What Does After-Call Work (ACW) Mean at a Call Center?

Samir Sampat

When call center agents hang up the phone, their work isn’t just “done” because they’re finished with the conversation. There are many instances where this is just the start of the process. After-call work, or ACW as it’s known in the industry, is a larger part of the daily routine of these agents than many people realize. But what exactly is after-call work and why does your business need to consider it in addition to the calling services provided? 

The type of ACW that agents handle will vary, depending both on the type of call center as well as the solutions that they have agreed to provide to the companies that outsource to them. Of course, in-house call centers will also have their own after-call work to address. It’s important to understand the process and what kind of work happens when agents aren’t on the phone, so you know exactly what you’re getting (and what you’re paying for) when you choose these solutions. 

What is after-call work and why is it important?

ACW refers to the necessary tasks that must be completed once a phone call with the customer or prospect has been completed. Several types of tasks could be necessary here, including things like updating computer databases, logging contact details and notes about the interaction, scheduling follow-ups, and even updating colleagues and managers as to where things stand. 

ACW is a big part of call center efficiency and current studies show that it takes around six minutes to finish all the after-call details when a call is completed. This, of course, varies on the tasks involved but will also be included as a metric that makes up the average handle time, or AHT. The work involved could be the end of the process or it could be just a midpoint along the way where an agent needs to log an interaction. 

This work is just as important as taking the calls and handling the customer and caller queries and needs in the first place. It helps wrap things up, ensures that the entire organization knows what happened in the interaction and how well the call went, and makes sure that processes and protocols are followed, as necessary. Although it might sound like a lot of work, it’s a simple process that can be broken down into five main actions. 

The processes and steps involved 

Some people have different processes for handling after-call work, but there are five core tasks or steps that will be followed by most call centers:

  1. Logging call details and summarizing notes to record observations, important information, customer concerns or queries, challenges, and what the resolution (if any) was.
  2. Executing any necessary actions, such as forwarding a customer to a manager or tech team based on the issues you're having, updating KYC (know your customer) information, etc. 
  3. Assigning follow-up tasks to themselves or another agent, depending on what follow-up needs to happen. 
  4. Updating the CRM to keep all new information captured and recorded effectively. 
  5. Analyzing feedback from customers, which can help improve agents’ learning curve and help provide a better experience for future callers. 

It’s all about making sure that the call is actually resolved, and that the information has been filed away properly so that it can be found when needed in the future. 

Can ACW help performance or is it a hindrance?

A simple Internet search shows a lot of posts about how to reduce ACW, which leads some people to believe that it’s an expense that needs to be minimized or that it doesn’t offer any performance benefits. Some people like it because it allows you to put a process in place that will standardize and streamline operations. After all, the majority of call centers want to keep agents on calls as much as possible (especially in outbound call centers). 

With that being said, there are some perks to consider here. For starters, ACW gives agents a dedicated window of time to follow up on their interactions. They’re not just taking calls all day and left at the end of the shift to try to put all the notes together (if there’s even time). They can schedule future actions as needed, too. This helps increase productivity and accuracy, as the more time left between calls and tasks means there’s more time to forget things or have to double-back on your work. 

ACW also provides a break where people can just catch their breath, regroup, and take a minute to gather their thoughts. Agents going from call to call without a break will end up experiencing burnout, and often much more quickly than anticipated. While people are taking care of the tasks that need to be tended to after calls, they can give themselves a minute to collect their thoughts so they can give their best in every call. 

Should I attempt to reduce ACW?

By all means, if you can identify inefficiencies that you can improve in your call center processes, you should try to mediate them so that you can make things more efficient, productive, and profitable. Reducing after-call work could mean increasing AI and automated tasks, implementing new software, or even just creating a dedicated process for handling the after-call tasks that need to be addressed so that things are streamlined and standardized. 

Speaking of streamlined, consider a partnership with Smith.ai instead of a traditional call center

The virtual receptionists at Smith.ai will take care of all the work you need with inbound and outbound calls, including everything from providing you with a 24/7 answering service so that no one has to wait for answers to offering support with lead intake, appointment scheduling, and more. We’ll even help you with your outreach campaigns if you need it and create a custom strategy to manage every detail. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for all your communications and admin needs, or reach out to hello@smith.ai

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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