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What is “talk time”?

In call centers, talk time isn’t just a metric but the basis of payment too.


For call center agents the phrase “talk time” has another meaning, outside of their cell phone plan. In a call center, talk time is the amount of time the agent spends with a customer on the telephone. It begins with the initial greeting and ends with the disconnect.

Many metrics are developed to measure different aspects of talk time, and agents are evaluated on these metrics. However, more important than that, it can be used to determine an agent’s pay. Call center pay structures vary--some pay hourly and some pay on a per-minute and per-call basis. In the non-hourly pay structures, agents are paid only for talk time, not for time waiting for calls.

In addition to sales commissions and bonuses, incentives, another aspect to both hourly and per-minute/per-call pay, can be based on various metrics that involved talk time. While the metrics below are often used by managers to measure the performance of a whole center or a group, these can be applied on individuals as well.

  • Average talk time - the average number of minutes an agents is on the phone with each customer.
  • Wrap time or after -call work (ACW) - the amount of time it takes an agent to complete non-talk time tasks related to a call Average handle time (AHT) = the average of the number of minutes all aspect of a phone call, including ATT and ACW

For more information about home call centers, read this Call Center FAQ.

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