Goodbye AHT – Hello Time to Intent

Scott Horn | January 26, 2018

For years, Average Handle Time (AHT) has been the standard measure for how companies are doing in containing costs in the contact center. From the time a consumer initiates contact (including hold time, talk time and related tasks) to its conclusion, AHT has been a primary consideration when companies have determined their contact center staffing levels. But technology is changing that.

Until recently, the vast majority of sales and virtually all customer service interactions required human intervention. Many of those interactions took place over the phone, but in the last several years have been increasingly transitioning to chat. Now, in todays world, consumers interact with companies in a variety of ways besides phone, including text, chat and (believe it or not) email. Companies really need to measure all the ways that consumers are interacting with them. With chatbots and virtual agents increasingly becoming part of the mix, AHT becomes a bit archaic.

Additionally, AHT does not measure successful consumer interactions. Its a measure of how much time an agent spends with a consumer, but is not a measure of a consumers effort. Consumers want to accomplish tasks quickly, with minimal effort. They don't want to start over, or repeat information, or wait for an agent to fill out a form or check with a supervisor. They just want to get stuff done.

Its time for a new metric: Total Customer Interaction Time (TCIT). That's the time it takes from when a consumer initiates an interaction to when he or she successfully complete that interaction. When a bot is handling all or part of a conversation, the most important measures becomeNSAT (Net user satisfaction) and Automation Rate as captured by TCIT. A consumer may want to continue a conversation because they have multiple questions, but as long as thats handled by the bot, rather than taking up an agents time, its all good.

The faster a consumer can complete a task, and get back to their business, the happier they will be. I call this "time to intent." If you look at it that way, then ask yourself are we doing everything we can to reduce time to intent?