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Questions to ask when analyzing call center talk time

What specific techniques could you suggest to lower average talk time for inbound order entry/ customer service calls on an agent level? (i.e.: call phrases, call control techniques etc.) For example, many of the extended calls seem to be when a supervisor is requested ... Is there a way to educate the agents in techniques to avoid supervisor escalations? Or is there a way to de-escalate a caller immediately requesting a supervisor?

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Without specific knowledge of your business and center, it is difficult to answer your question. However, as a general practice the best way to lower talk time is to carefully analyze what factors are driving the talk time. Some questions to explore: Are there certain transactions or processes that drive a longer handle time? Does your system return data and screens to the representatives rapidly enough? Is the system easy to navigate? Are your representatives trained properly? Are there other areas outside of your control which also drive higher talk time (and escalations) such as unsatisfactory service delivery by other areas? What are your policies for escalation?

Call control training is available to help assist representatives with requests for escalation. Consider process training on how to handle upset customers, and carefully define your process on when and how to escalate calls for additional assistance.

This was first published in July 2009

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