Average Speed of Answer call centre metric definition

Understanding the Average Speed of Answer (ASA) Metric

The Average Speed of Answer metric (or ASA) is used to determine, on average, how long it takes to answer all calls (in seconds) presented to the call centre agents during a specified period.

How is the Average Speed of Answer Calculated?

The ASA formula is:

(Total Waiting Time for Answered Calls) / (Total Number of Answered Calls) x 100  = Average Speed of Answer

For example:

1500 seconds total wait time / 3000 calls answered x 100 = 50 seconds

Let’s consider a practical example to illustrate ASA.

If a call centre receives five calls in a given period with the following time intervals before they are answered: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, and 30 seconds, the total time would be 100 seconds.

The ASA, in this case, would be 100 seconds divided by 5 calls, resulting in an ASA of 20 seconds.

Pros of using ASA as a Metric

1. Customer Satisfaction

A low ASA indicates that customers are being served promptly, contributing to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

2. Efficiency Measurement

ASA is an effective measure of a call centre’s efficiency in handling incoming calls and managing call traffic.

3. Resource Planning

Call centres can use ASA to optimise staffing levels, ensuring they have an adequate number of agents to meet demand during peak times.

4. Benchmarking

ASA provides a benchmark for evaluating performance against industry standards and competitors.

Cons of Using ASA as a Metric

1. Limited Insight

ASA focuses solely on the time it takes to answer a call and may not reflect the overall customer experience or issue resolution time.

2. Neglects Quality

Overemphasis on reducing ASA might lead to neglecting the quality of interactions, impacting customer satisfaction.

3. Queue Abandonment

Long wait times, even with a low ASA, may result in customers abandoning the queue, affecting overall customer experience.

Remember, ASA just measures the time to ANSWER the call, but what happens AFTER the call is answered is ignored by the ASA metric.

Two Risks with Average Speed of Answer

ASA is one of the most commonly used metrics in call centres along with Grade of Service; however, it’s also widely misunderstood and can hide two nasty truths outlined below.

We say ‘can’ because there are a lot of different configurations and settings but we find the two issues below very common in most call centre technology configurations.

1. Abandoned Calls are not included

Average Speed of Answer is only counted when calls are answered.

If a customer abandons the call while they are in the queue, that call is NOT counted in ASA results.

And when do customers typically abandon?

When they have to wait too long…

So often the customers that experienced the longest wait times and got sick of waiting are excluded from the AHT.

Paints a rather misleading picture, doesn’t it?

2. IVR time is not included

The Average Speed of Answer clock does not start ticking until the customer has been placed into a queue and waiting for a call centre agent.

If you have a lengthy and painful IVR,  the time that a customer spent during that process does is not included.

Again, that can mask the true experience for a customer.

Tips on How to Improve your ASA (Average Speed of Answer)

If you are trying to improve your ASA, the majority of the tips fall into what is known as Workforce Optimisation (WFM/WFO).

1. Optimise Staffing Levels:

Analyse historical call data to identify peak call times and schedule more agents during these periods.

2. Implement Intelligent Call Routing

Utilise advanced call routing systems to direct calls to the most appropriate and available agents (aka Skills Based Routing).

3. Utilise Technology

Implement chatbots or interactive voice response (IVR) systems to handle routine queries, reducing the load on live agents.

4. Agent Training

Provide training to agents to enhance their efficiency in call handling, reducing call resolution times.

5. Regular Performance Reviews

Conduct regular reviews of call centre performance to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.

ASA Industry Benchmarks

In the latest Australian Contact Centre Best Practice report,  the Average Speed of Answer decreased from 132 seconds in 2022 to 101 seconds in 2023.

You’ll also find current information on the Average Wait Times for Call Centres in Australia on the Call Centre Rankings Reports >

In conclusion, while Average Speed of Answer (ASA) is a valuable metric for evaluating call centre efficiency, it should be considered alongside other metrics to ensure a holistic assessment of performance.

By understanding the pros and cons of ASA and implementing strategies to improve it, call centres can enhance customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.

Read: 10 Most Popular Call Centre Metrics Explained >

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