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Understanding ACW in Call Centers: Making Sense of After-Call Work

ACW in Call Centers

Call centers play a crucial role in connecting businesses with their customers. Behind every customer interaction, there’s a lot happening, even after the call ends. One important aspect is After Call Work (ACW), also known as wrap time. 

In simple terms, ACW refers to the time call center agents spend doing tasks related to a customer interaction after the call has concluded. Let’s dive deeper into what ACW is, why it matters, and how it works.

What is ACW?

After Call Work involves a set of necessary tasks that agents need to complete once they finish talking to a customer. These tasks include updating systems with call notes, assigning follow-up actions, and inputting any feedback received from the customer. ACW varies based on the nature of the customer’s inquiry and the actions required to resolve it. There isn’t a fixed time for ACW, but it is an important metric that affects the overall efficiency of a call center.

Why is ACW Important?

ACW is a key performance indicator (KPI) that directly influences the efficiency of a call center. It’s not just about the time spent on a call; what happens after the call matters too. According to the International Finance Corporation, an agent takes about 6 minutes to wrap up post-call formalities after each customer interaction. ACW is a critical component of Average Handle Time (AHT), which is the total time an agent spends on a call, including ACW.

Consider a call center with 50 agents handling 5,000 calls per day. If the average handle time is shortened by just 30 seconds, the center can save $250,000 USD each day. This emphasizes how ACW, as part of AHT, directly impacts call duration, agent efficiency, and the overall productivity of a call center.

Steps to Completing ACW

Completing ACW involves several steps, ensuring that customer interactions are properly documented, and necessary actions are taken. While these steps might not cover all scenarios, they provide a general outline for contact centers across different sectors:

  • Logging Call Notes and Summarizing: Agents keep records of noteworthy observations, challenges faced, and new customer queries during the call.
  • Executing Required Actions: Agents perform tasks like forwarding the customer’s case to a technical team or updating Know Your Customer (KYC) information.
  • Assigning an Agent to Follow Up: Ensures that the task is assigned to an agent with the required expertise and authority.
  • Using Notes to Update CRM: Agents proactively track new information about the customer by updating the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
  • Analyzing Customer Feedback: Continuous feedback helps bridge the gap between agents and customers, contributing significantly to the agents’ learning curve.

How Does ACW Improve Agent Performance?

Call centers focus on keeping agents on the call as much as possible to maximize return on investment (ROI). However, ACW is not just a frustrating diversion for agents; it serves a crucial purpose:

  • Follow-Up Time: ACW provides a dedicated window of opportunity for agents to follow up on customer requests, ensuring thorough documentation and updating relevant teams.
  • Increased Productivity: Agents can jot down action points immediately after the call, updating system requirements and covering the entire resolution process comprehensively.
  • Quick Feedback: Supervisors monitoring interactions in real-time can provide quick feedback to agents, tweaking scripts or addressing errors made in the previous call.
  • Time for a Breather: ACW offers short interludes for agents to rest and regroup, preventing burnout caused by continuous customer interactions.

Benefits of Tracking ACW for Contact Centers

Efficient tracking of ACW is essential for maintaining and improving agent performance. Here’s how tracking ACW time can benefit contact centers:

  • Reduced Customer Wait Time: Longer ACW times lead to longer hold times for incoming calls, affecting customer wait times.
  • Highlight Process Issues: Tracking ACW time can reveal underlying operational issues hindering agent efficiency, helping identify and address bottlenecks.
  • Improving Agent Performance: Efficient tracking allows supervisors to coach agents spending too much time on post-call tasks, addressing gaps in training and performance.

What is the Industry Standard for After Call Work in a Call Center?

Determining an industry standard for ACW time is challenging because the complexity of problems and resolution processes varies for each customer. Several variables influence ACW time, making it difficult to establish a one-size-fits-all standard:

  • Sector or Industry: ACW time can vary between industries. Sectors like retail and sales with simpler post-call procedures may have shorter ACW times, while industries like IT and insurance with complex resolution processes may require longer ACW times.
  • Call Type and Complexity: Repetitive problems with standard resolution processes generally result in shorter ACW times, while first-time problems or complex issues may require more time for a customized response.
  • Internal Processes: Internal processes such as detailed documentation and customer information updates can intentionally increase ACW time. Identifying and tweaking these processes based on agent feedback is crucial.
  • Agent Behavior: Agent skills, information levels, typing speed, and call fatigue can significantly impact ACW time. Understanding the reasons behind increased ACW requires a granular analysis of agent performance.

How Can You Reduce After Call Work?

Reducing ACW time is crucial for maintaining efficiency and enhancing customer experience. Here are some effective ways to minimize ACW:

  • Proper Onboarding and Ongoing Training: Set clear expectations during onboarding regarding ACW tasks. Train new hires using experienced agents, familiarizing them with software and emphasizing the value of ACW. Ongoing training should be customized to address individual agent weaknesses in ACW.
  • Customize Software Features: Utilize cloud-based call center software to tailor features to specific ACW needs. Create shared call inboxes for attention-needing calls. Automate processes within calls to reduce ACW time.
  • Seamlessly Integrate With Other Systems: Integrate call center software with other crucial business systems, especially CRM programs. Automatic information upload improves ACW efficiency and reduces errors.
  • Invest in Automation: Automate repetitive tasks to streamline ACW processes. Allow agents to perform most ACW work during the call, entering notes as the customer speaks.
  • Monitor and Refine ACW Procedures: Collect feedback from agents to understand challenges and improve ACW processes. Develop and implement solutions based on agent concerns to enhance overall efficiency.

Final Words

After Call Work is a vital aspect of call center operations, ensuring that customer interactions are documented thoroughly and necessary actions are taken. Tracking and reducing ACW time is essential for maintaining agent performance, improving operational efficiency, and enhancing the overall customer experience. 

As call centers continue to evolve, finding the right balance between minimizing ACW time and delivering quality service remains a key challenge. By implementing effective strategies and leveraging technology, call centers can optimize their ACW processes, contributing to increased customer satisfaction and overall success.