Author Archives: Ashish Singla

Average Handle Time : Definition and Calculation

In call center language Average Handle Time is also known as AHT. Some organizations also use the term ACHT which stands for Average Call Handling Time. So Average Handle Time is the time that a call center executive takes to complete an interaction with a customer. In simpler terms AHT is the time from where the call center executive answers the call to the point where he finishes the call and fills the relevant documentation for that customer and is ready to attend the next call.

Formula to calculate Average Handle Time for a single call:

Handling Time = Talk Time + Hold Time + After Call Work Time

So Handling Time is the sum of Talk Time, Hold Time and After Call Work Time.

Let me explain the above mentioned terms:

Average Talk Time also known as ATT is the total time a call center executive is talking to a customer.

Average Hold Time is the time for which a call center executive puts the customer on hold by pressing the Hold key on his phone. Keep in mind that blank or dead air does not count as hold time, it is added to the talk time or ATT.

After Call Work Time also known as ACW is the time the call center executive spends to complete customer documentation or tagging into the CRM tool.

How to calculate AHT

The formula shared above holds good for a single call or interaction. Now if you have to calculate the Average Handle Time for an executive for a whole day the formula will be the sum of Handling time of all the calls of that executive for the day divided by the total calls answered by that executive. For example if Charles answered three calls in a day with the following durations:

Call 1 = 100 second

Call 2: 150 seconds

Call 3: 200 Seconds

Then AHT for Charles for the day will be (100+150+200)/3 which is 150 seconds

Another way to calculate the AHT is that you calculate Average Talk Time ATT of all calls that is sum of Talk Time of all calls divided by total answered calls,

Average Hold Time of all Calls and Average ACW of all calls and then add the three.

Another critical parameter that you would want to know is Call Center Service Level : Definition and Calculation

Grab your free excel template of daily performance report pre-loaded with Service level, AHT and other formulae in your mail by registering here


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8 Tips to get promotion in call center

If you want to make a career in call center, it is very important that you grow very fast. I was once told by my boss that there is no traffic jam a mile ahead. What she meant was call center has the maximum manpower as telecallers and once you rise from this level to team leader level the competition will reduce drastically. So, here are some tips which will help you get that promotion in call center:

  1. Know your job: This is the first and most important step to your growth. Know what are you doing in the organisation. What is your organisation doing. Have a complete knowledge of all products and services that your company is providing.
  2. Know your Key Performance Indicators: Key Performance Indicator or KPI are the values based on which your performance will be measured in your organisation. Ensure that you are aware about all these parameters and how are they calculated. If you have any doubts don’t hesitate to ask for clarity from your superiors. Some of the common parameters in a call center are
    • Average Handle Time
    • Sales or conversions
    • Call Quality
    • Customer Satisfaction Scores
  3. Make sure that you are on the top of the stack: Almost all call centers have a stack ranking for their employees to compare their performance. A stack ranking is simply putting all employee performance scores in a descending order based on their KPIs. This gives the management a clear idea about the top and bottom performers. So you will have to make sure that your performance is such that you are among the top 5% of employees.
  4. Learn from the master: If there is some parameter where you are struggling, approach someone who is doing well on it. Never feel shy in asking for help. I remember learning most of Microsoft excel formatting sitting with an executive when I was a team leader. Most people feel happy teaching others. You make thicker bonds with your peers and make them feel respected as an expert.
  5. Know your Boss’s job: This might sound a little odd but will be very useful. You need to know what is important for your Boss. In other words, what critical values is he or she looking at on a regular basis. If possible look at the reports that he or she is making and learn how to make them. Remember, this learning is over and above your own job. Hence, you might have to invest some extra time.
  6. Make sure your Boss’s Boss knows you: This in no way means that you show insubordination towards your manager. What I mean here is that your performance should be such that you are known to higher management. The way to do it is, firstly show good performance and secondly take extra responsibility.
  7. Plan your Leaves: This might sound very small but is very significant. One of the biggest trouble call center management faces is unplanned absenteeism. So, make sure you are not a part of this problem and hence perceived as non-serious.
  8. Know your Excel: One of the most important skill you will need to grow in a call center is working knowledge of spread sheets or Microsoft excel. Almost all reports and trends are captured and analysed in spread sheets. So a good knowledge of excel will go a long way.

So, best of luck. Remember, you can get a fast promotion in call center but you cannot get an easy promotion. You will have to put in some hard work initially to get out of the traffic jam.

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What is Call Center ?

