What Is After-Call Work?
After-call work (ACW) describes the actions an agent needs to take after interacting with a customer.
Common ACW activities include logging why the customer got in touch, the outcome of the interaction, updating company systems on details of what was discussed and scheduling any follow-up actions.
The after-call summary activity required will depend on the type of customer interaction, the industry you operate in and the complexity of the issue discussed.
Many organizations struggle to effectively manage ACW due to challenges like a lack of clarity around what constitutes ACW, how to measure it accurately and how to help agents minimize it while maintaining high-quality customer support.
Because ACW can significantly impact other metrics, like your company’s average handle time (AHT), it must be closely monitored.
Why Is ACW Important?
After-call work is about more than just wrapping up loose ends—it is essential for delivering consistent, high-quality customer service.
Following a customer interaction, agents must categorize and log the call, document and summarize notes of what was discussed, input information into systems like customer relationship management (CRM) tools and perform follow-up tasks like sending confirmation emails or scheduling follow-ups.
While these tasks are often repetitive and time-consuming, they are crucial to maintaining positive customer relationships.
For example, ACW can directly impact:
How well an agent interacts with callers is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction. But equally important is how well they follow up and deliver on the actions discussed and promised during the call.
Failing to follow through on an agreed action or forgetting to schedule another call will likely harm the customer’s opinion of your brand.
An effective ACW process can help you accurately document customer interactions. This is crucial to complying with stringent regulatory requirements in industries like finance, healthcare and telecommunications and maintaining robust audit trails.
A straightforward ACW process ensures agents accurately record all information about a customer interaction.
This makes it easier to provide quality assurance, helping your team refer back to historical conversations, monitor customer history and deliver on customer requirements.
ACW also offers valuable insights into agent performance and the quality and efficiency of customer calls.
Given that many ACW tasks can be highly repetitive, tracking the process helps you monitor whether agents are spending too much time on specific actions, and allows you to provide instant coaching and pinpoint gaps in agent training processes.
Reduced Wait Times:
Long waiting times are among the most significant contributors to poor customer satisfaction. An efficient ACW process helps minimize missed or abandoned calls and reduces the time customers spend on hold.
Besides monitoring agent performance, ACW ensures the most suitable agents manage the right tasks. It’s essential to have specific functions, like updating CMS systems and sending follow-up emails, assigned to the appropriate employees.
You can use insights from across the ACW process to identify areas for improvement. This includes using customer call data to evolve agent training and making data-driven decisions around the customer experience.
How to Calculate ACW
After-call work is typically calculated by dividing the amount of time spent resolving issues after customer calls by the total number of calls taken over the same period of time.
For example, if a team of call agents spends 420 minutes (seven hours) working on ACW activities while handling 210 customer calls per day, the ACW would be two minutes.
How Long Does After-Call Work Usually Take?
Measuring how long ACW will take depends on the specific after-call summary activity required.
It goes beyond the time spent on the phone with a customer and the time the caller spends on hold to include all follow-up tasks.
It’s therefore vital to make your ACW process as simple and repeatable as possible to limit the work required of agents.
A 2020 study found the overall average for AHT, which includes ACW activity, is six minutes and 10 seconds, using Call Centre Helper’s Erlang Calculator.
While that number may vary from industry to industry and business to business, the fact remains the same: slow processes and longer waiting times can impact customer satisfaction and cost money.
Why It’s Important to Reduce ACW
Because it impacts so many other processes, ACW issues can easily snowball into bigger problems down the line.
Organizations that don’t track after-call work activities or have inefficient processes in place to streamline it are likely to experience poor agent productivity and efficiency.
Consequently, the benefits of reducing ACW include:
Increased Call Volume Handling:
A clear benefit of reducing the amount of after-call work agents must do is having them available to take more incoming calls.
The quicker call agents can handle ACW summary activity and action customers’ needs, the more time they can spend handling new cases.
