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Average call duration (ACD) is a term used in telecommunications to describe the average amount of time a given person or group spends on each phone call. This is an important metric, because it helps service providers predict the amount of phone traffic their systems will experience over time. Average call duration also is commonly used to judge the performance of phone operators in various settings, most notably customer service. Such workers are typically expected to help many people during their time at work, so they must try to keep call times low to assist more people over time.
The average call duration metric may be applied to a single person or to a group of people. For individual people, it generally is used to monitor phone habits, particularly in a work environment in which workers are expected to spend a certain amount of time on phone calls. Average call duration measurements also may be taken groups, such as those who live in a certain area or who receive phone service from a particular provider. This metric may be combined with others, such as average time at which calls are made or average number of other people making calls at the same time. All of this information can be used to predict and accommodate phone traffic at a given time.
One of the most common applications of average call duration measurement is monitoring the average amount of time that customer service workers spend helping customers. Customer service call centers tend to receive a great deal of call traffic. To be useful and financially viable, a limited number of customer service operators must help a much larger number of customers. A lengthy average call duration means one is spending too much time helping a single customer and should be dividing that time among multiple customers. Supervisors use average call duration to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of their workers.
Though it does have its uses, average call duration is not a perfect way to measure customer service effectiveness, and it may have a harmful effect on the actual level of service that phone operators are able to offer. They may, for instance, be so focused on keeping call times short that they fail to offer genuine help. Also, if a caller hangs up or is accidentally disconnected early on in a call, the phone operator's average call time may be decreased substantially and unfairly, indicating that he is better at handling a large volume of calls than he actually may be.