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Lowering average handle time for the help desk

In this expert response, Donna Fluss explains how to streamline the communication process between call center agents and the help desk.

How can I streamline the communication process between call center agents and the internal help desk and reduce help desk average handle time (AHT)?
Based on your question, I am assuming that your call center agents are customer-facing and may need to reach out to your internal help desk while helping customers. If this is the case, the help desk is an invaluable resource and support system for your call center, as it provides information that agents need to accurately and quickly resolve customer inquiries.

External-facing service organizations often put a great deal into call center training, including communications training that enables them to effectively manage customer inquiries and rapidly identify and resolve issues. Internal help desks generally do not receive the same training, but should. Not only would it streamline the handling of calls from your customer service group and reduce AHT, but it would improve their performance in general and would likely improve their overall satisfaction ratings.

You may also want to analyze the root cause of why customer service needs to call the help desk, so that you can address these issues and reduce the volume of calls between the two departments. I suggest that you start by identifying the top 10 to 20 reasons for agents' help desk calls. The easiest way to do this is to ask a group of help desk personnel to keep a weekly tick sheet listing the topics of calls from customer service agents, and then identify the trends. Here are examples of what you are looking for:

  • Are there a few call types, products or procedures that call center agents find confusing or difficult to explain to a customer?

  • Is one particular group of agents relying too heavily on the help desk?

  • Do call center agents need access to documents, such as procedure manuals, that are currently available only to your help desk staff?

  • Are some or all of the call center agents having difficulty navigating through technical procedures?

    Once you determine the nature and scope of the calls being placed by customer service to the help desk, you can develop the most effective plan to address the issue. The plan is likely to include training, coaching, more effective job aids, etc.

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