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March 23rd, 2017

Spend more phone time resolving customer issues

Should average handle times (AHT) be a measurement for improving customer service? We all know less phone time means lower call center costs, but cost efficiency isn't always in the best interest of your customers.

In the banking industry, speed is important, and contact centers are constantly striving to be more efficient. However, the recent article, “Call Length Is the Worse Way to Measure Customer Services,” argues that AHT should not be used to assess performance on complex issues that require more time to resolve. Focusing on AHT not only frustrates customers who feel rushed, it also sends a conflicting message that your bank is more focused on saving money than serving their customers.

The truth is, banking institutions are always looking for ways to reduce costs, and lowering AHT is often viewed as a key part in doing that. But it should never come at the expense of your customers. 

When it comes to improving customer service over the telephone channel, automated caller authentication doesn't focus on lowering call times, it's designed to instantly identify callers earlier in the customer journey. Identifying callers upstream removes the need for knowledge-based authentication (KBA) methods to verify callers over the phone. When telephone interrogations are removed from the conversation, it inherently reduces the time your agents spend on the phone. Even more important is when you identify customers before the call is answered, you create more quality interactions with your customers that allow your agents to immediately address customers’ problems without adding costly seconds or minutes to each call due to lengthy identity-interrogations. 

With automated caller authentication tools like the TRUSTID® Physical Caller Authentication, the focus is not on lowering AHTs or treating your customers like numbers. It's about giving your call center agents more time to properly fix customer issues. Addressing customer problems just happens to take place in the first few minutes of the call, rather than a minute or two minutes in. 

For example, if your contact center’s AHT is between six to eight minutes per call, you don’t want your agents spending up to a minute or two asking customers a bunch of security questions. That takes valuable minutes away from resolving their issues. 

Proactively verifying good customers before they get routed to an operator allows a bank agents to bypass the identity-interrogation process because they've already been verified pre-call. When your agents can start addressing your customers’ needs the moment they pick up the phone, it increases the percentage of phone time they spend on resolving problems. And that's a good thing for your bank and customers. 

So, while automated caller authentication can help lower AHT -- even when resolving complex issues that take more time to fix -- the focus remains on resolving your customers’ issues and providing a better overall banking experience for them.

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