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What Is Wrap Up Time in the Call Center?

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The Team at CallMiner

December 18, 2015

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In today’s increasingly consumer-driven landscape, it’s more important than ever to strengthen relationships with customers.  Research, in fact, shows almost 75% of companies plan to have a customer-centric strategy in place over the next two years; 43% of businesses plan to have a strategy in place within a year or less.

One of the challenges with providing positive customer experiences, however, is having the right team of agents in place to consistently deliver unparalleled customer service.  In that sense, contact centers are under more pressure than ever to drive efficiency across all levels of the organization.

Getting customer service right means satisfied customers and repeat business – getting it wrong can often mean the loss of customers and a negative perception of the company overall.

So what’s the best way to make contact center improvements that will result in better customer service?

One way is to drill down into agent inefficiencies that may be providing customers with a less than satisfactory experience.  Let’s take a look at how one such inefficiency – agent wrap up time – can be reduced or eliminated with the implementation of speech analytics software.

What Is Wrap Up Time in the Call Center?

Broadly speaking, wrap up time is the post-call work time an agent spends on a call.  Typically, an agent will use disposition codes from a drop down menu that has been pre-populated with likely call reasons and call outcomes.  It varies from organization to organization, but this is traditionally a manual, time-consuming, and incomplete process.

You might also hear wrap up time referred to as “after call work” or “post call processing”. Even though the call with the customer has come to a conclusion, wrap up time is still included in average handling time.

The activities performed in wrap up time include updating the system with call details like resolution, next steps, and customer notes. Agents might also use the time to send emails to kickstart any actions they may have taken on during the call.

While it is quite obviously in the company’s interest for agents to minimize admin tasks in order to spend more time talking directly to customers, it is important that wrap up time is not overlooked completely. Asking agents to double up on wrap up activities while making their next call is not advised and often ends up in a situation where neither task is performed to the fullest – call details are incorrectly entered into the system while the agent gets distracted and does not devote their full attention to the next call. There are some clever ways to minimize wrap up activities that we will cover later in the post, but doubling up wrap up time with the next call is not one of them.

You can calculate average wrap up time at your call center with the following formula:

Average wrap up time = (Total Handling Time – Total Hold Time – Total Talk Time)

                                                          Total Number of Calls Made

The Importance of Wrap Up Time

Wrap up time is an important metric because it shows how much time agents are spending on administrative wrap up activities. Wrap up time can be measured against average handling time to see how much time agents are spending talking to customers. The ideal situation for a call center is minimal wrap up time without taking a hit on the quality of the data entered. By monitoring wrap up time, call centers can figure out exactly which activities agents are performing and figure out how to increase efficiency.

How to Reduce Wrap Up Time

There are a number of ways call centers can reduce wrap up time including:

  • Training: One of the most straightforward ways to reduce wrap up time is to ensure you are training your agents effectively in the systems and processes used during wrap up time. This might mean extra training on your company’s CRM and call center software. Eliminate these all too common inefficiencies by training your agents to be power users of the software and tools used.
  • Automation: Figure out which wrap up tasks can be automated. Do this by drawing up a list of all the tasks agents perform during wrap up time and then asking yourself how many of them could be automated. Weigh up what it will cost to introduce these automation tools against the benefits they will bring. A further benefit of automation is that it reduces the likelihood of human error. One example of automation are speech analytics which automatically categorizes calls into existing disposition codes.
  • Coaching: While training will certainly help reduce wrap up time, it should not be a one-time thing. Coaching and training agents in wrap up best practices should be an ongoing process. It might be an idea for managers to sit in on calls and wrap up time with underperforming agents to help identify and proactively coach in areas they could improve on.
  • Document Processes: The better you document after call work and the processes involved, the faster your agents will be able to handle all of those tasks. Documentation, combined with proper training and coaching, create a highly trained, efficient team.
  • Software: It is imperative that the call center software you implement is intuitive and easy to use. Consumer tools like Google and iTunes have raised the bar in terms of ease of use. Employees today expect that their workplace tools have a similar ease of use. Tools that don’t will suffer from low adoption rates. Assess the tools your agents use during wrap up time and consider if they are suitable in terms of usability.

How Can Speech Analytics Help Eliminate Wrap Up Time?

It stands to reason that reducing wrap up time would result in improvements in agent productivity.  Why?  The answer is simple: Agents spend significant time in wrap up “dispositioning” or categorizing calls.

With speech analytics in place, the processes outlined above can be significantly reduced or totally eliminated.  CallMiner’s Eureka software, for example, automatically categorizes each call into existing (or expanded) disposition codes.

The end result is 100% time savings manually categorizing calls, as well as more accurate data capture.  After aggregating call attributes and other data, the CallMiner Eureka platform:

  • Categorizes all words in each call to determine:
  • Reasons for the call
  • Product or competitors mentioned
  • Participant behaviors
  • Presence of procedural language, outcomes or actions
  • Analyzes language to identify hot topics and topic dynamics based on the analysis of all words
  • Measures acoustic signals for call duration, silence/noise, agitation, stress, and tempo
  • Scores calls by calculating performance indicators per call, rolls up indicators to aggregate indices for tracking key business performance such as customer satisfaction, agent quality, sales performance, etc.

