Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Reasons NOT to Focus on AHT

In my previous blog, I gave some of the reasons I believe that call centers who focus on lower the AHT don't really understand customers. I read a blog by Ann All that gave me some more ammunition regarding the value of long AHTs. There were also some very pertinent facts included in her blog that, I believe, are worth repeating.

1. A survey by Jonathan Whitaker, an Assistant Professor at the University of Richmonith and two of his colleagues studied offshoring and outsourcing activities of 150 U.S. companies from 1998 to 2006 and found that whether or not the company outsourced offshore or to domestic providers, there were similar declines in satisfaction. While this has little to do directly with AHT, it does demonstrate the possible benefit of keeping support calls within the company - as noted in the examples below.
2. Burroughs Payments Systems, a Michigan company found that when the company switched from offshore to employees with actual hands-on experience the customer satisfaction levels increased sharply. The conclusion given by CEO Alan Howard was that customers prefer to talk to people who know what they are talking about. Mr. Howard noted that Burroughs' cost savings is greater than 10 times what they could have achieved with offshore customer service.

Many customer satisfaction surveys of call center operations have indicated that first call resolution is a key to achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. According to Dick Hunter, Dell's former VP of global customer support services, during a September DataInfoCom webcast the average time of technical support call increased from 22 to 32 minutes but with that increase in AHT the percent of first call resolutions increased from 44 percent to 65 percent.

The bottom line is that AHT is not just another measure of call center performance, it is the place where loyalty begins in the call center. As I noted in my previous blog,"killing the call" should be the primary focus of the call center (unless all they are doing is selling).

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