A poorly performing ACW process can be a significant cost burden. Call agents who spend time on repetitive and mundane tasks are less likely to function effectively, which may lead to mistakes, broken promises and a loss in customer satisfaction.
Better Performance Metrics:
Reducing ACW helps call agents become more efficient and spend less time on repetitive tasks.
As a result, you can refine performance metrics to identify the tasks that take the most time to complete and better manage agent time.
Reduced Agent Burnout:
Working on the same tasks repeatedly is a key contributor to agent burnout and job dissatisfaction.
Removing these manual tasks from agents’ to-do lists can help boost job enjoyment and keep agents working on what they do best—speaking to customers.
You can use data from ACW activity to eliminate inefficient or redundant steps. For example, rather than having call agents email managers when a customer makes a complaint, it may be more effective for them to simply forward the recording.
Using data to optimize ACW can reduce the amount of after-call work required and streamline business processes.
7 Tips to Reduce After-Call Work
You can reduce the time agents spend on ACW and fine-tune your AHT by deploying conversational AI and automation tools and technologies.
Creating a checklist for automating after-call work can help. Here are seven tips to consider for reducing ACW:
1. Use AI to Streamline and Automate After-Call Work
Artificial intelligence technologies are transforming how contact centres manage customer interactions. Businesses today can easily reduce ACW and AHT with conversational AI and automation.
For example, automating ACW can slash the amount of activity agents are tasked with. Modern AI systems can analyze and transcribe calls in real time and automate tasks like call summarization, data entry and call categorization.
AI plays a crucial role throughout every customer interaction. It starts by automatically transferring a self-service customer who requests to speak to a call agent to the most appropriate person.
During the call, AI tools like real-time agent coaching software can detect the customer’s emotion, sentiment and intent, provide real-time coaching, suggest actions to the agent and transcribe the call.
When the customer hangs up, the AI tool presents a call summary for the agent to edit and confirm and automatically updates the CRM for them.
2. Invest in Conversational AI to Achieve Measurable Results
Multimodal conversational AI tools can analyze ongoing calls and automate repetitive tasks like manual data entry.
This helps to improve agent efficiency, ensure quality and consistency across ACW activity and reduce AHT.
Additionally, conversational AI capabilities boost call agent performance, enabling them to focus entirely on the interaction rather than trying to capture every detail and action.
For example, a global telecom leader with more than 40,000 agents worldwide was able to shave 15 seconds from its ACW—a 30 percent reduction—using Uniphore’s U-Assist after-call solution.
That drop in ACW time helped the company shorten its AHT by a whole minute. That’s significant when you’re fielding millions of calls in hundreds of languages each year. Additionally, the solution was able to improve call summary accuracy by 80 percent.
3. Train Agents on ACW Best Practices
For any ACW strategy to be effective, call agents must first comprehend how the process and technologies work.
Training agents on ACW best practices and the tasks best suited to automation can help them understand the tools they need to work more effectively.
Critical contact centre technologies include:
Advanced AI technologies that recognize and understand human interaction in multiple languages. The technology can analyze and optimize conversations in real time across various channels.
Natural Language Processing and Understanding (NLP and NLU):
Linguistic theories that guide conversational AI, helping computers understand and interpret human language.
Intelligent decision-support systems that use machine learning to discover insights, patterns and relationships. These systems can automate the steps humans would take to analyze vast datasets.
AI-powered software that uses rules engines, alerts and notifications and user interfaces to handle specific contact centre use cases, such as agent assistance and self-service.
4. Empower Agents to Achieve First Call Resolution
Achieving first call resolution (FCR) is vital to delivering the level of support that customers love.
AI-driven agent assist solutions, like U-Assist, empower agents to solve customer challenges as quickly as possible and fully meet their needs the first time they get in contact.
This shortens the amount of ACW agents must perform, since fewer follow-up actions are often required.
5. Regularly Review and Optimize ACW Processes
Reducing ACW isn’t a one-and-done exercise. You should constantly analyze and review the performance of an ACW process to ensure it’s delivering on customer requirements.
