CallTalk Caramels: How to Minimize After Call Work Time

April 9, 2014 – 9:00am

CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore.  “Caramels” distills key moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.

After call work time (ACWT) is a component of call handle time that deserves managerial attention. It usually involves completing the customer record before taking the next call. This is normally done via electronic systems, but may, in some centers, include paper-based documentation and fax transactions.  BenchmarkPortal research shows that the majority of centers use customer relationship management systems (CRMS) for call documentation during and after the call. These systems often include automated call record keeping and pre-formatted text – allowing agents to copy and paste call records, or use hot-keys and codes to assist in the documentation of caller interactions. CRMS offer one of the highest ROIs for contact center investments.

Regardless of approach used, controlling ACWT remains a vexing issue for many call center managers. Of call centers polled, 92% claimed a need to complete call documentation after the call ended; less than 8% were able to complete necessary documentation during all calls, while the balance (1% – 2%) handled calls that did not require documentation (e.g. location finding, etc.). However, only 70% of those polled track the amount of after call work time on a continuing basis. The remaining 30% either do not track ACWT or do so on a non-continuous basis. In addition to this, 66% of the centers polled do not preload, or set a fixed limit on ACWT. When fixed times are applied, it is imperative that agents have the tools, skills, and training to complete all call documentation during the specified time. Moreover, agents must be monitored to assure that this time is being used appropriately and that documentation is not continued during the following call.

While there is no “one size fits all” solution, the following practices have been found to be effective in efforts to reduce ACWT for many centers:

  1. Screen for typing speed and accuracy as part of the initial hiring process.
  2. Use call monitoring to determine those factors contributing to ACWT.
  3. Provide agent training and coaching on tools and to increase skills – either by group or individually.
  4. Assure that the agents have the proper and necessary tools for rapid call documentation
  5. Include ACWT in computing incentives for high performers: shift preference, recognition, gifts, and monetary rewards.
  6. Technology – make sure that agents are properly using ACWT codes and that ACWT is not being used when AUX Time is appropriate.
  7. Discover Best Practices tips and tricks used by your agents, and train all others to do likewise.

With an all-industry average of 2.5 minutes for ACWT, it is important that centers understand the components of ACWT in order to initiate effective measures for its reduction. Benchmark your metric against your own industry average and see how you compare; an elevated ACWT always should be investigated and addressed.

Tip of the Week: Compute the monetary value of 1-second of call handling time for your center.  Then see how many seconds can be reduced by acting to minimize call handling time – – while still maintaining high quality.

CallTalk™ Caramels: Sweet Snippets from BenchmarkPortal’s Best CallTalk Episodes
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb.  It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with John Chatterley,entitled “After Call Work Time: How To Minimize and Still Have Great Customer Records”.  To listen to the archived episode click play below.

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