Beyond AHT

Reframing the Customer Experience for Lasting Impact

Why AHT is no longer the “right” metric

In today’s customer-centric environment, businesses must constantly evolve to meet and exceed customer expectations. The traditional focus on metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) stems from an era when efficiency was paramount, but with the rise of the experience economy, depth of engagement and the richness of interaction have taken center stage. While AHT can provide insights into operational aspects, it no longer captures the holistic essence of customer interaction.

When AHT becomes the primary metric, businesses run the risk of pushing their agents to rush through calls. But in a world where loyalty is built on meaningful connections, rushing can deter genuine conversations. We must understand that while customers don’t wish to be on long calls, they also don’t want to feel rushed. They yearn for effective resolutions, meaningful interactions, and the sense that the person on the other end genuinely cares. By over-prioritizing AHT, we may inadvertently diminish these valued interactions, leading to frustrated customers and demotivated agents.

In addition, an undue emphasis on AHT can inadvertently mask deeper operational issues. By pressuring agents to cut corners to meet strict time limits, we ignore potential process improvements that could benefit both the agent and the customer.

The better approach

Instead of simply reducing handle time, our strategy pivots towards enhancing the entire customer journey. Our goal? Address the pain points in both customer and agent experiences.

Certainly, customers appreciate quick service, but they also seek effortless resolutions. They desire prompt solutions without undue exertion on their part. By deploying time and motion studies, we’ve pinpointed and addressed previously hidden challenges in the customer interaction process. This not only augments the customer and agent experience but also naturally diminishes handle time.

The Methodology: Time and Motion Studies

A foundational tool we employ to illuminate the customer journey’s intricacies is the time and motion study. But what exactly is it? At its core, a time and motion study delves deep into interactions—especially the long, high-frequency ones—by meticulously tracking time stamps around diverse activity categories throughout these interactions. This meticulous approach allows us to unearth previously hidden or overlooked challenges in the customer interaction sequence. Addressing these challenges invariably leads to a significantly enhanced experience for both customers and agents. While the process does demand effort, it’s a labor that reaps immense rewards—chief among them is the often-resultant reduction in handle time. The efficacy of this method cannot be overstated: the revelations it offers often act as pivotal turning points in restructuring the entire customer interaction paradigm.

With this methodology in place, let’s delve into its real-world implications.

For instance, with a telecommunications company, our study unveiled challenges agents faced when liaising with their tier-two support teams. By introducing targeted training and revamping certain escalation protocols, we elevated the customer experience, reduced agent stress, and cut down AHT by a significant six minutes.

In another scenario, an electronics manufacturing company benefited immensely from our study. We identified that forcing product registrations during each call added unnecessary layers of complexity. By eliminating this step, we not only uplifted the customer and agent experience but also reduced AHT by a substantial one and a half minutes.


Driving AHT down without focusing on the quality of interactions is counterproductive. In contrast, when we emphasize the quality of each touchpoint, metrics like first contact resolution, customer satisfaction scores, and overall quality indicators guide our strategy. This nuanced approach ensures that the experience isn’t just fast – it’s also meaningful and satisfying. By identifying and addressing underlying challenges, everyone emerges as a winner. The future lies in reshaping customer experiences, and we’re at the forefront of this transformation.

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