successful cases of customer query resolution, high satisfaction scores, and positive sentiment. 

Echo AI, for example, transcribes and analyzes all your calls — checking spoken words and tone of voice to identify keywords, phrases, and sentiments that may provide clues to understand why the call duration was shorter or longer. For example, if your calls are dragging because of customers' frustration, your conversational intelligence solution can dig deeper to understand the reasons behind that. 

  1. Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks

There are repetitive and demanding tasks related to calls that take time for your staff to complete: call logging, data entry, interaction reviewing, and more. Map these activities in your workflow and equip your team with the best automated tools to reduce AHT.

For example, you can leverage AI to score your calls based on relevant metrics such as resolution rate or AHT. That means you can pick and choose where to manually review calls, saving you time. 

  1. Provide continuous feedback to agents

Do your agents struggle with adherence to scripts, have knowledge gaps, or even communication issues? All these challenges contribute to an increase in your AHT. The first step is to identify what is lacking in team coaching.

AI-powered contact center software classifies interactions, quickly showing top and bottom agent performers based on customer sentiment, resolution, and QA scores. A solution like Echo AI, for example, instantly identifies partially solved or unsolved calls, providing constructive AI feedback to optimize agent performance

Echo AI performance monitor

Improve AHT with Echo AI

Powered by gen AI, Echo AI monitors average handle time and deeply analyzes every call, providing valuable insights into your customers' issues and sentiments.

Echo AI call center analytics interface

Echo AI offers these AI-driven features to assist your call center in reducing AHT:

  • Various dashboards to consolidate all strategic metrics in one place

  • Reports generated by AI analyzing patterns and trends in your service

  • AHT for each channel, so you can analyze performance separately

  • Intelligent AI coaching to provide feedback to your customer support team

  • Risk detection to help predict problems and facilitate prompt action

  • Integrations with dozens of software options, for a comprehensive experience

Every conversation in a contact center — from start to finish — holds helpful insights about the customer experience and service performance. This is why the amount of time spent on interactions is a key metric for ensuring the efficiency of your customer service. It's called average handle time (AHT).

In this post, discover how monitoring AHT helps you improve contact center performance. Explore the best practices powered by generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) to shorten your conversations without compromising high-quality service.

What is average handle time (AHT)?

As the name suggests, average handle time (AHT) is the average time an agent spends handling a customer interaction, including related tasks, such as follow-ups and documentation.

How to calculate average handle time 

The calculation of AHT involves adding up the entire talk time, from start to conclusion, the periods on hold, and the duration of post-call activities, known as after-call work time (ACW), and dividing the sum by the number of customer calls.

Here's the formula:

Average handle time calculation

Alt text: Average handle time calculation

When average handle time is instantly calculated after every interaction or ACW related to the conversation, you benefit from:

  • Real-time tracking: Agents can check rates after each conversation

  • Daily monitoring: Leaders evaluate team performance anytime

  • Deeper analysis: Analysts can monitor overall AHT or filter AHT specific to each agent

According to a survey by HubSpot, 84% of customer service representatives who use AI say it makes it easier to respond to tickets, and 64% mention it helps them personalize interactions.

What is a good average handle time? 

There's no exact number, as the ideal AHT balance lies between speed and quality. However, as an important metric for contact center productivity and cost-effectiveness, a desirable AHT should be as low as possible while maintaining high customer satisfaction (CSAT) and first-call resolution (FCR) rates. Both metrics help to drive a positive CX.

Why you need a lower ​​average handle time in your call center

Here are the main reasons why your day-to-day operations benefit from a reduced AHT:

  • Increased capacity and team efficiency: A report by McKinsey indicates that 61% of call center leaders reported a growth in total calls, with increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base. A lower AHT helps contact center agents handle high call volumes, boosting team efficiency and contributing to lower turnover.


  • Enhanced service quality with higher CSAT scores: Customers are more likely to view a service positively when issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. That's why lower AHT contributes to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Shorter interactions also increase customer likelihood to recommend the service to others, impacting your net promoter score (NPS) – a key indicator of service quality.


