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Behavioural Economics: Driving Efficiencies in Contact Centres

This article was updated on July 16, 2021

One thing is certain, your customers are not interested in the metric of Average Handling Time (AHT).

Your customers are not monitoring and recording the AHT for all their calls – they do not track the Talk Time, Hold Time or Wrap-up Time and they are not interested in what the impact AHT has on your business.

They do want, however, the call to be efficient. Efficiency in the mind of a customer is a dynamic and subjective metric which does not provide an easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage operations.

The most important operational impact of AHT is on resource planning, in any contact centre regardless of the channel. Ultimately if the AHT increases then your costs will increase and if it can be reduced without sacrificing customer service, or even better if the customer experience improves, your profit will increase.

There are a number of factors which can impact the AHT in a contact centre, some of which can be optimised with improved technology. However, a new expensive “multi-tenant global cloud contact centre and inside sales solution” or an “award-winning cloud workforce management application” will not optimise the actual conversation with the customer.

New technology can provide a significant improvement in the management of services for businesses. The service representatives will have a slick new interface which may speed up access to information for improved service delivery and call handling, however, the language used in the conversation with the customer is ignored.

The language your teams use will have a significant impact on the way the customer engages with the information provided and therefore it will have an impact on AHT.

This is where behavioural economics can transform contact centres.

Optimising contact centre call scripts to embed behavioural economics is delivering transformative results for many businesses.

A recent programme with a financial services business reduced AHT by 15%, resulting in an ROI of £16:1.

One of these behavioural economics tools is authority bias, the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure. Customers need to understand that the person on the other end of the call, or web chat, has the authority and experience to deal with the issue confidently and efficiently.

We know that the System I brain responds to subconscious cues of expertise such as a title or the number of years of experience an individual has. Including these cues into the call script at strategic moments will help to reduce AHT.

This is especially relevant for businesses operating in complex regulated environments such as financial services. The expertise of service representatives is often undermined by the important regulatory requirement to emphasise the need for financial advice at key points on the call.

It is critical to be compliant however by following the clear FCA guidelines on the ethical use of behavioural economics in financial services, compliant and ethical conversations can be designed which still provide a strong sense of authority of the service representative to the customer. This will contribute to lowering the AHT by ensuring more efficient conversations.

Adopting new technology to provide an effective multi-channel customer experience is incredibly important and it will contribute to improving AHT, however, these significant investments will only deliver a part of the optimised customer experience your business is seeking.

The thousands of conversations your service representatives have with customers is where the real opportunity for improvement lies.

The changes can be dramatic however in large organisations even the marginal gains of improving AHT by seconds can have significant operational benefits.

Using behavioural economists with proven results in a business like yours will unlock these significant gains.

Discover six steps to building a culture of customer service excellence, by downloading our free insight paper.

Article first published on

Cowry Consulting

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