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Call centres operate on a set of key metrics, such as service levels, average handle times, and average call lengths, that determines their overall performance. They need to be able to handle calls efficiently without compromising customer satisfaction. But what happens when you spend too much time on each customer service call?

What Is Talk Time?

Talk time is the total amount of time that an agent spends interacting with a customer. When presented and reviewed as an average, it gives you an idea of how much time your agents are spending with your customers and how it influences or impacts the customers’ experience. 

By monitoring your talk time, you can determine whether you’re meeting your customer service level goals and excellent customer satisfaction rates or if your agents need to undergo call control or system training.

Average Talk Time vs. Average Handle Time

Average talk time (ATT) is a key factor often overlooked by call centre managers. It‘s often confused with average handle times (AHT), a metric that’s usually given more importance, as it paints a more holistic picture of each interaction and takes into account factors like hold times and call transfers.

For many call centres, the goal is to reduce their AHT and optimize operations without compromising customer experience. However, solely focusing on reducing AHT by lowering talk times may not always be beneficial, as it can lead to poor service quality.

How to Know You’re Spending Too Much Time on Each Customer Service Call

To measure your ATT and find out if you’re spending a lot of time on each call, take your total talk time of all calls and divide it by the total number of completed calls.

When calculating ATT, exclude average hold time, call transfers, calls resolved through your IVR system, and call wrap-up times.

Average talk time varies across industries. In the IT sector, ATT is at 209 seconds, or 3.48 minutes, while for the healthcare and life sciences industry, ATT is at 149 seconds (2.48 minutes). Talk times are ideally at 200 seconds (3.33 minutes) or above to achieve good service level ratings. For outbound calls, the ATT is at 358.2 seconds (5.97 minutes) to give agents more time to engage and convert customers.

However, spending too much time on each customer service call may lead to issues, such as staffing shortages and longer inbound call queues. You need to strike a balance between your ATT and customer service levels.

Note that just because an agent has low talk times doesn’t always mean they’re efficient. You have to listen to the calls to check their quality and look for processes that need improvement. An agent may have a low talk time and may appear efficient, but if you examine the call quality and customer experience, you may find that it has a negative effect on your organization.

Additionally, longer talk times aren’t always a bad thing. If an agent talks a bit longer but is able to deliver personalized service and excellent customer experience, then that’s definitely a win for you.

How to Know You’re Spending Too Much Time on Each Customer Service Call

When looking at average handle time and any issues you may have with it, it’s helpful to examine your average talk time. Longer talk times may indicate that your agents need better call control or an issue with your product or service. Consequently, shorter talk times may negatively affect your service levels.

Strike the right balance between talk time, efficiency, and customer experience by working with a professional call answering service like On Call Centre. Our knowledgeable and experienced fully bilingual call centre agents can address queries and issues quickly and efficiently to help you achieve your business goals and meet your customers’ unique needs. Learn more about what we can do to help your business thrive.

At On Call Centre , we deliver exceptional customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—sometimes 366. On Call Centre has been providing tailored, fluently French/English bilingual answering services and call centre services to small business owners (professionals, trades) and customer support departments (government, high tech, property management, healthcare, emergency clients) serving Ottawa , Montreal and Toronto —and all over Canada —for almost 50 years.