What is Average Handle Time?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 1, 2023

1 minutes

Customer Experience

Average Handle Time refers to the average amount of time it takes for a customer service representative to handle a customer interaction, from the beginning to the end. It is an important metric used in customer experience management to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of customer service operations.


  • An example of Average Handle Time is when a customer calls a helpline and the call center agent spends 5 minutes resolving the customer's issue. If this is consistent across multiple interactions, the Average Handle Time would be 5 minutes.


Average Handle Time is a crucial metric for businesses as it directly impacts customer satisfaction, operational costs, and overall business efficiency. Here's why it is important:

  • Customer Satisfaction: A shorter Average Handle Time indicates that customers are getting their issues resolved quickly, leading to higher customer satisfaction levels.
  • Operational Costs: By measuring and optimizing Average Handle Time, businesses can identify areas where efficiency can be improved, potentially reducing operational costs.

How to Use Average Handle Time

Here are some ways to effectively use Average Handle Time:

  1. Benchmarking: Compare Average Handle Time across different teams, agents, or time periods to identify top performers and areas for improvement.
  2. Identify Training Needs: Analyze Average Handle Time to identify areas where agents may require additional training or support.
  3. Process Improvement: Use Average Handle Time data to identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in customer service processes and take necessary steps to improve them.
  4. Set Targets: Establish realistic Average Handle Time targets for agents and teams to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

Useful Tips

Consider the following tips to optimize Average Handle Time:

  • Streamline Processes: Simplify and optimize customer service processes to reduce unnecessary steps and minimize handling time.
  • Provide Training: Regularly train and upskill customer service agents to improve their problem-solving and communication skills.
  • Use Technology: Utilize customer service tools and technologies such as knowledge bases, CRM systems, and automation to expedite interactions and reduce handle time.


Average Handle Time (AHT) is a metric used in customer service to measure the average duration of a customer interaction, including the time spent talking to a customer and any related tasks or after-call work.
Average Handle Time is important because it helps organizations assess the efficiency and productivity of their customer service team. It can also be used as a benchmark to identify areas for improvement and optimize resource allocation.
To calculate Average Handle Time, you add up the total handle time for all customer interactions within a given period and divide it by the total number of interactions.
Several factors can affect Average Handle Time, such as the complexity of customer inquiries, the proficiency of customer service agents, the availability of necessary information or tools, and the quality of the customer service software being used.
Not necessarily. While a lower Average Handle Time may indicate higher efficiency, it should not come at the expense of customer satisfaction. Balancing efficiency with quality service is crucial to achieving a positive customer experience.
Organizations can reduce Average Handle Time by providing comprehensive training to customer service agents, improving access to information and tools, implementing efficient call routing systems, and adopting customer service software with automation capabilities.
Solely focusing on reducing Average Handle Time may lead to rushed interactions, decreased customer satisfaction, and missed opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. It is essential to find a balance between efficiency and delivering a superior customer experience.
Yes, Average Handle Time can vary across different channels of customer support. For instance, handling a query via live chat may have a shorter Average Handle Time compared to resolving an issue over the phone.
Organizations should regularly monitor and analyze Average Handle Time to identify trends, evaluate the impact of process changes, and ensure ongoing improvement. The frequency may vary depending on the organization's size and customer service volume.
Yes, there are industry benchmarks for Average Handle Time that can help organizations assess their performance compared to their peers. These benchmarks consider factors such as the industry, customer segment, and complexity of interactions.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben, the founder of Boei, leverages over a decade of consultancy experience at Ernst & Young to optimize lead generation. Boei specializes in converting website visitors into qualified leads. Outside of work, Ruben is passionate about crossfit and enjoys gaming occasionally.

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use Average Handle Time
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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