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Average Handling Time = 0
by Doug McCullen

Preposterous. Of course it is.  Average Handling Time (AHT) has been the standard for measuring your contact centre’s performance since the oh so genuine “your call is important to us” phrase was invented.  It is mathematically impossible to achieve a state where your agents spend no time talking to customers, no matter how much coffee you force down their necks.

And yet here I sit, after making the stomach-churning decision to actually call my service provider to ask when their engineer will be arriving today so I can actually have a life.  I don’t want to spend 7.36 minutes talking to an agent, not to mention the 3.5 plus minutes of queuing time.

As a consumer/customer/occasional pain in the arse, I want AHT to be zero.

Why should I be put in a situation where I have to phone my service provider at all?  And for that matter, why should I be told to go to and look for an answer, or chat with one of our agents be them robotic, live or comatose?

You see, I have this device in my pocket that in addition to occasionally allowing me to conduct a conversation with someone before being cut off (I do really miss the Nokia 6310), but also (ahem, as with the 6310) allows me to receive texts and calls.

And you, the service provider whom I pay (mostly) hard-earned money to must actually know when that engineer is going to show up. Or when you’ve sent me a bill that you know I will have questions about. Or when that the network outage in my area has now been sorted and I should be up and running.  So isn’t it just common sense that you could be proactive, anticipate my questions during any stage of my relationship with you and actually initiate the conversation with a text, automated/IVR call, or message instead of forcing me to make that dreaded call that you are trying to avoid anyway?  And if I have a problem with an appointed time say, can’t you make it possible for me to reschedule without an agent needing to speak with me?

C’mon.  I know you can. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Just to be clear, I do like talking to people.  Just ask my wife, who tells me that I could have said what I needed to say in 1/10th of the time.  So call centres be warned: if I do call you and you have the misfortune to answer, I will be one of those AHT anomalies that you top and tail off in your reports. That’s not a threat. Really.  But regardless, please do consider that it’s probably best for both of us if you could be proactive, purposeful, and efficient in our future communications.  And simple is good … most of us are lazier than we care to admit.

Now back to the queue.  I think I’ve actually heard this song before …

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