  • Reduced operating costs: Longer calls can lead to extended waiting times and potentially inefficient call routing. By lowering AHT, you address these bottlenecks, empowering leaders to optimize workflows and unlock cost-saving opportunities across the entire contact center.

How to reduce AHT: 5 AI-powered best practices

Gartner forecasts that conversational AI use in contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026. Leveraging AI to decrease your team's AHT is a great way to get started. After all, by increasing efficiency in customer interactions, you cut down costs along the way.

Follow these best practices:

  1. Deploy AI-native conversation intelligence solutions

Contact center analytics software helps you track AHT on every call, instantly tagging low-performance scores. By incorporating solutions powered by AI, you monitor service performance in real time with dashboards and data analysis reports, essential for managing the time you spend on calls.

Conversation intelligence software like Echo AI not only reviews every call but also provides AI-generated answers to questions like "why do customers churn?" These insights help your team regularly check if lower AHT is contributing to a decrease in churn rate.

  1. Analyze your calls and learn from customer sentiment

One of the best practices to reduce average handle time is to learn from successful cases of customer query resolution, high satisfaction scores, and positive sentiment. 

Echo AI, for example, transcribes and analyzes all your calls — checking spoken words and tone of voice to identify keywords, phrases, and sentiments that may provide clues to understand why the call duration was shorter or longer. For example, if your calls are dragging because of customers' frustration, your conversational intelligence solution can dig deeper to understand the reasons behind that. 

  1. Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks

There are repetitive and demanding tasks related to calls that take time for your staff to complete: call logging, data entry, interaction reviewing, and more. Map these activities in your workflow and equip your team with the best automated tools to reduce AHT.

For example, you can leverage AI to score your calls based on relevant metrics such as resolution rate or AHT. That means you can pick and choose where to manually review calls, saving you time. 

  1. Provide continuous feedback to agents

Do your agents struggle with adherence to scripts, have knowledge gaps, or even communication issues? All these challenges contribute to an increase in your AHT. The first step is to identify what is lacking in team coaching.

AI-powered contact center software classifies interactions, quickly showing top and bottom agent performers based on customer sentiment, resolution, and QA scores. A solution like Echo AI, for example, instantly identifies partially solved or unsolved calls, providing constructive AI feedback to optimize agent performance

Echo AI performance monitor

Improve AHT with Echo AI

Powered by gen AI, Echo AI monitors average handle time and deeply analyzes every call, providing valuable insights into your customers' issues and sentiments.

Echo AI call center analytics interface

Echo AI offers these AI-driven features to assist your call center in reducing AHT:

  • Various dashboards to consolidate all strategic metrics in one place

  • Reports generated by AI analyzing patterns and trends in your service

  • AHT for each channel, so you can analyze performance separately

  • Intelligent AI coaching to provide feedback to your customer support team

  • Risk detection to help predict problems and facilitate prompt action

  • Integrations with dozens of software options, for a comprehensive experience

Every conversation in a contact center — from start to finish — holds helpful insights about the customer experience and service performance. This is why the amount of time spent on interactions is a key metric for ensuring the efficiency of your customer service. It's called average handle time (AHT).

In this post, discover how monitoring AHT helps you improve contact center performance. Explore the best practices powered by generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) to shorten your conversations without compromising high-quality service.

What is average handle time (AHT)?

As the name suggests, average handle time (AHT) is the average time an agent spends handling a customer interaction, including related tasks, such as follow-ups and documentation.

How to calculate average handle time 

The calculation of AHT involves adding up the entire talk time, from start to conclusion, the periods on hold, and the duration of post-call activities, known as after-call work time (ACW), and dividing the sum by the number of customer calls.

Here's the formula:

Average handle time calculation

Alt text: Average handle time calculation

When average handle time is instantly calculated after every interaction or ACW related to the conversation, you benefit from:

  • Real-time tracking: Agents can check rates after each conversation

  • Daily monitoring: Leaders evaluate team performance anytime

  • Deeper analysis: Analysts can monitor overall AHT or filter AHT specific to each agent

According to a survey by HubSpot, 84% of customer service representatives who use AI say it makes it easier to respond to tickets, and 64% mention it helps them personalize interactions.

