Why reduction of silence periods is a goal and reduction of the Average Handling Time is not

Silence periods can have many functions in a conversation. However, usually, they are unpleasant, sometimes even awkward. It doesn’t matter if that relates to a personal one on one chat, during dinner with a friend or colleague or when you call into a contact center.

Silence Periods and VoiceAnalytics 

Most customers associate silence with the incompetence of an agent. True to that feeling, a large insurance company found that about 74% of silence periods were indeed associated with lack of knowledge. How did they find out? They ran every conversation through Xdroid’s VoiceAnalytics system, giving them a good grasp of which agents had the longest silence periods. They followed-up by starting to analyze what had been said just before the silence period. By doing so, they found specific issues on which their agent needed additional training. Specified training, according to the issues underlined by VoiceAnalytics, improved productivity by more than 20%. Also, customers became more appreciative about the service.

Another example found at an outsourcer; we discovered several irregularities with agents at the end of a call. Either through improper closing procedures or by agents keeping the line open. In some cases, the customer was not aware that the line was still open, and we could hear the customer talking in the distance.

Procedural guidelines state that the customer needs to hang up the phone, so agents kept the lines open for minutes. A good closing statement at the end of a call could have prevented this from happening. Xdroid’s VoiceAnalytics can verify compliance with such a procedure.

 

Silence Periods and Average Handling Time

We found that the bottom 10% of the agents had almost double the amount of silence periods compared to the top performers in this category; with outliers having more than 40% silence periods!

To finetune performance, the measurements on this can be much more granular then described above. By looking at silence periods in conversations, we can reveal many aspects of overall agent performance.

Sometimes the analytics of silence times and the reduction thereof is mistaken for a plea of reducing the average handling time (AHT). That is not the case. Even though silence reduction results in a lower AHT, AHT reduction in itself is a different story.  Reducing the silence period reduces the AHT and improves the quality of the conversation as we have discussed above. If you strive to reduce the AHT through other aspects, it should be with a similar goal in mind.

 

Average Handling Time and First Call Resolution 

For example; reducing AHT, without verifying if the customers’ problems are solved, results in a drop of your First Call Resolution (FCR). Consequently, a decline in your FCR results in a decrease in productivity. But also to a reduction in customer satisfaction. No customer likes to make an (unnecessary) repeat call to your customer service center, and no one wants to explain their situation again. And for the contact center manager, two calls of 6 minutes is more than one call of 8 minutes.

That means that you need to investigate this topic in a much more sophisticated way with Voice Analytics. One Telco organization defines FCR as “when the same customer does not make a second call to the contact center within five days.” This may sound right in the first instance. But what if that second call was about an internet problem and the first call about a TV. Or what about if the first call was about WiFi coverage and the second one was about an internet outage. Both deal with the Internet, but the first one has subtopic WiFi and the second one outage.

Now let’s also take a look at agent behavior. In this particular instance, an agent mentions to the customer; “Please try this solution for a week and call us back when the problem isn’t solved.”
The second call will not be counted against the FCR, while it actually should be.

 

VoiceAnalytics and Customer Service Excellence 

Analytics is based on high number statistics, and initial steps focusing on outlier management will yield great results and justify the investment.

Xdroid VoiceAnalytics can refine the quality of your operation to achieve customer service excellence. It requires careful thought over the programming of the system and integration with CRM data. It also means paying close attention to the implementation and the integration with your agents. Training and recommendations are crucial elements to succeed at this next level.

Xdroid VoiceAnalytics is state of the art software that propels your customer service to excellence.

 

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