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AHT (Average Handle Time)

AHT is a vital metric used in various customer service environments, especially call centres and support centres. 


AHT abbreviation = average handling time 


Average handle time in a call centre is the average duration an agent spends on a customer interaction from start to finish. This only includes the time they were talking to the customer and not waiting, in after-call work, or on break.

It represents the average duration a call centre agent spends handling a customer interaction from start to finish. Essentially, it measures the total time it takes to address a customer query, resolve an issue, or complete a transaction.

From the customer's point of view, AHT is the time spent on the phone from the moment the call connects to an agent until it ends. 


Why Is AHT Important?

Average handle time is important for various reasons, from customer satisfaction to ensuring efficiency across the board.


Customer Satisfaction

Speed isn't everything - however, customers appreciate prompt service. AHT directly impacts customer satisfaction levels because shorter handling times usually mean less waiting and faster issue resolution.

It’s important to note, however, that although speed can be beneficial for the business, you should ensure that handlers are finding the balance between speed and quality customer service. 



Monitoring average handling times enables companies to assess the efficiency of their customer service operations. It can help companies to:

  • Analyse trends
  • Identify areas of improvement
  • Streamline processes
  • Optimise workflow
  • Allocate resources where needed 


This can ultimately reduce operational costs and increase overall productivity.


Resource Allocation

AHT can help managers to allocate staffing resources more efficiently. If they understand peak call times and average handling times, they can then ensure that an appropriate number of representatives are on hand to handle customer inquiries without causing excessive wait times or overloading agents.


Performance Management

AHT is often used as a key performance indicator (KPI) for call centre agents. Agents are typically expected to maintain average handling times within certain thresholds while still providing high-quality service. 

If an agent has unusually high AHT times, managers can then provide more training to the employee or uncover the causes of this. 

AHT will often be brought up in performance reviews or be used in incentives, motivating employees to work efficiently while maintaining customer satisfaction. 


How Do I Calculate Average Handle Time?

Here are some average handling time formulas you can use to compute the average handle time for phone call agents, email agents, and live-chat agents:


For Calls 

For phone calls, the AHT can consider both the call handling time as well as follow-up times. Some companies will consider after-call work in this, but others won’t. 

A basic calculation for average call handling times is talk + hold + follow-up times divided by the total number of calls. 


For Emails 

For emails, the AHT only involves the time spent conversing with customers - so to calculate it, simply divide the total time conversing with customers by the total number of emails. 


For Live Chat

Calculating average handling time for live chat is simply - simply divide the total handle time by the total number of chats. 


Example of AHT

Step 1: Gather data - collect data on all inbound calls received on a certain date 


Step 2: Calculate the total handling time - for each call, record the time spent on the call by the representative, including talk time, hold time, and any after-call work.

For simplicity, let's assume the total handling time for all calls combined is 5000 minutes (or 83.33 hours).


Step 3: Count the number of interactions: Determine the total number of inbound calls received on that date. Let's say the total number of inbound calls handled is 100.


Step 4: Divide Total Handling Time by Number of Interactions: Use the formula to calculate AHT - the total handling time is divided by the number of interactions. In this case, it would be: 

5000 minutes divided by 100 calls. This means the AHT would be 50 minutes. 


What Do I Do When I’ve Calculated AHT?

Once you have calculated AHT, interpret the results whilst considering your organisation's goals and benchmarks. 

Compare AHT against historical data, industry standards, and internal targets to assess performance and identify areas for improvement.


What is a Good Average Handle Time? 

This depends entirely on your industry, the type of call, and the issue being handled. For example, if you’re dealing with banking enquiries, calls can vary from simple balance enquiries that last under a minute, to more complex calls such as missing funds or complaints that can last for over an hour. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but a good AHT should be low whilst still providing good customer service and resolving the issue.  

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