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What Everyone Must Know About Average Speed of Answer

Blog: MattsenKumar Blog

Contact center managers rely on the Average Speed of Answer to critically assess agent’s efficiency, and performance. As a key performance indicator, the Average Speed of Answer also helps in assessing the ease with which customers were able to access support by a human agent.

With contact centers aiming to offer quality support, generate more sales and drive revenue, measuring and improving on KPIs like Average Speed of Answer is crucial. To run a profitable contact center, managers must understand ASA comprehensively. A coherent understanding of ASA will allow the manager to measure it correctly, acknowledge its impact and how it affects customers.

What is the Average Speed of Answer?

Average Speed of Answer is a decisive call center metric that represents the average time it takes for customers to get on a call with human agents. The metric undertakes ringing time, IVR period, and other waiting periods during calculation. By considering the waiting period and IVR response time, the metric helps organizations understand the pain customers go through before accessing a human agent.

Average Speed of Answer Formula: Total Waiting Time for Answered Calls/Total Number of Calls Answered.

Numerous industry veterans consider ASA to be a true measure of customer satisfaction. A Forbes study validates the fact with statistics that say “71% of customers are less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have human customer service representatives”. While ASA can help organizations in altering CSAT scores for the better but it is not the appropriate measure of proximity between users and offered customer experience.

Experts believe, calculating ASA independently doesn’t give away much information on customer experience. Calculating Call Abandonment Rate along with ASA helps organizations estimate “how many users left because of Higher Average Speed of Answer?”

Impact of Average Speed of Answer on an Inbound Center?

To comprehensively understand the importance of ASA and managing it, one needs to be well-versed with its impact. If left alone, ASA is potent and hazardous enough to affect customer experience and drive churn rates higher. Once the impact of this crucial metric gets clear, managers can easily take a call on practices that affects it negatively and positively. Let’s go through all the impacts one by one.

Poor Customer Satisfaction

For traditional organizations that are continuing with the grumpy ole IVR and call routing paradigm, improving customer experience is a piece of cake. While they can improve on their existing CX, they will get nowhere close to the benchmark.

Yes, a higher ASA affects your customer satisfaction score. If you put in an example, here’s how it looks like. A customer trying to get in touch with your support services in a panic-driven situation will get frustrated if the IVR keeps re-routing him or her. As mentioned earlier, measuring ASA along with Call Abandonment will help draw a clear customer journey map and strengthen the weaknesses.

Reduced Agent Satisfaction

Let alone customers, a higher Average Speed of Answer affects the agent’s satisfaction too. Since customers have wasted a lot of crucial minutes waiting to get in touch with an agent, they are already frustrated and looking for quick fixes. For agents, offering quick fixes is a tough task given they are required to take pre-defined input from customers and verify their authenticity too.

With customers already frustrated and an agent trying to run them through the prescribed compliances, the call doesn’t end well. Both customers and agents disconnect the call on an unhappy note.

The problem accelerates when customers are routed to the wrong department—because of their own mistakes—and agents fail to offer them quality information. Such situations affect an agent’s productivity and a customer’s overall experience.

High Abandonment Rates

Recent developments have coaxed organizations to have centers located in multiple regions. With the COVID-19 pandemic, countries like Phillippines failed to keep up with the promised service standard and now organizations are dependent upon India’s outsourcing capabilities to meet their customer support requirements.

Since organizations are running multiple centers, calls are routed to the geographically nearest center. With all that investment, if IVR is not optimized, the organization will lose the customer and the capital input will go waste. To ensure abandonment rates are under control, organizations need to invest in IVR optimization or simply move to a better platform.

Increased Handle Time

When callers get in touch with agents after spending minutes listening to the IVR, they are likely to spend another valuable minute venting on the agent. To ensure the customer feels comfortable, the agent will take another minute to profusely apologize for the delay. Together, the customer, IVR, and agent have wasted 3-5 minutes while the actual problem will take less than 60 seconds to solve.

A higher ASA means, customers, getting frustrated, leaving your call midway, increased handle time, lesser calls being answered, and a sharp decline in revenue.

Agent Efficiency Drops

As we already mentioned, agents are likely to spend an additional minute trying to make up for mess created by a bad IVR or a worse routing system. With agents spending more time on calming customers, the overall efficiency is likely to take a hit. Average handle time will increase, the number of calls per agent will go down and the quality of support offered will also drop.

