Agent shortages and inbound call queues: the downside to high ATT
Average talk time (ATT) – also called average call duration (funnily enough, not ACD, which stands for automatic call distribution in contact centres) – is one of the trickier metrics you’re likely to face.
An extended talk time means that your agents are investing more in every call, spending effort on personalisation and high-quality service delivery. But stretch ATT too long, and you’ll find contact centres facing staffing shortages and the inbound call queue getting longer.
This means you are constantly aiming to strike that perfect “Goldilocks” balance with ATT, and not have it dip too low or rise too high. To achieve this, you must benchmark your ATT against the current industry average.
You can define ATT as the average time an agent spends on the actual telephonic interaction, leaving out pre-call prep or post-call activities. Here is the formula for calculating ATT:
(Total handling time – total hold time faced by customers – total wrap-up time put in by agents) ÷ the number of calls handled that day
Keep in mind that ATT is calculated in minutes or seconds, never as a percentage value.
Latest research reveals that ATT is witnessing an upward trend across industries, with agents spending more time on giving each customer a better service experience. In 2019, the average talk time across industries for inbound contact centres was 191 seconds or 3.18 minutes. This climbed to 228 seconds or nearly 4 minutes in 2020.
Here are the industry-specific benchmarks that you need to remember:
These numbers are an approximate indicator of how much time an agent should be spending on each call, depending on your industry. Anything below 150 seconds is definitely too low, while 200 seconds and above means you have a chance of scoring an exceptional service level rating.
Expectedly, outbound contact centres aim for a relatively higher call duration as it gives them the opportunity to engage with the customer, persuade, convince, and convert them. The average cross-industry ATT for sales calls is therefore 5.97 minutes or 358.2 seconds, an important metric is you’re looking to invest in outbound campaigns in 2021.