The Bottom Line: Reducing Agent Wrap Up Time Achieves Immediate ROI

Contact Babel’s “U.S. Contact Centers in 2020-2024: The State of the Industry & Technology Penetration” report shows there are 39,950 contact centers in the United States alone, with 3.6 million contact center agent positions. Emerging communications channels, such as web chat, are on the rise, with 1 in 5 contact centers planning to implement web chat within the next 12 months. Additionally, social media customer contact volumes are expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 14% through 2024. What does this mean?

By implementing speech analytics technology, contact centers have the opportunity to realize not just improved agent interactions with customers but significant cost savings as well.  As stated above, automated call categorization eliminates the need to do manual call disposition, freeing up significant blocks of time for each agent and resulting in tremendous savings across the enterprise.

Download our white paper, Reduce Churn and Increase Customer Satisfaction with Speech Analytics, to learn more about how speech analytics can help you improve call center metrics like wrap up time, boost customer satisfaction, and reduce churn.

Expert Tips & Best Practices on Improving Wrap Up Time in the Call Center

1. Set reasonable expectations to massively improve wrap up time.

“A mortgage client realized that it really took an average of 5 minutes of agent wrap-up time to accurately annotate a new mortgage application. By tracking the average wrap-up time of their best mortgage origination sales agents they were able to boost productivity by 50 incremental basis points. First they were able to alter the call pacing (the amount of time between call disposition and next call connection) settings up to 5 minutes. Next, they conducted very targeted training based on the habits that they observed among their very best mortgage originators. Last by certainly not least the changed the compensation for originators and agents upwards after piloting and testing the new processes.

“The net results of tracking then creating processes to take advantage of agent wrap-up times were as follows: (a) more qualified mortgages (b) significant increase in first call loan qualifying (c) lower call volume allowing more time to service borrowers with more complex applications – resulting in an increased volume of approvals.” – Ahmed Macklai, Three Reasons to Keep an Eye on Call Center Agents Wrap Up Time, ChaseData; Twitter: @ChaseData

2. Use abbreviations to cut down on time.

“What do we do to speed-up our messaging outside of work? We use abbreviations.

“Who hasn’t typed ‘lol’ instead of laughed out loud? ‘OMG’ instead of oh my god? Or ‘BTW’ instead of by the way? It really helps us to get to the point quicker.

“So, let’s bring this principle into the contact centre and use appropriate acronyms in our ACW to speed up wrap time.

“Here are a few common examples of contact centre abbreviations for you to try out:

  • CUST: Customer
  • DOB: Date Of Birth
  • FONE: Telephone
  • @: At
  • < / >: Less Than / More Than

“Just make sure that all of your abbreviations are well-taught to advisors and included in a style guide, so that advisors don’t start to use their own, which a future user may not understand.” – What is Wrap Time and How Can I Reduce It?, CallCentreHelper; Twitter: @callcentrehelp

3. Understand the role of policy in wrap time.

“Having to search for the correct information during a call can be a waste of time. That is why in order to reduce your average handle time, it is important to be in the loop and understand different elements of your company’s products and operations. This means being familiar with the following information:

  • Your company’s FAQ section
  • Your company’s products
  • Shipping times
  • Return/refund policy
  • Other elements related to company policy (such as if your company will accept coupons from competitors)
  • Any changes relating to policy, products, or special accounts/events
  • Any active discounts

“Make sure to be aware of this and any other information that you see fit or find yourself referring to often. If you see a need to learn new information, learn it! You will be doing both yourself and your customer a favor, and will be able to reduce AHT through your efforts.

Although digging for the right information may take some time, it is always better than giving out the wrong information. If you are ever unsure of something, don’t be afraid to invest a little bit more time in figuring it out: remember, quality service always comes before speed! Just be sure to give your customer the most precise hold estimate you can while you look up the relevant information; customers typically don’t like to be put on hold without knowing for how long. Whether you ask them to hold for one minute or one moment, they will appreciate the guesstimate.” – Isabella Steele, How to Improve Your Average Handle Time Fast, Comm100; Twitter: @Comm100

Final Thoughts

In today’s competitive, consumer-driven market, the question isn’t “How can we improve interactions with customers?” but instead “What proactive steps can we take to provide exceptional customer experiences?”

Download our guide on how artificial intelligence is being used to improve customer experience!

The above is just a few of the ways speech analytics software can help to reduce or eliminate agent wrap up time in the call center, allowing agents to focus on what matters most: the customer.

How is your organization driving efficiency across the organization?

Additional Resources

To learn more about wrap up time, check out the following resources:

Contact Center Operations Speech Analytics North America EMEA APAC
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