First things first. The words “Call Center” and “Call Centre” mean the same. The difference is due to the difference in word usage in US and British English. In US English usage “center” is the standard form whereas in UK English usage “centre” is the standard.

A Call Center is that department in an organization which deals in interacting with customers mainly using voice or telephone. Call center services are used for different purposes. Following are some of those:

  • Customer Requests
  • Register customer complaints
  • Telemarketing
  • Technical support
  • Product information and support

Over the past few years, call center industry has become a specialized field. It is not longer simply answering a customer’s call. Call centers today work on high levels of efficiency to maintain low cost and hence more profit to the organization.
Since call center needs large manpower and specialized skills to handle calls, most organizations outsource this work to specialized companies. This is known as BPO or Business Process Outsourcing.
For example, a car manufacturer might not want to open and run a call center for its customers since that is not their speciality. So, they might outsource this work to a BPO which will share the customer feedback with the car manufacturer.

Types of Call Center

Based on the above activities call centers are divided into various types.

Inbound Call Center
An Inbound call center is where executives receive incoming calls from customers and resolve their queries. Most companies give out helpline phone numbers. When customers call up these numbers their calls land in an inbound call center.

Outbound Call Center
Outbound call center is where executives make outgoing calls to customers. Companies need to contact their existing or prospect customers for various reasons. For this purpose they engage the services of an outbound call center. Most of the telemarketing calls you receive are made from one of this kind.  Although primarily used for telemarketing, some other campaigns involve complaint resolution, customer satisfaction feedback, welcome calls, debt collection etc.

There are some other varieties of Call Centers listed by Wikipedia. Do Check them.

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Call Center Careers

When we talk about career in a call center, the first thing that comes to our mind is a telecaller. Call Center Careers go way beyond telecalling profiles. Although telecallers form majority manpower in a call center, there are a host of other profiles as well. These can be divided into two broad categories:

  1. Calling profiles
  2. Non-calling profiles


Calling Profiles

Calling profiles are those call center careers which involve making or receiving calls. In other words, this profile involves talking to customers over the telephone. You should choose a profile based on your temperament. The various options available are:

  • Telemarketing or Telesales: This profile involves selling a product to a customer over the phone. The targets are generally sales related. You will be required to make a certain number of quality sales over a day or over a month. If you have a flair for sales then this is a very good profile. Most companies give you a handsome amount in form of sales incentives.
  • Service telecalls: This profile generally relates to providing product related information and after sales service to the customers. Most job profiles in this category are inbound in nature. This profile involves less sales but you need to be well versed in product features. People with patient nature tend to do well in such profiles.
  • Relationship building telecalls: In this profile generally customers are given feel good type of calls to enhance their loyalty to the company. Payment reminder and membership renewal related calls also fall in this category. Companies look for people who are very polite and warm sounding to fill these profiles.
  • Retention telecalls: This profile relates to calling the existing customer who plan to discontinue their association with an organization. This profile requires you to be persuasive and very patient. You might need to deal with dissatisfied customers. Companies tend to give telecallers retention incentives as in case of sales in such profiles.
  • Technical telecalls: This profile relates to solving the technical problems of a customer. These calls involve troubleshooting for the customer over the phone. The job requires specialized knowledge. Companies usually employ engineers or subject matter experts for these profiles. Technical telecallers are generally paid better than non-technical telecallers.


Non-Calling Profiles

There are a number of profiles which fall under the category of non-call related call center careers. These act as support to main call center operations. Most companies, however,  require some prior call center experience to hire you in these profiles. Options in this category are as follows:

  • Trainer: All call centers hire trainers to train their new employees and retrain their existing staff. Some companies hire different trainers for Product training, Voice & Accent training and Technical training. Good communication skills and confidence to face an audience are the basic skills that an organization looks in a trainer.
  • Quality Analyst: All organizations place high importance on the quality of transaction with their customers. Customer satisfaction forms the backbone of service industry. In order to maintain this level of customer satisfaction, companies hire Quality Analysts. The job of a quality analyst is to audit the interactions of an executive with the customer. They compare it to set processes of the company and rate each interaction. Apart from audits in some organizations, a quality analyst is also expected to give feedback to executives. A keen eye for detail is a must for this profile.
  • Work Force Management: This is a very critical profile in any call center. This involves planning and forecasting of resources in a call center for optimum utilization. This profile requires good analytical, mathematical and logical bent of mind.
  • MIS and Reporting: This profile relates to maintaining and publishing all reports and trends in a call center. This is also a very critical profile as most decisions are made based on reports published by this department. Good analytical, mathematical skills and working knowledge of spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel) and Database management are a must for this profile.

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