What is a good average handle time? 

There's no exact number, as the ideal AHT balance lies between speed and quality. However, as an important metric for contact center productivity and cost-effectiveness, a desirable AHT should be as low as possible while maintaining high customer satisfaction (CSAT) and first-call resolution (FCR) rates. Both metrics help to drive a positive CX.

Why you need a lower ​​average handle time in your call center

Here are the main reasons why your day-to-day operations benefit from a reduced AHT:

  • Increased capacity and team efficiency: A report by McKinsey indicates that 61% of call center leaders reported a growth in total calls, with increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base. A lower AHT helps contact center agents handle high call volumes, boosting team efficiency and contributing to lower turnover.


  • Enhanced service quality with higher CSAT scores: Customers are more likely to view a service positively when issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. That's why lower AHT contributes to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Shorter interactions also increase customer likelihood to recommend the service to others, impacting your net promoter score (NPS) – a key indicator of service quality.


  • Reduced operating costs: Longer calls can lead to extended waiting times and potentially inefficient call routing. By lowering AHT, you address these bottlenecks, empowering leaders to optimize workflows and unlock cost-saving opportunities across the entire contact center.

How to reduce AHT: 5 AI-powered best practices

Gartner forecasts that conversational AI use in contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026. Leveraging AI to decrease your team's AHT is a great way to get started. After all, by increasing efficiency in customer interactions, you cut down costs along the way.

Follow these best practices:

  1. Deploy AI-native conversation intelligence solutions

Contact center analytics software helps you track AHT on every call, instantly tagging low-performance scores. By incorporating solutions powered by AI, you monitor service performance in real time with dashboards and data analysis reports, essential for managing the time you spend on calls.

Conversation intelligence software like Echo AI not only reviews every call but also provides AI-generated answers to questions like "why do customers churn?" These insights help your team regularly check if lower AHT is contributing to a decrease in churn rate.

  1. Analyze your calls and learn from customer sentiment

One of the best practices to reduce average handle time is to learn from successful cases of customer query resolution, high satisfaction scores, and positive sentiment. 

Echo AI, for example, transcribes and analyzes all your calls — checking spoken words and tone of voice to identify keywords, phrases, and sentiments that may provide clues to understand why the call duration was shorter or longer. For example, if your calls are dragging because of customers' frustration, your conversational intelligence solution can dig deeper to understand the reasons behind that. 

  1. Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks

There are repetitive and demanding tasks related to calls that take time for your staff to complete: call logging, data entry, interaction reviewing, and more. Map these activities in your workflow and equip your team with the best automated tools to reduce AHT.

For example, you can leverage AI to score your calls based on relevant metrics such as resolution rate or AHT. That means you can pick and choose where to manually review calls, saving you time. 

  1. Provide continuous feedback to agents

Do your agents struggle with adherence to scripts, have knowledge gaps, or even communication issues? All these challenges contribute to an increase in your AHT. The first step is to identify what is lacking in team coaching.

AI-powered contact center software classifies interactions, quickly showing top and bottom agent performers based on customer sentiment, resolution, and QA scores. A solution like Echo AI, for example, instantly identifies partially solved or unsolved calls, providing constructive AI feedback to optimize agent performance

Echo AI performance monitor

Improve AHT with Echo AI

Powered by gen AI, Echo AI monitors average handle time and deeply analyzes every call, providing valuable insights into your customers' issues and sentiments.

Echo AI call center analytics interface

Echo AI offers these AI-driven features to assist your call center in reducing AHT:

  • Various dashboards to consolidate all strategic metrics in one place

  • Reports generated by AI analyzing patterns and trends in your service

  • AHT for each channel, so you can analyze performance separately

  • Intelligent AI coaching to provide feedback to your customer support team

  • Risk detection to help predict problems and facilitate prompt action

  • Integrations with dozens of software options, for a comprehensive experience