ACW Primer: Expert tips to manage & analyze post-call processing for better performance

Today, I’m going to talk about After Call Work. This primer I’ve put together will talk about:

  • What is After Call Work?
  • 5 Tips to Reduce ACW and Improve Agent Productivity
  • How expert contact center managers use ACW to measure and improve performance

What is After Call Work (ACW) or Post-Call Processing?

As the name suggests, after call work (AWC) or post-call processing, is the work a call center agent puts in after speaking to a customer. These are the agent’s to-dos before s/he can truly wrap up a call. Until this time, an agent’s status remains busy or not available. These tasks include:

  • Updating customer information. (in the database and/or within help desk)
  • Adding ticket numbers.
  • Adding notes from the call or call dispositions (reason for the call, outcome of the call etc.)
  • Logging the call.
  • Follow up email to the customer.

Steps such as these are indeed important to meet customer needs. However, call wrap time could take anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. If ACW takes more than a minute or so (utmost!), agent efficiency and call center productivity are adversely impacted. It is, therefore, critical to ensure that the time taken to wrap up a call is minimized.

Managing ACW: 5 Tips to Reduce ACW and Improve Agent Productivity

Agent Productivity is the key to run an efficient contact center process. Since agents are the costliest resource of a contact center, it is imperative that we do everything in the contact center ecosystem to improve their experience. One job which really drags down Agent Productivity is ACW or Wrap Up Time. This, in turn, impacts other metrics like Call Abandonment Rate and Queue Time. Controlling this parameter leads to a significant improvement in overall Contact Center performance. Let us go through 5 of the important ways in which you can optimize ACW time and improve your ratings

  • Use Call Disposition Codes
    Using pre-filled codes or short codes is a common practice across all Contact Centers. These short codes are known as call dispositions, and can be used to summarise:

    • Reason for a call
    • The outcome of the call
    • Follow up instructions

    Instead of typing out details or notes, agents just select from a drop-down menu. This lets you categorize call reasons and dispositions easily and consistently across all your calls. Plus it also saves time for agents.
    You can further improve your efficiency, by providing keyboard shortcuts and auto search options for the drop-down menu.

  • Select wrap up codes while on call
    Agents should be able to select the codes while they are still on call. That means that while they are still speaking to the caller, they are also selecting their call disposition codes from the drop-down menu. As soon as the call ends, they see the “save” button. They click it and are ready for their next call in seconds.
  • Integrate ACW with the CRM
    It only takes an hour to integrate your contact center solution with your CRM. And this one hour can save each of your agents many, many productive work hours.
    Disposition API: Our Disposition API allows our clients to integrate the CRM wrap up with the contact center to wrap up. Without this, your agent has to separately fill out dispositions in your contact center software and your CRM software. Our Disposition API saves 10-15% of agents time in ACW.Auto-generation of tickets: When your CRM is integrated with your contact center solutions, tickets are automatically generated and logged against caller’s history—for all incoming calls. New incoming phone numbers generate a new ticket automatically.Schedule follow up calls from within CRM: Agents should not require to open an additional window to schedule follow-up calls. (My article on call scheduling explains this in detail)
  • Format your ACW codes
    Never have more than 5 master reasons and 5 sub-reasons for the agent to select from(totaling 25 codes). We have seen some team leads at our clients’ contact centers go overboard on tracking, creating 100+ wrap up codes. Yes, it will give micro level tracking of the calls; but it will lead to an inefficient group of agents who will spend more than 20 seconds searching for a code.
  • Keep wrap up codes to a single level
    The number of wrap up codes is one issue. The other mistake overzealous first-timers in the contact center business make is creating multi-level disposition / wrap up codes. Even if your contact center software provides multi-level wrap-up codes, DO NOT get tempted by them. It will lead to unwanted loss of time for agents and make the operations much more complicated.

Call Center managers have to maintain a fine balance between tracking calls with disposition/wrapup codes and optimizing Agent Productivity. This is a continuous process and has to be periodically reviewed for corrections.  Learn how to measure your ACW, to extract vital information from it.

Analyzing ACW: How contact center managers use ACW to measure and improve performance

CSAT is rated by our contact center managers as the highest and most key metric to measure contact center performance. However, our interactions with various contact center managers over the years have led us to discover important and interesting ways that After Call Work is used as a metric to measure and improve contact center health. It was fun learning how they were able to draw outputs from this metric. We’ve enlisted some of the ways here:

Using ACW to measure contact center performance

  1. High call volumes not reducing your ACW? Relook at your wrap up codes
    If an experienced contact center manager looks at ACW metrics in isolation, they can easily identify call volumes from it. Sounds difficult to believe? But, experienced managers know that when hourly ACW reduce, it is an indication that call volumes were high in that period. This may sound counterintuitive, but the truth is that agents work at their peak efficiency during high call volumes. If they are unable to wrap up a call faster during these times, when there is high pressure from their floor managers/team leads to wrap calls and move to the next one—then something needs to be reviewed.
    So if your call volume is high, and your ACW doesn’t reduce, then consider training the agents or reassessing your wrap up codes.
  2. Use Agent ACW graphs to assess training needs
    When floor managers filter ACW graphs by agent, they can see individual agent graphs. When you see that call volumes spikes are not creating a corresponding decrease in ACW, then use these individual ACW graphs to identify training needs. The training may be as simple as explaining the various codes and meanings to the agents, so they can identify disposition speedily.
    Want to know the exact correlation between training and ACW? A contact center manager I know, once told me that he had observed that there was a 20% reduction in ACW after their executives completed 6 months of employment. That’s the difference training can make.
  3. Your daily ACW graph tells you when its time to add new wrap up codesManagers measure daily after-call work average times as well as mean/medians to find out if they needed to train the agents. If the ACW time was increasing continuously, then it is time to change the agents. If it is a Sine wave, they can identify that agents were getting confused in selecting wrap up codes. It is possible that something has changed in customer calling patterns, and your agents don’t have the right code name to identify this new issue. So it may be time to edit or add new codes.
  4. The wrap-up code count helps identify campaign challenges.
    Each wrap code corresponds to a specific issue/ resolution. If the number of codes for a certain issue increase, then its easy to identify that there is a problem to be solved.
    For example, an E-commerce company suddenly sees wrap up code: “SKU Not Found” — to be quite high on a given day/week. Operations managers check if this corresponds to a marketing campaign. Let’s say that in this case, there was a marketing campaign advertising 50% discount on this SKU resulting in the SKU getting sold out. Let’s also assume the marketing campaign is on for the next one week. The operations manager immediately knows they have to boost inventory or the marketing campaign will fail or cause customer dissatisfaction.

Finally, After Call Work is an important step in wrapping up a call. It completes the call loop and helps managers identify important issues. While ACW or post-call processing time should not be rushed, it should be made more efficient. Some simple ways to achieve this goal is through comprehensive agent training and multitasking coupled with optimal utilization of technology to provide time and labor-saving assistance.  

 

2018-11-04T13:25:20+00:00

About the Author:

Prashanth is VP, International Business at Ozonetel Communications. He is focused on delivering impactful business benefits through our contact center solutions.

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