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300 seconds… Prepare for stress! May 21, 2009

Posted by tomcwu in TalkTalk, Targets.

300posterUnlike gory fantasy film 300, Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk Average Handling Time (AHT) target for customer calls involves very little glory.  Instead, workers – and probably customers – must prepare… for stress.

If we cast out minds back in to the depths of mythical time (or just a few years – sorry, got a bit carried away there) we can remember the day when the AHT target was 369 seconds. Enough to give a little leeway for the advisor to deliver a quality First Time Fix – which is what every customer wants.

What has happened since then?

a) customers have learned to speak 30% quicker since 2006 so the reduced target is understandable

b) since technology and procedures have been static over the last three years, and staff turnover is low, advisors will now be familiar with all customer issues.

c) nothing relevant.  They are just putting on the squeeze and not thinking about what this means for workers or customers.

Carphone Worker believes that it is neither a) nor b).

One Carphone Warehouse employee told Carphone Worker yesterday that “you can cut the atmosphere with a knife” on the calling floor.  When targets are too high, it’s no good for workers, and no good for customers.  As we noted in a previous post, overly intense work pacing and lack of control over work are demonstrably unhealthy for call centre workers – and of course it’s no good for the customer either, as workers are stressed and watching the clock.

Workers can either accept that the pace of work will continue to intensify, or they can decide to stick together and say enough is enough.  No more managing people out of work, no more higher targets, for lower real pay, and less sociable shifts.  An active, organised union is a tool for workers to achieve those things.  It’d be legendary, eh?



1. David - May 23, 2009

I can understand why they dont want employees to call retail support for information thats on touch, but for customers! You cant target a customer call in seconds. Surely it would make more sense to have something similar to retails new customer vision score where customers get a text, leave comments and a rating system, which affects managers bonus. This would stop staff wasting time for the sake of it, allow supervisors to see whos performing well rather then just getting customers off the phone asap.

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