If customer satisfaction is a key call center metric for your business, then how quickly you answer the phone should be a top priority.
We have all been on the other side of that phone line, waiting for the IVR to stop repeating itself and for a human being to ask, “Hello, how may I help you?” And we know there is nothing more frustrating than waiting endlessly for this to happen.
It’s little wonder then that the Average Speed of Answer is one of the most important contact center metrics.
What is ASA?
The average speed of answer (ASA) is the time an agent takes to answer your call. It includes the time your caller waits in a queue (also known as Average Wait Time) but does not include the time that callers spend on an IVR.
ASA is a call center metric that directly affects the customer service experience and customer satisfaction levels.
What is Average Agent Speed of Answer (AASA)?
Average Agents Speed of Answer (AASA) indicates how fast call center agents answer inbound calls from when their phone starts ringing. This metric starts when the agent’s phone rings and ends when the agent answers. It doesn’t include the time a customer spends in the IVR or waiting in a queue.
Average Agent Speed of Answer is a call center productivity metric that directly influences the ASA or Average Speed of Answer.
How do you calculate the Average Speed of Answer?
In order to calculate ASA, you divide the total wait time for all calls by the total number of calls in a day.
So, ASA (in seconds) = Total waiting time for calls answered daily / Total number of calls answered in a day
This means that if the total wait time for callers in a day is two hours or 120 minutes or 7,200 seconds, and the total number of calls answered in the day is 200 then the ASA would be 36 seconds.
ASA = 7,200/200 = 36 seconds
This means that the typical customer who calls your contact center has to wait for 36 seconds before he or she can speak to your customer service representative. This can be a long time for a customer in a hurry or an irate customer with a complaint.
What is the importance of call center ASA?
ASA is a critical component of your overall customer experience. It is one of several variables that can help determine the success of the overall inbound call process. This KPI measures caller waiting times – a factor that directly impacts the customer satisfaction outcomes.
As result, improving your call center ASA can lead to:
- Higher customer satisfaction. It gives a customer immense relief to hear a human voice at the other end because they feel they are a step closer to getting their problem resolved. And the faster they hear that voice, the more they appreciate your attentive service. In fact, faster ASA can go a long way in calming down an irate customer, rebuilding trust, and customer loyalty.
- Improved agent productivity. If an agent answers a call quickly, the call queue moves that much faster. Agents can therefore handle a higher number of calls when the ASA improves. Also, the chances of resolving the issues a customer has called with are better with a low ASA. This improves agent productivity and keeps the contact center’s operating costs low.
- Reduced customer attrition. Customers often hang up simply because the waiting time is too long. customers cite long wait times as one of the top reasons for poor customer service experience. They not only abandon the call but may end up abandoning your product or service. Lowering the number of dropped calls will lower your customer attrition rate. So, maintaining a low ASA is a good way to hold on to customers.
The aim of a contact center should always be to keep the ASA to a minimum. The faster your contact agent answers a call from a customer, the better it is for your business!
What is Average Agent Speed of Answer?
Average Agent Speed of Answer— also known as Average Delay or Average Agent Pick-up Time —is the amount of time an agent takes to answer a call.
What is the call center industry-standard for Average Speed of Answer?
In a comprehensive study we conducted in 2021 across 24 million calls, we noted that the Average Speed of Answer was 46 seconds. This is a good industry benchmark. The Average Agent Speed of Answer for 2021 was 8 seconds across industries.
Below is a chart showing average wait times, or ASA and AASA across industries
When comparing ASA for 2021 versus 2020, we see that the Average Agent Speed of Answer has remained the same. In contrast, the ASA, or average wait time has increased for the same time period, indicating that call center may need to increase their staffing. We also see that eCommerce seems to be setting the benchmark for prompt customer service with average wit times at 22 seconds, and average agent speed of answer as low as 2.3 seconds.
How can a call center improve its average speed of answer?
To improve the ASA metric, the inbound call process should be streamlined. This means that adequate skilled-based agents should be available, and your call routing should be well planned.
Here are three key ways to improve a call center’s ASA.
1. Use auto-answer
Landlines or mobile phones take up to 6 seconds for call ringing. VOIP and softphones instantly hit the call to agents using the auto-answer feature. This can reduce your ASA from 8 seconds to 1-3 seconds.
In fact, in 2019, the Average Agent Speed of Answer across call centers dropped from 6 seconds to 3.6 seconds because of switching to this auto-answer technology.
2. Improve agent training
Your agents should be familiar with their agent dashboard and be trained and motivated to wrap calls and answer faster. This will help them get through the queues faster, naturally leading to higher availability and faster answer speeds.
Also read: How to reduce After Call Work
3. Accurately forecast call volumes
Use call center reports to view your call volumes by day of the month, time, and time of the year. Use these historical reports to predict your call center volumes and ensure that you have an adequate number of agents available to answer calls.
4. Utilize skill hunting
Skill hunting involves dividing your workforce into a number of skills or departments. By doing this you can create a better match between your agents and a caller. Agents skilled at handling certain types of calls, for instance, billing-related queries, are likely to resolve callers’ queries faster. As a result, call queues move faster, reducing the overall loads on agents and consequently leading to a faster ASA.
5. Put your IVR to work
A well-designed IVR can go a long way in reducing call volumes, accelerating call queues, and reducing the load on your agents. This in turn can lead to a faster speed of answer. For instance, our client, a hospitality startup called Treebo, uses a CRM integrated call center solution to distinguish callers with prior bookings from other callers. It directs existing customers to a live agent and offers a self-service menu to the other callers.
Another delivery firm also implemented a similar self-service IVR. This resulted in the firm being able to respond to customers three times faster than before. (Read the customer story here)
How fast a customer’s call is answered is telling. It’s a caller’s first interaction with a business. It’s a chance for companies to make a strong first impression for a lasting relationship.
Reduced wait times can go a long way in enhancing the customer experience. With some insightful analytics data and streamlined workflows, it’s well within reach!
Want to reduce the Average Speed of Answer and improve your customer experience in cost-effective, efficient ways? Learn about our inbound call solutions here.