Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is a frequently used key performance indicator (KPI) to assess your contact center’s efficiency, accessibility to callers and overall performance. While it is a key KPI that is evaluated alongside others, such as first call resolution, average time in queue and average abandonment rate, it’s not always easy to interpret. To use this metric effectively, it’s important to consider it in relationship to your contact center’s overall operations, along with your customers and agents.
HOW TO CALCULATE AVERAGE SPEED OF ANSWER
In its simplest terms, ASA is the average amount of time required for calls to be answered in a contact center within a set period of time. Although ASA typically doesn’t include the time it takes callers to navigate through an IVR, it does include the time a customer is in a queue and the time it takes for an agent to answer the call.
Because today’s contact centers are not solely focused on voice interactions, the average speed of answer is now sometimes calculated for digital channels, such as web chat and instant message.
The formula for ASA is:
ASA = Total Waiting Time for Answered Calls/Total Number of Answered Calls
For example, if there are 800 callers in a day, and the total waiting time for all answered calls is 2 hours. The total waiting time in seconds is 7200. The ASA is 7200/800 = 9 seconds.
The lower your ASA time, the shorter amount of time that your customers are waiting in the queue.
Like many other contact center KPIs, ASA is calculated as a mean. Thus, it can be difficult to identify outliers that impact service levels and customer satisfaction. In other words, those who monitor average speed of answer should also analyze data from outliers to gain a clearer picture of the customer experience. An ASA can fall within a target range with a few callers that have been waiting far beyond an acceptable amount of time. In today’s hyper-connected environment, it only takes one unhappy customer who waited too long to cause a substantial amount of negative brand-damaging, online feedback.
When calculating ASA, it’s also essential to consider the caller abandonment rate. By including calls that were never answered, you’ll gain a clearer picture of the impact of ASA on overall customer satisfaction.
THE IMPACT OF AVERAGE SPEED OF ANSWER ON OTHER KPIs
Unlike some KPIs that may only impact one segment of your contact center, ASA can have a profound impact on your customers, agents, and overall profitability.
High Abandonment Rates
Callers have a limited amount of patience. The longer it takes for their call to be answered, the more likely they will abandon the call and potentially take their business elsewhere.
Increased Handle Time
Those who stick it out to speak with an agent can be unhappy and will take extra time to complain about the poor service. They may even ask to speak with a supervisor or have other requests that require more of an agent’s time. With every additional apology an agent has to make, efficiency and profitability drops.
Fewer First Call Resolutions
Frustrated callers are also less likely to have their issue resolved to their satisfaction on first contact. Transfers, call backs or other efforts may be needed to rectify the situation and improve the customer relationship.
THE END RESULT CAN BE COSTLY
Diminishing Rates of Customer Satisfaction
With each additional second of time a customer has to wait to speak with an agent, the less satisfied they will be with their experience. ASA is directly related to decreased sales, more customer churn and greater risk for poor online reviews.
Unhappy customers complain to agents which causes agent stress and burnout. Agents who are continuously fielding customer complaints are more likely to move to new opportunities, particularly if they’re well-qualified and have in-demand skills. The result is higher hiring and training costs.
TIPS TO IMPROVE AVERAGE SPEED OF ANSWER
Improve call routing
Traditional queue-based routing that routes every caller without any context often means long wait times, especially during busy times of the day. A better approach is to used skills-based routing that matches callers with agents based on select criteria.
Better workforce management
The days of scheduling agents without using insights on call volumes and call trends is officially over. Today’s most efficient contact centers rely heavily on workforce management solutions to effectively manage and schedule agents to help keep the ASA in check.
Incorporating VHT Callback into your call center operations is a highly effective way to reduce ASA. Even with the best planning and forecasting, an unexpected surge in contact center volume can cause longer hold times. By giving callers the option for being contacted by an agent, they don’t have to waste time in the queue.
Trained, experienced agents handle calls more professionally and efficiently which reduces the ASA. They also positively impact nearly every other KPI, too.
Your contact center’s ASA isn’t just a KPI for a report. It is an important metric that indicates the overall success of your operations. By continuously focusing on keeping it in check with proven best practices, you’ll reap benefits that ultimately impact the bottom line.