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Average Handling Time or AHT

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Average Handling Time in simple terms is the amount of time it takes in a call to resolve a customer’s issue. AHT includes the transaction from call initiation, to Hold Time, to Talk Time until the After Call Work Time. 

AHT is used as a metric for channels where the point of contact is immediate such as phone calls and live chats. 

The benchmark for AHT in a Call Center varies across all industries. According to a study from Cornell, the AHT benchmark for

  • Telecommunication – 8.30 minutes
  • Financial and IT services – 4.45 minutes
Average Handling Time or AHT2


How can you calculate Average Handle Time for your Call Center?

AHT= (Talk Time + Total Hold Time + After Call Work Time) / Total Number of Calls 

Talk Time: This describes the amount of time your agent spent on a call with the caller. This data is easy to obtain because the system keeps a track of it. 

Total Hold Time: Hold or Wait time is also easy to collect from your system. 

After Call Work Time: ACW time is the amount of time an agent spends updating information on the database. This value is difficult to obtain and varies depending on the complexity of the call. Some issues may require the agent to put more time and effort into updating the system while other issues may not.

Average Handling Time or AHT1

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Why should you track your Average Handling Time?

AHT is a metric that affects a number of Call Center KPIs. 

CSAT: AHT can tell you a lot about the efficiency of your call center and how it impacts customer experience. 51% of customers will stop doing business with a company after one bad experience with their service. 

Agent Effectiveness: Average Handling Time can help a call center manager to monitor the performance of agents and decide who needs training. It helps figure out ways to improve an agent’s performance and service for the customer base. 

Operational Efficiency: If it takes a longer time to handle a ticket, then more agents are needed to handle the number of tickets efficiently to avoid putting customers on Wait. You can also learn if your current plan of action is generating efficient results or not.

Average Handling Time or AHT3

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How can you benefit from low Average Handling Time?

By improving your AHT you can improve your customer satisfaction which results in better publicity for the Company. Additionally, a low AHT also contributes to cost efficiency and operational performance. 

Make your Customers Happy

Customers often prefer not to call customer service to get help. If they do call you it means the issue is important for them. However, a call that lacks quality is guaranteed to upset them. 

Provide high-quality responses as quickly as possible. The faster and efficiently you can solve a customer’s issue the more a customer appreciates your Call Center. If you can continue providing efficient responses while working faster through the tickets, you can positively influence customer satisfaction. 

Operational Performance

Monitoring your AHT you can identify the areas you may need to improve in order to empower your team. 

Using tools that can support your agents by automating simple tasks can take off the workload from your agents. Moreover, tools that help the agents get their work done fast can also leave them with more time to handle more calls. 

Agents working without any unnecessary burden can improve their productivity. They will feel motivated. Happy agents will provide better service to the customers. 

Also, using automated and technologically advanced tools can streamline the entire workflow. As a result, the operation becomes cohesive and smooth. 

Reduce the money spent

Once you streamline the overall process of your Call Center and make your agents productive you will easily cut down on cost.

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How can you improve your Average Handling Time?

You cannot reduce your AHT by hurrying the customer off the call by providing an inefficient solution. This will only lead to more trouble for the call center. 

For improving your AHT you have to keep the factor of improving customer experience in mind. Reducing the length of calls and increasing customer satisfaction is the way to go about it. 

Train your Agents well: It is your agents who talk to your customers. So, the job of improving AHT also falls upon your agent’s ability. Train your agents on how to use hardware, software, and CRM. Communicate with your agents about the goal of the company and also the policies. 

This way your agents will have comprehensive knowledge and will know how to handle the issues effectively. 

Moreover, you should not limit the training to one time a day. Agents should receive training and coaching while they are doing their job. Practical experience from handling calls can give them knowledge on how to improve AHT without sacrificing customer satisfaction. 

Optimize call routing: Connecting calls to the right agents is the easiest way to reduce your AHT. An agent who is knowledgeable about the issue won’t require hold time or transfer. They can solve the customer’s query in no time and thus, improve the Average Handling Time. 

Call Records: With a call record of both inbound and outbound calls you can identify the problems faced by the agents. This can give you an idea for improvement. You can also use these recordings to provide training to your agents. Also, with the recordings, you can discuss with your agents how they can improve their performance. 

Streamline Workflow: Automate as many tasks as you can. Let your agents work on complex issues and handle customer service. Use automated software and tools to support agents and take the pressure off them.

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Best Practices you can adopt to improve your AHT

Use appropriate and efficient tools

Whether you are a startup company or a well-established company, the tools you use can affect the workflow.

Use the tools that can benefit and smoothen for your business. There is no need to rush after high-end tools. Find out what works best for your company and use that, even if it is keyboard shortcuts. 

Train your agents new and old to use the software and hardware efficiently and to its full potential.

Resolve in the First Interaction

Try to solve the issue the first time your customer calls you. This will avoid any additional responses and you can improve your Average Handling Time. 

Use CRM to collect and store extensive information about the customers into the database. This will help the agents to access the information about the customer and give them a better service. 

Also, when you are resolving issues don’t confuse customers by giving them alternative answers. Give them a single solution and be as clear and confident as you can. 

Check other data

To decrease the overall AHT you should take a look at the cases that have low AHT and those with high AHT. This way you can figure out how to train your agents and design plans to improve the service. You may also need to hire more agents to maintain the response time.

Enrich your Knowledge Base

You cannot expect your agents to have all the skills and knowledge. The best way to support your agents and provide them all the information they need is to give them access to an extensive knowledge base. 

Document all information related to products and services, protocols, and guidelines. The information should be accessible to the agents so that they can use it as a guide to help the customers. 

In conclusion, you cannot reduce your Average Handling Time by rushing through the call. You have to optimize and streamline the entire operation and aim for customer satisfaction.



To calculate the AHT of your Call Center you should add your Talk Time, Total Hold Time, and After Call Work and divide it by the Total Number of Calls.

The industry standard for AHT is 6 minutes and 10 seconds, as per Call Center Magazine.

AHT can give you insight into the productivity of the service you provide to your customers. This can contribute to improving your customer experience.