Reducing Call Centre Wait Times

Call Centre Wait Times

The longer your customers wait, the less important they feel. Sure, “Sorry to keep you waiting” or “Your call is important to us” helps reassure them, but does it really make any difference?

Average Wait Time (AWT) has become a key performance indicator for contact centres letting managers and staff know exactly how long customers are waiting for their calls to be answered. By analysing AWT data we can find areas in which we can improve our efficiency and reduce the amount of time it takes to answer our customer’s calls.

To reduce our Average Wait Time and improve the customer experience we are delivering, we first need to understand exactly what AWT is.

Average Wait Time

Average Wait Time is basically what the name suggests; it’s the average time an inbound call spends waiting in a queue. AWT can be measured globally across the call centre by queue, skillset, agent group, agent or phone number.

The typical Average Wait Time for call centres is 20 seconds with most call centres striving to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds. However, this is not always the optimal time for everyone and some businesses aim to answer their calls even quicker.

What is an Acceptable Average Wait Time?

A study, conducted by American Express in 2014, found that the maximum time callers were willing to wait was a shocking 13 minutes. Three years later, a similar study conducted by Aris found that, while 66 per cent of consumers would not accept hold times longer than two minutes, 13% said that it was not acceptable to wait at all.

These studies show that there is an increasing demand for faster, if not instant, response times. Consumers are already used to having information and communication at their fingertips. It is, therefore, essential that call centres keep up with the demand.

How to Reduce Average Call Centre Wait Time

As we mentioned earlier, Average Wait Time gives you a good snapshot of how your call centre Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and agents are performing. Ultimately, the aim is to reduce long hold times and abandoned calls and looking at past data can help you identify areas where there is room for improvement. Below are some of our top tips for reducing your AWT:

Optimise Queues
Ineffective IVR can frustrate customers. IVR that delivers confusing option trees, routes calls to the wrong places or misreads inputs can lead to the customer giving up altogether. Testing your IVR to ensure that callers can get through to the right departments, quickly and easily, can reduce the amount of time they have to wait before speaking to the appropriate agent.
Workforce Management
Ultimately, your workforce is the difference between acceptable and unacceptable wait times. Agents who handle their calls faster and more efficiently can help their callers quickly, provide higher rates of first call resolution and move on quickly to the next caller in the queue.
Empowering employees to monitor their own call queues and incentivising them to keep call times down can also lead to improved AWT.
If all this has already been considered, then maybe it’s time to employ more staff?
It’s Not All About AWT
Sometimes, the answer to improving customer experience is not always through improving average wait times, but through providing superior customer experience. If you can provide an increased level of customer service, and if your metrics show that you can get away with slightly longer wait times, then your customers may actually prefer you to take your time with them to find the best possible solution and deliver exceptional customer service.

Improving AWT In Your Contact Center

There are plenty of tools out there to help you analyse your call centre performance and improve Average Wait Times. Whether you decide you need to improve your IVR, ACD (Automatic Call Distributor), provide more staff training or hire additional representatives, the tools and software are available to help you evaluate your results.

Kane is one of South Wales’ leading independent telecoms specialists. We have helped call centres all over the world to not only meet their customer’s demands but to go beyond their expectations.

If you would like to know how Kane can help your call centre reduce its Average Wait Times and deliver an improved customer experience, please give us a call on 0292 1111 202 or send an email to