Workforce Management & Optimization

How to Reduce Your After-Call Work Time

As contact centers increasingly focus on streamlining their process to handle more calls in less time, it’s natural to hone in on metrics. The average time to handle a call gets the most attention, but an important drag on your overall productivity may be after-call work time. Here’s a closer look at what managers need to know about reducing post-call processing time.

What Is After-Call Work Time (ACW)?

ACW, or post-call processing, refers to the work a customer service agent has to do when they hang up a call to ensure issues raised by the customer during the call have been resolved. For example, this might involve typing up notes for the customer relationship management (CRM) system, answering checklist questions, forwarding requests to a supervisor, or checking the status of an order. Post-call processing is any activity that must happen once the customer has disconnected and before an agent is ready to pick up the next call.

Classify Post-Processing Time Correctly

If your agents are using “ACW” designations for any activities other than actually typing up their notes after a call, your post-call times may be inflated. Ensure that your rep status codes include other options for taking a break, meeting with a manager, or stepping out to use the bathroom. High levels of ACW time versus higher levels of time away from the phones due to other reasons must be dealt with in different ways. Make sure your organization has a clear series of codes for different activities reps undertake, and as you assess the data, confirm that they’re being used correctly.

Teach Agents What’s Critical

Don’t require your agents to capture every piece of information that is communicated during a call. Instead, teach them what elements are essential to capture during the call. Many organizations use a variation of:

  • What is the reason for the call?
  • What additional details were provided?
  • What steps did you take to resolve the issue?
  • Are there any follow-up steps that should be noted (e.g., escalation to a manager, a refund to be processed)?
  • Did you capture any useful personal notes that can be referenced during future calls?

Implement Time-Saving Techniques

The industry has developed a number of time-saving techniques that leverage both your agents’ capabilities and technology. To save time on post-call processing:

  • Use a questionnaire that outlines, in question form, the most important data to capture. This helps build a routine and gets your agents focused on the right information.
  • Put customer service agents through a typing course to help increase their average typing speed. Even if you’re hiring strong typists, this is a skill that can always be improved.
  • Develop an internal shorthand, and encourage reps to use it. For example, “CUST” can be used to abbreviate for customer, and so forth.
  • Use copy and paste for standard actions, such as “issued a refund” or “authorized a return.”
  • Audit your post-call processing text on a regular basis to verify it’s helpful, accurate, at the appropriate level of detail, and doesn’t contain any mistakes or inappropriate details.

Customer service notes not only help management understand what’s occurring on the front lines of the organization but they also ensure that your customer service team is always up to date on previous interactions. However, compiling great notes can be a time-consuming process. Invest in training, systems, and strategies to help your reps capture great notes while still effectively managing customer call volumes.