21 Jul What is the point of ACW?
In a contact center, the workflow is rarely ever straightforward. Calls come in and are assigned to different queues, each one a unique interaction that requires a personalized solution. Keeping track of everything discussed in the span of a phone call can be a challenge all in itself! That’s where ACW comes in.
The simple definition of After Call Work (ACW) is that it the task/tasks that an agent processes after the end of an interaction with a customer. It is also referred to as “post-call processing” by people in the contact center industry. During this period, they are unavailable to answer calls and thereby should limit the amount of time they spend on this status.
It goes without saying that these after-call tasks are quite important and should not be in any way underestimated. Efficiency is the name of the game, and it cannot be highlighted here enough. The quicker your team handles their ACW, the better it is for the business.
Before anything else, let’s look at some samples of ACW:
- Note-taking and account summary updates.
- Notes for essential follow-ups, escalations, and callbacks.
- CRM-related tasks.
How to minimize time spent on ACW?
After call work is essential to reach customer success but is also very time-consuming. The goal, as we’ve discussed earlier, is to keep this number to a minimum. How does one go about doing that without compromising integrity and efficiency?
- Train your agents well. Building ACW tendencies during training can go a long way in building positive habits. Follow-up coaching is also a good idea, as it keeps all parties in the loop of common practices and solutions.
- Build an extensive Knowledge Center that is easy to access and understand. When you have this in place, your agents are empowered with a quick and handy solution for any ACW-related tasks. These self-service solutions save you and your support team time, as agents have a knowledge resource they can look into themselves instead of waiting for a response from your subject-matter experts.
- Teach your agents how to multitask, and multitask well. This can be integrated at the beginning of their training, and can be held as a standard of your business. The earlier they are exposed to the multitasking nature of their roles, the quicker they will adapt and become proficient at it. If there are tasks that they can complete during the call, the less time they’ll have to stay on ACW.
- Analyze your call flow and business processes. This is an integral one, as this basically dictates how every call runs and for how long. Are there parts of your call flow that don’t make sense? If so, can you afford to take them out?
- Remove unnecessary tasks with automation. Are there things that customers can do themselves? Basic things like account setup and setting updates can be left to a client, thereby freeing your agents to handle more complicated situations.
- Take note of common ACW-related tasks. Let your agents document repetitive tasks so you can offset and address it outside of the call flow.
- Listen to your agents. They are your frontliners; if there’s anyone with more insight into common trends in the business, it’s them. Lend a patient ear and ask for their suggestions regarding any issues they face on, during, and after the call.
How much time should be spent on ACW?
According to this article from Aircall, “on average, an after-call workflow typically wraps up within two minutes.”
There’s no real metric to this, as the needs of every business varies from one to another. Your company can set your own ACW limit, and it all depends on the factors that affect it. A customer retention queue, for example, might have a longer ACW limit because of all the in-depth investigation that is required for the job.
The general principle is that it should, of course, be kept to an acceptable minimum.
The Implications of After Call Work
Whether we like it or not, there is no way of completely eradicating ACW. It is and always will be a part of the call flow, and an important one at that. The best you can do as a contact center is to put various measures in place to minimize it.
Tasks done by an agent while on ACW have implications that go beyond the end of the initial interaction. Proper execution of these tasks can affect the overall customer journey! For example: if one fails to update the necessary information on the CRM platform and the customer calls in the next time, they expect the changes they requested to be already on there. When it isn’t, it can cause frustration on the customer’s end and can cause unnecessary friction during the call. This can lead to them going over the same things again, and this can be very frustrating. It taints an otherwise seamless initial interaction.
Treating ACW time as an important measure to always be on the lookout for and thinking of it as an integral part of the call flow is the best approach towards minimizing it. Proper training and coaching are the best tools available to you, and helps both the agent and the business overall. An introspective look at the tools and the processes you have also goes a really long way towards improving your metrics.
Just remember, your call flow and everything you do while on it matters and dictates the customer experience. A poorly-constructed flow causes hiccups and wasted time, and in the contact center time is everything.
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