While in hindsight these impacts look minuscule but in the long run, these measures put organizations out of business. During times when organizations are investing heavily in CX innovation and customer experience optimization, not handling ASA promptly can prove expensive.

How Average Speed of Answer Affects Customer Experience?

In layman’s word, ASA is about an organization’s ability to help customers get in touch with a human agent as early as possible. By routing customers to the concerned department at the earliest, organizations can uphold their customer experience and cater to more users.

A slight drop in ASA can have diverse effects on customer experience because of:

Increased Competition: The competition in every industry is growing and organizations are leveraging unique paradigms and methodologies to offer a quality experience. With Live Chat, Chatbot, and Social Media support, organizations have got users addicted to instant resolution. Any organization that is stuck on medieval systems is likely to lose.

Misplaced Priorities: Numerous enterprises are still under the impression that low prices will help them retain customers. In a recent study, 84% of users agreed that they will pay extra for a quality experience. With customers willing to pay extra for a quality experience, organizations that use price as a key differentiator are likely to lose their market share to organizations that prioritize CX.

Limited Options: What started with one channel, now has expanded to multi-channels coming together to offer an omnichannel experience. In the age of omnichannel expertise, organizations dependent upon traditional call support with high ASA, customers will leave without worrying about the initial investment.

How to Reduce Average Speed of Answer?

Implement Advanced Call Routing Tools

In 2021, where organizations are contemplating the idea of establishing an “emergency support system”, functioning on primeval call routing tools is not recommended. By moving to a better platform that ensures easier routing.

In contemporary times, there are IVR available that can take audio input. Here’s how they work:

  1. Instead of repeating the entire menu to customers, they ask users for query
  2. Customers answer using keywords like “credit card”
  3. Based on voice input, IVR offers credit card options
  4. Similarly, if net banking was the voice input
  5. IVR would have routed to Net banking options
When one such system is implemented:

Better Call Center Workforce Management

Call center workforce management is more about understanding underlying challenges and less about allocating resources abundantly, which is simply a waste of valuable agent time.

Here’s how effective call center workforce management will reduce ASA:

With the right number of agents available to all incoming calls, it gets easier to cater to all incoming requests. Customers can gain instant access to agents and get their queries resolve. With an established system that is powered by workforce management, call centers can register improvement on all KPIs & metrics. Be it FCR, AHT, CSAT, CES, or Agent Utilization, all can be improved with quality workforce management.

Improve on Call Volume Prediction

Measuring Average Speed of Answer independently is not ideal because:
  1. ASA increases because a lesser number of agents were available to handle incoming calls, which is a workforce management issue
  2. Similarly, IVR routing customers to the wrong department is a challenge not entirely dependent upon agents, it is more about platform and technology
  3. Agent adherence and call center shrinkage are a few more metrics that affect ASA and need to be measured in accordance to develop an effective understanding of customer challenges.
Similarly, Call Volume Prediction needs to be worked upon. Here’s how to do it:
  1. Measure the average number of incoming calls regularly
  2. Once you have measured the call, refer to the average handle time
  3. Develop an arbitrage between incoming calls and average handle time
  4. Once you have identified the number of agents required to attend all calls
  5. Acquire a requisite number of agents, systems and optimize IVR for faster routing
  6. Allow agents to raise their concerns and use the feedback for improved call volume prediction.

Once all underlying challenges and prevalent problems have been identified, try to learn the amount an agent needs to give for a particular problem. Once all these numbers are worked out, managers can identify the number of agents required to handle all incoming calls without any delay. With all the numbers, managers will be able to predict call volume effortlessly.

Final Thought on Average Speed of Answer 

Global organizations are outsourcing contact centers because BPOs have evolved into “centers of excellence”. From risk mitigation to onboarding new and effective technology, BPOs are offering much-more advanced capabilities at half the price.

Industry veterans consider ASA to be a meager metric that has very little to offer but an incessant increase in ASA can affect an organization’s entire market share and turn customers into detractors.

With MattsenKumar’s outsourcing services that are recognized by Clutch for three successive years, enterprises can focus on prevalent challenges without worrying about ASA and other crucial call center metrics.

The post What Everyone Must Know About Average Speed of Answer appeared first on MattsenKumar.

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