Regularly review how much time call agents spend on ACW tasks and how successfully they resolve customer issues.
Analyzing performance will help to refine processes, reduce inefficiency, help agents understand their challenges and unlock opportunities to refine the ACW approach.
6. Use AI to Streamline Call Routing
Effective call routing is one of the easiest ways to optimize call time and, subsequently, reduce after-call work.
By building AI into your interactive voice response (IVR) systems, you can direct incoming customer calls to the appropriate service department and avoid the dreaded transfer queue.
Call routing software that uses AI lets you respond to customers faster and more accurately, enhance customer experience and minimize friction points that prolong AHT and ACW.
7. Monitor and Optimize Agent Performance
Contact centre leaders must regularly monitor call agent performance to pinpoint areas for improvement and minimize the chances of human error.
Constructive feedback and real-time coaching can help call agents deliver the best possible customer experience.
The best results can be achieved by focusing on tasks that help agents become more efficient and reduce ACW, such as effective resource management, call handling techniques and system navigation.
The Impact of Effective ACW Management: Case Studies
Effective ACW processes can significantly impact business operations, customer support and engagement and your profit and revenue.
Examples of effective ACW management in practice include:
Uniphore’s conversational AI technology helped a healthcare company with more than 1,000 agents reduce ACW by 80 percent and AHT by 20 percent. Those savings, alongside wider automation benefits, helped the company save more than $6 million annually.
As mentioned earlier, one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies slashed ACW and AHT by automating call summarization and data entry with Uniphore’s U-Assist.
Using the solution’s after-call capabilities, the company was able to improve call accuracy (by 80 percent), drive customer satisfaction and enable more efficient—and cost-effective—resource allocation during surges in call traffic.
Discount Bank, a retail bank in Tel Aviv, Israel, had accumulated multiple systems that bank tellers had to regularly switch between, causing human errors, long wait times and poor customer experience.
Working with Uniphore, the bank unified its systems, providing one-time authentication to keep bankers logged into relevant systems and ensure they can help multiple customers simultaneously.
These productivity improvements delivered operational efficiency and an enhanced customer experience.
Automate Your ACW
Technology can help you create better agent and customer experiences. Products provide real-time guidance to help agents easily navigate customer conversations, quickly resolve any issues and automate ACW tasks.
The technology also helps remove the guesswork from call flow processes, providing in-call alerts and actions to guide agents in real time.
These prompts guarantee a consistent user experience, empower call agents to become subject matter experts, resolve issues while the customer is still on the line and ensure all promises made during a call are kept.
As a result, agents spend more time answering calls and speaking with customers and less time performing tedious after-call tasks.
The benefits include:
- 75% reduction in agent onboarding time
- 20% improvement in FCR
- 20% reduction in AHT
- 80% reduction in call agent errors
Frequently Asked Questions About ACW
How Is ACW Time Calculated?
ACW time is calculated by dividing the total amount of time call agents spend resolving issues after customer calls by the total number of calls they handle over the same period.
What Are the Common After-Call Tasks?
Common after-call work tasks include manual, repetitive activities, like logging the reason a customer got in touch and the outcome of the interaction.
Other examples of ACW include transcribing a customer call, documenting and summarizing the notes, inputting data into CRM systems, sending confirmation emails and scheduling follow-ups.
How Does ACW Impact Average Handle Time (AHT)?
The more ACW tasks call agents must complete, the longer it takes them to resolve a customer’s issue. So, call agents will a high level of ACW will increase their AHT.
How Can AI Reduce After-Call Work in a Call Centre?
Contact centres can reduce the amount of after-call summary activity their agents need to do by using AI and automation to simplify their processes.
By analyzing and transcribing spoken customer input, conversational AI can quickly auto-populate form fields, eliminating time-consuming data entry tasks.
ACW can also be reduced through practical agent training, empowering first-call resolution and regularly refining the ACW process.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Uniphore – View the Original Article
For more information about Uniphore - visit the Uniphore Website
Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.