Reduce Average Handle Time (AHT) in Call Center Operations

Call Center KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that are used to measure the performance of a call center. Some important call center KPIs include the average speed of answer, first call resolution rate, abandonment rate, average handle time, and customer satisfaction score. These KPIs provide important information about the efficiency and effectiveness of a call center, and can be used to identify areas for improvement and to monitor progress over time.

Call center metrics are useful in determining what agent training is required and who would benefit from it. KPIs can range from customer measurements like CSAT or NPS to efficiency metrics like AHT and FCR. Team members for both inbound and outbound call centers will have KPIs to meet, but it will differ as to which is the most important metric. Outbound selling operations for big ticket items may care less about call handling time than customer support, which is sometimes viewed more as a cost center.

Defining AHT

AHT, or average handle time, is a measure of the average amount of time it takes for a customer service representative to handle a customer inquiry or issue. It is often used as a performance metric for customer service teams, as a lower AHT can indicate more efficient and effective handling of customer inquiries. To calculate AHT, you would add up the total amount of time spent handling customer inquiries over a given period, and then divide that number by the total number of inquiries handled during that same period.

For example, if a customer service team handled 100 inquiries in a week and spent a total of 500 minutes on those inquiries, the team's AHT would be 500/100 = 5 minutes. Total handle time includes the total talk time for the phone call, total hold time, wrap-up and follow-up documentation and other after-call work (acw). Time not spent on specific customer tickets, such as onboarding, training or non-customer workflows is excluded from the AHT metric.

Reducing AHT

There are several ways that call centers can reduce their average handle time (AHT). Some of the most common methods include:

Overall, reducing AHT in a call center requires a combination of strategies and a focus on continuously improving processes and systems to ensure that calls are handled efficiently and effectively.


Automation tools can be used to reduce average handle time (AHT) in a call center. Some examples of automation tools that can help reduce AHT include:

Overall, automation tools can help reduce AHT by streamlining processes and making it easier for agents to handle customer inquiries quickly and efficiently.


The relationship between average handle time (AHT) and net promoter score (NPS) is complex and can vary depending on a number of factors. In general, however, a lower AHT is likely to be associated with a higher NPS. This is because shorter handle times can indicate that customers are receiving prompt and efficient service from the contact center, which can lead to increased satisfaction and a higher likelihood of them recommending the company to others.

The biggest complaints of customers calling into a support department are typically related to long wait times, poor-quality customer service, and a lack of resolution to their issue. Other negative customer interactions reports include being transferred to multiple agents, being unable to understand the agent, and being placed on hold for extended periods of time. Additionally, customers may be frustrated if they are unable to get the answers they need from the support department, or if they feel that their issue is not being taken seriously.

AHT Benchmarks

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the ideal average handle time (AHT) for a call center will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type of industry, the complexity of the issues handled by the call center, and the capabilities of the agents. Sources indicate a high AHT is over 10 minutes, and low AHT is under 3 minutes, with typical AHT between 6 to 8 minutes.

Agent productivity depends on the number of tasks they have for each call times the total number of calls. What is an average hold time across diverse industries is less important than establishing a baseline for an average call in your organization and then taking steps to improve efficiency off that baseline.

Determining what steps to date could mean analyzing call recordings and looking at how difficult it is for agents to retrieve customer data. Customer support improves with better knowledge management tools and means agents can resolve customer issues more quickly.

More Resources

Keep on learning...

  • Ebook
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about defending your organization from contact center identity-based attacks.

  • Infographic
  • Top tips to stop thiefs. Take 2 minutes to get the dirt on must-do security items.

  • Blog Post
  • Average Handle Time is universally tracked in contact centers. But what it is and why does it matter for contact center managers?
Discover how Confedy's pre-verification helps prevent social engineering and brute-force attacks while improving the customer experience and saving you money.
"Hi Loren. How can I help you?"

Schedule a demo