How to Improve Call Center ACW

Howard Schulman

After call work (ACW) is commonly referred to as wrap time in call centers. What is call center ACW? ACW is time devoted to post-call processing in which agents update their systems with call notes, assign follow-up actions, and input any customer feedback they received. In some instances, ACW may involve making outbound calls or sending emails to ensure the caller’s inquiry is resolved in the most timely way possible.

What Does Call Center ACW Entail?

There are numerous tasks that ACW entails. The start of ACW doesn’t begin until after a call with a customer has been completed. ACW is just as important as the call itself. It provides valuable insight as to how pleased the customer was and whether or not the inquiry was resolved. The purpose of measuring ACW is to improve the quality of service a call agent is able to provide, thus resulting in improved customer satisfaction levels.

There are four primary steps when completing Call Center ACW:

  1. Logging any call notes and providing a thorough summary
  2. Executing any required actions
  3. Assigning an agent to conduct a follow-up
  4. Using call notes to update the CRM or help-desk tickets
  5. Analyzing customer feedback

Who is Measuring ACW?

In call centers, only 24% assess agents’ performance on their ability to efficiently handle ACW. 19% say they are making excellent progress in this area while 32% are just starting to use ACW as a metric for agent performance.

Often, customer service agents don’t do after call work, follow up with customers, or keep promises made to customers. After all, while those actions would positively impact customer experience, they would negatively impact AHT [average handling time] numbers.

Call center managers and agents are under pressure to reduce AHT all while delivering great customer experience. If agents are bogged down with ACW tasks, they may end up reducing the quality of their calls – thereby hurting CX.

Below are easy ways to reduce call center ACW and improve CX.

Proper Onboarding and Ongoing Training

ACW is necessary and vital to the overall NPS of a call center. There are ways to improve ACW, and it starts with proper training. The standards you set during onboarding will reflect your agents’ future performance.

It is essential to make it very clear as to what is expected of the agents and the proper communication methods they can use when they have questions. You’ll also need to outline what is expected of them regarding their ACW.

For example: Teach agents how to correctly handle tags and assign follow-up tasks to the appropriate entities. Show them how to type in shorthand and how to proofread information in a painless and quick manner.New call-to-action

New hires should be trained by your best agents who can familiarize them with the software they will be using. You’ll need to ensure the software has a user-friendly interface. Hold meetings that outline the consequences of poor ACW and how it impacts all operations. The more they understand the true value of ACW, the faster they will be able to complete it thoroughly and effectively with each call they handle.

Every agent has room for improvement. Training shouldn’t stop after onboarding. With this in mind, you must monitor agent performance and provide ongoing training that focuses on each agent’s ACW weaknesses. Not every agent is going to struggle in the same areas. Some may struggle with assigning follow-up tasks while others may have difficulty proofreading their own notes. Monitoring agents on an individual basis will allow you to pinpoint their unique weaknesses and then create customized training that improves their ACW.

Customize Software Features

A notable advantage of using cloud-based call center software is the ability to tailor it to your business’ unique ACW needs. For example: Use the software’s ability to create a shared call inbox where agents can log in and view which calls require attention. Managers can maintain a thorough view of all calls that have been handled within a certain period of time. It allows them to see which agents are struggling with ACW and which ones can be used as trainers during the new hire onboarding process.

Another great example of reducing the agents ACW is through automated processing, have the customer read terms and conditions, complete a form, sign documents, and finalize payments, all while the agent is guiding the customer and taking notes to complete the transaction or any other kind of ACW.

Being able to do all of this within the call itself cuts down on ACW. It also results in a better customer experience, which increases customer loyalty and NPS. And since almost all ACW can be handled within the call, it allows agents to move on faster to the next caller; this improves contact center SLA and augments superior contact center efficiencies.

Seamlessly Integrate With Other Systems

One of the best ways to improve ACW is to integrate call center software with other important business systems, particularly CRM programs. It can be time-consuming and laborious having to move from one system to the next and updating each system with call notes from the call center software. If you integrate the systems together, though, the information will automatically upload itself into each system.

This not only provides a better view of all call center activities, but it greatly increases ACW efficiency. It also mitigates errors that are likely to occur when information is manually uploaded. Because it’s automatic, you can rest easy knowing the correct information is being uploaded to each program, including your help desk software, CRM, and more.

Invest in Automation

Automation may seem daunting at first, but the truth is, the automation of repetitive tasks is going to streamline ACW processes and tasks. It can slash the ACW process by several minutes, which adds up to thousands upon thousands of saved hours each year.

Not every task needs to be automated. You need to assess the ACW process to determine which processes should be automated and which ones require an agent’s individual attention before being completed.

The ultimate goal, however, is to ensure the agent can perform almost all ACW work during the actual call. For example: Call notes can be entered as the customer is speaking (multi-tasking). Once the call has ended, the agent can quickly proofread the notes, tag the appropriate follow-up entity, and submit the information.

Monitor and Refine Call Center ACW Procedures

As a business grows, its needs will change, and this applies to the needs of your customers and your agents. Acquiring agent feedback is crucial to understanding where they are struggling and how the ACW process can be improved. Your agents are at the heart of your customer service operations, and they know better than anyone how the ACW process can be tweaked to make it more effective and efficient.

You can create a feedback loop that ensures you are collecting valuable feedback from your agents. It will involve collecting and analyzing data and then developing and implementing appropriate solutions. Your agents’ concerns and challenges should be heavily focused on when creating these solutions as they will guide the entire ACW process to being more efficient.

Looking for a way to reduce ACW? Lightico specializes in expediting customer calls through the use of innovative smart automation and collaborative tools and resources. By equipping your agents with critical tools that allow them to work with the customer in real-time, Lightico reduces ACW. Lightico helps clients pinpoint repetitive processes to further improve ACW, and improve other major Call Center KPIs.

Want to learn more? Watch this 1 minute video

New call-to-action

Get Started Today