You've got a problem to solve.
Maybe your phone bill was unexpectedly high, or perhaps you want to change one of your pension funds. You dial the number for customer service, and are put through to a call agent in a contact centre. Are you interested in the Average Handling Time (AHT) of your call?
Probably not. Your customers are not monitoring and recording the AHT for all their calls – they do not track the Talk Time, Hold Time or Wrap-up Time and they are not interested in the impact of AHT on the success of your contact centre.
What they do want, however, is an efficient call. Efficiency in the mind of a customer is a dynamic and subjective metric which does not provide an easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage operations.
How can you reduce AHT whilst improving customer experience?
The most important operational impact of AHT is on resource planning, and this holds for any contact centre regardless of the channel. If your AHT increases then your costs will increase. If you can reduce AHT without sacrificing customer service or, even better, improving customer experience, then you'll see your profits soar.
New technologies don't improve conversations
There are a number of factors which can impact the AHT in a contact centre, some of which can be optimised with improved technology. However, a new expensive “multi-tenant global cloud contact centre and inside sales solution” or an “award-winning cloud workforce management application” will not optimise the actual conversation with the customer.
New technology can provide a significant improvement in the management of services for businesses. The service representatives will have a slick new interface which may speed up access to information for improved service delivery and call handling, however, the language used in the conversation with the customer is ignored.
The language your teams use has a significant impact on the way the customer engages with the information provided, which in turn impacts on AHT.
Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash
Using behavioural science to transform contact centre conversations
Optimising contact centre call scripts to embed behavioural science is delivering transformative results for many businesses.
A recent programme with a financial services business reduced AHT by 15%, resulting in an ROI of £16:1.
One of these behavioural economics tools is Authority bias, the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure. Customers need to understand that the person on the other end of the call, or web chat, has the authority and experience to deal with the issue confidently and efficiently.
We know that the System I brain responds to subconscious cues of expertise, such as their title or years of experience. Including these cues into the call script at strategic moments will help to improve the call efficiency.
A boon for regulated industries
This is especially relevant for businesses operating in complex regulated environments such as financial services. The expertise of service representatives can be undermined by the regulated requirement to emphasise the need for financial advice at key points on the call.
It is critical to be compliant, however, by following the clear FCA guidelines on the ethical use of behavioural economics in financial services. Compliant and ethical conversations can be designed which still provide a strong sense of authority of the service representative to the customer. This will contribute to lowering the AHT by ensuring more efficient conversations.
Make your conversations more human, and you'll improve AHT
Adopting new technology to provide an effective multi-channel customer experience is incredibly important and it will contribute to improving AHT, however, these significant investments will only deliver a part of the optimised customer experience your business is seeking.
The thousands of conversations your service representatives have with customers is where the real opportunity for improvement lies.
We've seen dramatic changes in large organisations, where the marginal gains of improving AHT by seconds can have significant operational benefits.
Get in touch with our team of behavioural scientists today to unlock these significant gains.