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Average Speed of Answer

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Table of Contents

Average Speed of Answer is the time taken to answer a customer’s call once the call is connected to the contact center. ASA is a key metric of a Contact Center to measure the performance and as a part of the Service Level. 

Average Speed of Answer is used with Average Wait Time. When understanding ASA, the metric includes the time a caller waits in the queue and the time while an agent’s phone rings. However, it does not take the time a caller spends navigating through the IVR menu, into consideration. 

ASA is often used by managers to monitor and analyze the efficiency of the agents, performance, and accessibility of the center to the customers/clients.

01

Why is the Average Speed of Answer important for your Call Center?

In order to improve their performance and continue providing excellent customer service, Call Centers need to analyze the Average Speed of Answer. 

Customers start analyzing their experience with the call center from the moment they dial the number. They have little time to spare and so they value the time they spend talking with the customer service agents. 

ASA has a big impact on a customer’s impression about a Call Center. If customers have to wait for too long to have their call answered, this will upset them even before the interaction begins. 

Therefore, you need to understand what their customers experience when they interact with your agents. Train your agents to be readily available with a friendly attitude to calm the customer and solve the issue without delay. 

This will help you in making customer-centric plans to improve customer satisfaction.

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02

How to measure your Average Speed of Answer?

As mentioned, ASA also includes the wait time of a caller for its calculation. So, the formula used to calculate the Average Speed of Answer is

ASA = Total time of wait for answered calls / Total number of answered calls 

Call Center management uses ASA to get an overall view of the center’s performance. Moreover, managers use it to assess customer satisfaction. 

The issue with trying to look at the overall picture is that managers often miss certain factors that affect the ASA. These exceptions can distort the result.

Hence it is important to consider the effect of these factors when you are trying to make decisions using ASA results.

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03

Factors you need to consider for Average Speed of Answer

Outliers Analysis:

Depending on the sample size an ASA result can be distorted. The managers must consider the outliers when calculating the ASA to gain a meaningful and comprehensive understanding of the result. 

Average Speed of Answering, in some cases, can be within the targeted range but also have callers who were on hold for an unacceptable amount of time. It may not skew the ASA and can lead to managers being reassured that the result is fine. However, it will negatively impact the customer experience. 

Therefore, it is important to know about the caller who waited for 20 minutes or more in the queue. 

Call Abandoned Rate:

Abandon rate is another factor that should be taken into consideration. Managers should monitor the abandon rate for the same time period when calculating ASA. This will give them a picture of how many callers hung up the call after waiting in the queue. 

This metric will not impact the ASA and the managers may believe that the result is good enough. However, when a caller hangs up after waiting for a long time, this can give them a bad experience with the company. 

To gain a comprehensive picture of how ASA impacts customer satisfaction, call center management must also conduct an outlier and abandonment rate analysis.

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04

How can you improve the Average Speed of Answer?

Auto-answer system: ASA across Call Centers dropped from 6 to 3.6 seconds after employing auto-answers.

Using VoIP and softphones can reduce your ASA. Such software uses the auto-facility to hit the call to an agent and reduces the response time in comparison to landlines or mobiles. 

In the case of landlines and mobile phones it takes 6 seconds for a call to ring however, for VoIP it takes 1 to 3 seconds.

Train your Agents: Agents require proper training to answer fast and wrap calls perfectly. They should become familiarized with the Dashboard and should be able to monitor their own call queue. 

This will help them wrap call fasters while efficiently helping the customer and increase the answer speed.

Forecast Call Volume: Use the historical records of call volume as a guide to predict the call volume for your upcoming days or months. Ensure your call center is adequately staffed and the agents understand the goal of customer satisfaction. 

Workforce: Manage your workforce by dividing your agents based on departments. This way you can easily match your customers to an agent who is perfect for the query. 

For example, account-related information or billing inquiries can be resolved faster than technical support. Hence, call queues can move fast with little hold time for the caller. Also, it will reduce the burden of calls from all the agents.

Make your IVR work: Optimize your IVR system properly. With a well-designed IVR, a call center can benefit by reducing call volume and speeding up call queues. 

IVR can offer the customers the option of self-service while routing complex queries to the agents. 

This way you can provide service to the customers faster and also reduce the workload of your agents.

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05

How High Average Speed of Answer can impact your Call Center?

You want to keep the ASA within your target range. But, to achieve your desired target you also have to understand how a High Average Speed of Answer can impact your call center performance.

Poor Customer Experience 

The more your system makes your customers wait to speak to your agents the more upset they will be with your service. High ASA, therefore, also indicates the poor customer experience. 

Poor Agent Satisfaction

Customers get irked when they have to wait for a long time in a queue. This results in them getting angry at the agent who is assigned to them. When the agent has to be at the end of a customer’s bad mood it affects the agent as well. The agent feels stressed and unmotivated.

High Call Abandonment Rates

Waiting in the queue for too long will force callers to abandon the call. The callers don’t call back and rather find a replacement for your company. 

High Call Handle Time

Callers, after waiting in the queue, will complain to the agents the moment their call connects through. The time spent on complaining and then the agent’s effort to pacify the situation will increase the length of the call. By the time the agent asks the customer about the issue, the call length will already be too long. 

Increased Escalated Calls

Customers unhappy with their experience will likely ask to speak to the manager to complain about the long hold time. With the increase in ASA, the number of calls escalated to the higher-ups will also increase. 

Low FCR rate

Customers are less likely to properly interact and cooperate with the agents after being frustrated from waiting too long. As a result, the agent also may not be able to resolve the issue of the caller. Hence, it will impact negatively on the First-call resolution rate.

Increase in Cost

Due to all the reasons mentioned above the call center cost will also increase. When phone lines get jammed and waiting time in queues increases the cost will go up.

06

FAQs

As per the industry standard, call centers generally try to answer 80% of the calls within 20 seconds. Therefore, the acceptable hold time in a call center is 20 seconds.

Average Handle Time measures the total time taken during a customer interacting with an agent. The process begins when the customer dials the number of the call center till the end of the call. It includes hold times, transfers as well as After-call work performed by an agent.

In an eight-hour shift and depending on the call volume, an agent handles 30 to 50 calls.

Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence

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