What is AHT? A Complete Guide to Average Handle Time

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Whether it’s in life or business, time is the most valuable thing, and if you are related to a call center, you might know how even a second matters—no customers like waiting to solve their problems.


The less time you take to solve an issue, the more your customer gets satisfied. A lower average handle time means a better quality experience for your customers.

What Is The Average Handle Time?

Average Handle Time (AHT) is a customer service metric that calculates the average time a customer service representative spends handling a customer’s calls to resolve their problem. Customer handling time begins when a customer initiates talking to you and ends once you solve the customer’s problem.


AHT’s key performance indicator (KPI) covers the number of calls handled, total talk time, hold time, transfers, follow-up times, and after-call work time (ACW) to resolve customer issues. It helps you determine the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization to enhance customer experience.

How To Measure AHT?

To measure the average handle time, you must gather a few data points, including talk time, hold time, after-call work time, and follow-up times.

You use the following formulas to calculate the average handle time on different communication channels: calls, email, and live chats.

  • Call AHT Formula:

    AHT = (talk time + hold time + follow-up times + after-call work time) / total number of calls

  • Email AHT Formula:
    AHT = (total conversing time with customers + wait times) / total number of emails
  • Live Chat AHT Formula:
    AHT = total handle time / total number of chats

Why is AHT Important in Customer Service?

Average handling time (AHT) is important to improve the customer experience by reducing wait times, enhancing the customer experience, and increasing agent efficiency.


This Key Performance Indicator (KPI) helps control operational costs via well-organized resource utilization. This metric emphasizes the need for professional agents skilled in communication and problem-solving to ensure the balance between speed and quality.


Your call center software tracks an average handle time and offers heads or supervision to overview and analyze support performance. This helps meet customer service expectations and identify areas for improvement.


Moreover, AHT data’s history also offers business prediction in customer service. Grasping the average length of calls and turnover rates easily helps call centers to roughly calculate staffing needs and capacity planning.

What is a Good Average Handle Time?

According to industry standards, a good average handle time is normally around 6 minutes.

A good average handle time often depends on an industry average, so no exact average handle time applies to all call centers.

Factors Affecting Average Handle Time

The average handle time depends on various factors, including industry, call type, customer experience, support channels, agent performance, simple queries, and technical support complications.


A call center quickly resolves a customer's issues if they are average or below average. 
On the other hand, an industry takes a little more time to resolve customer issues if they are higher than average.


Customer service centers must provide quality service to their customers to have a good average handle time.


Therefore, a good AHT should be as low as possible, and for that, call centers must set realistic targets depending on their customers' needs and available resources.


There are numerous factors affecting average handle time, and they are listed below:

  1. Long Call Scripts
    A call center providing long call scripts, such as long opening/closing statements, creating empathy bonds, and clarifying statements, increases average handle time.
  2. Pointless Probing
    Customers always want an agent to enquire about the problem they are experiencing, and asking irrelevant questions is another factor affecting AHT.
  3. Repetition of Queries
    If customers do not get the proper information, they will repeat their queries and increase the call duration, automatically increasing the average handle time.
  4. Transfer & Hold Time
    Agents asking customers to hold when needed to reach out to their supervisors and transferring the customers to another department also affect average handle time.
  5. Search Time On Systems
    Agents taking time to search their data on systems is also a major factor affecting average handle time (AHT).

Average Handle Time (AHT) vs First Call Resolution (FCR)

As a call center, Quality Assurance (QA) metrics, Average Handling Time (AHT), and First Call Resolution (FCR) are often assumed to be the same but are different. While FCR is the ability of client support to solve a case at once, AHT is the overall time occupied for solving their users' problems.


Average Handling Time (AHT)

First Call Resolution (FCR)

AHT increases revenue by improving the productivity level of the call center agents and smoothing the overall process.

CR increases customer and agent satisfaction and reduces costs.

AHT  is calculated by using the formula:

AHT  =  (talk time + hold time + Follow-up and after-call work time) / total number of calls.

FCR is calculated by using the formula:

FCR  =  (Total No. of Customer Queries Resolved In First Call / Total No. of Unique Customer Inquiries) x 100

AHT tracks the long-term performances of an agent.

FCR tracks the short-term performances of an agent.

Strategies to Optimize Average Handle Time (AHT)

Below are a few strategies that a call center can implement to understand how to optimize average handle time (AHT) without compromising customers' quality of service:

1. Provide Quality Training To Your Team

Quality Training is one major strategy a call center should implement to optimize average handle time.


When there is a lack of proper training, agents do not know the answer to most common queries or do not understand the process. They look for answers and ask their leaders questions, automatically raising AHT.


Hence, an agent with quality training knows all the answers to every query and does not have to look up to a supervisor for answers, which helps reduce an average handle time.

2. Self-Service Option

Self-service options also play a vital role in optimizing average handle time. When a call center provides self-service options, customers easily find answers to their queries without any assistance.


Implementing a well-planned interactive voice response (IVR) automatically reduces the call flow and the demand for an agent to work on simple tickets.

3. Monitor Agents Performances

Monitoring representatives' performances is an important strategy for optimizing average handle time (AHT). To lower AHT, call centers must understand their agents' strengths and weaknesses by monitoring agents' performances.


Therefore, monitoring agent's performances helps to understand where they are lacking and offers agents opportunities for improvement.

4. Pay Attention To Quality Assurance

Paying attention to quality assurance is essential for a lower average handling time. Agents should clearly understand that they should not rush and that providing quality service must be their top priority.

5. Prioritize FCR

Every call center must encourage their agents to solve customers' issues during the first call. Adopting the First Call Resolution (FCR) strategy, a call center ultimately optimizes Average Handle Time (AHT) without compromising the quality of service to the customers.

Reduce Your Average Handle Time Using Calilio

Optimizing Average Handle Time (AHT) helps you deliver efficient and satisfying customer service. A lower AHT improves customer satisfaction, reduces operational costs, and enhances agent productivity.


Calilio is a modern business phone system that offers advanced features such as call tags and call notes, which help your agents quickly access customer information and provide swift resolutions.


Moreover, our call monitoring and call recording features enable supervisors to track AHT effectively, identify performance gaps, and implement targeted improvements. Sign up today for your call center operations and ensure a high-quality customer service experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate average handle time?

To calculate Average Handle Time (AHT), you need to sum the total talk time, hold time, follow-up time, and after-call work time, then divide by the total number of calls handled. The formula to calculate AHT is:


AHT = (Talk Time + Hold Time + Follow Up Time + After-call Work Time)/TotalNumberofCalls

What is standard AHT?

The standard AHT can vary depending on the industry and the complexity of the calls. However, a good benchmark for many call centers is around 6 minutes. Note that AHT can vary significantly across different sectors.

What is the average hold time?

The average hold time refers to the time a customer spends on hold during a call. It can vary widely, but in many industries, a typical average hold time ranges from 20 to 30 seconds. Minimizing hold time helps you maintain customer satisfaction.

What is the average handle time in seconds?

Average Handle Time (AHT) can be expressed in seconds for a more precise measurement. If the standard AHT is around 6 minutes, this equates to 360 seconds. AHT in seconds helps in detailed tracking and analysis of call center performance.

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