What is After-Call Work (ACW) or Post-Call Processing? Tips, Industry Standards & More

A Definition of After-Call Work

After-call work, also known as post-call processing or agent wrap-up time, refers to the tasks agents must complete after a call is completed. In some cases, these terms are used to indicate the time between two inbound calls, or the time during which agents are unavailable to take another call while documenting a previous contact.

How Post-Call Processing Works

When a call center agent completes an interaction with a customer, their work is not done. Agents are required to fill out forms, enter notes, and document details about the call, including:

  • Reason for the call
  • Category
  • Relevant products or services
  • Outcome of the call
  • Specific customer concerns
  • Competitors mentioned
  • Order notes
  • Next steps or follow-ups

Typically, post-call processing is a time-consuming manual process, and agents are unavailable to take other inbound calls during this time. Providing adequate context for other agents and representatives for future communications requires the documentation of many details about each customer interaction. In some cases, agents must forward information to other representatives to follow-up with a customer or make outbound calls to gather information needed to offer the customer a resolution.

While the specific steps and documentation necessary for post-call processing may vary from company to company, every call center has some form of after-call work that agents must complete following each interaction.

Challenges of After-Call Work

Many call centers have attempted to streamline after-call work by offering drop-down menu options to enable agents to quickly and easily enter the necessary information about each call. However, with hundreds of possible reasons for each customer call and a variety of potential outcomes, this process takes a great deal of time. Manual data entry is not only time-consuming but often inaccurate due to human error and incomplete due to time constraints.

Pressure to increase productivity may lead agents to skip seemingly inconsequential portions of post-call processing. Agents may take another inbound call in order to meet quotas while still documenting details from the last call, increasing the likelihood of human error and hindering the agent’s ability to give their undivided attention to the customer currently on the line.

Customers, however, expect that companies are prepared with their account information and details regarding their prior interactions. It’s frustrating for consumers to contact call centers only to have to rehash all the details that they’ve already provided to another agent. What’s more, when an agent takes an inbound call, customers expect to have their undivided attention. Distracted, multi-tasking agents simply can’t provide the level of attention that today’s customers demand. Additionally, distraction hinders an agent’s performance in meeting regulatory requirements and offering prompt, appropriate resolutions for customer concerns.

Best Practices for Post-Call Processing

Given the challenges associated with ever-rising pressure to increase productivity and efficiency, after-call work is a major pain point for many call centers. Too often, attempts to speed post-call processing result in errors and inaccurate, incomplete documentation, creating a domino effect of poor customer service throughout the customer lifecycle.

There are some effective strategies that aid call centers in boosting performance and reducing post-call processing time without hindering quality, however. For example, to:

  • Offer comprehensive training to empower agents with the knowledge and skill to enter call documentation with greater speed and accuracy.
  • Implement standard abbreviations used throughout the company.
  • Train agents to readily pinpoint documentation errors in blocks of text, form entry, and other post-call processing formats.
  • Provide templates and train agents to reuse and recycle relevant blocks of text for large volumes of calls of the same nature. For instance, agents handling calls about a service outage who are offering discounts on services as a problem resolution could use the same block of text to document most such calls, making changes where necessary, rather than spending time typing the same information repeatedly.
  • Solicit feedback from agents and other customer-facing representatives. Often, challenges arise for other agents and representatives when they must rely on incomplete and inaccurate information documented by other agents who have previously interacted with a customer. Therefore, soliciting feedback on the quality and usefulness of post-call processing documentation is an effective strategy for identifying shortcomings and implementing continuous quality improvement measures.
  • Use speech analytics to automate after-call work. Post-call processing is time-consuming, meaning any reduction in processing time enables agents to handle more inbound calls, resulting in a direct ROI. Automation also eliminates the risk of human error by reducing manual data entry requirements or, in some cases, eliminating manual entry altogether. Speech analytics tools with the capability to automate call categorization, the reason for each call, and detect language that indicates outcomes, actions, or follow-up needs dramatically reduce after-call work demands for agents, freeing them up to increase their inbound call volume.

After-call work is a common pain point for call center operations, impacting productivity and having an impact on customer service throughout the entire customer relationship. By implementing effective agent training, the use of standardized methodology, continuous quality improvement initiatives, and utilizing speech analytics solutions to automate after-call work, call centers can reduce or eliminate post-call processing challenges for substantial gains in productivity and ROI.

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