What is an abandoned call?
As the name suggests an abandoned call is one that was not attended to by the agent. The call could have been abandoned due:
There could also be other reasons that can cause a call to get abandoned. For example, connectivity issues, calls that came in after working hours, etc.
A short and not-so-boring definition of Call center abandonment rate would go like this:
In a call center parlance, an abandoned call is one that was initiated by the caller to the call center but ended abruptly before any conversation could take place.
If you are a customer support manager, a call center manager, or a business owner to whom phone support is a critical channel, you must monitor the call center’s call abandon rate from time to time.
Call abandon rate is one of the key call center metrics that help measure your call center’s efficiency. It is also a yardstick of the customer experience that you are rendering to your callers. A low call abandonment rate means most of your callers are being attended to. A high call abandon rate means you have to rethink your call center strategy.
But, how does one know whether the call abandonment rate is healthy or not?
What is an acceptable abandon rate for a call center?
That forms the premise of this blog. Before we get into that discussion, it is imperative to understand how to calculate the abandon rate in a call center.
Calculating the right call abandon rate helps evaluate the call center’s effectiveness.
Divide the number of abandoned calls by the total number of calls. For example, if your contact center receives 1,000 calls and 50 are abandoned, your abandon rate is 5 percent.
The formula for calculating call abandon rate is in the image below:
Considering call center shrinkage, your call center is bound to have an abandonment rate that pegs around 5% to 8%. However, during extraordinary circumstances, it could jump up to 20%. Recent studies also show that one in five calls from mobile phones is abandoned (Marchex Inc study). When it comes to identifying the abandon rate as good or bad, the thumb rule is to keep it as low as possible.
There are several factors that influence the rate from time to time, some of which include:
Average speed to answer
A low average speed to answer means that the call center is able to resolve as many calls as possible within a given time. However, when it is higher, which could be possibly due to the complexity of the issue or due to staff shortage, the call abandonment rate will also vary accordingly.
Service level targets
Service level targets indicate what proportion of calls is answered within a given time period. For example, an 80/20 service level target indicates that 80% of the calls are answered within 20 seconds. An ambitious service level target helps keep call abandons to a bare minimum.
Call density forecast
Call center managers resort to call density forecasting to determine peak hours during which they will need maximum staffing to achieve service level targets. The call abandon rate will vary depending on the call density forecast and the number of agents available to handle it.
Workforce management is basically the process that a call center manager adopts to plan the agent schedule, determine leave policies, set up IVR menus, or call routing for after working hour calls and so on.
Call center shrinkage
Call center shrinkage can be defined as, “The number of agents actively attending to customers divided by the number of agents who are unavailable at that point in time.” Shrinkage can be owed to breaks, absences, or even unplanned downtime. Needless to say, the abandonment rate would be higher when the call center shrinkage rate is also higher.
After working hour calls
In a call center, calls that come in after working hours are largely abandoned. IVR menus can help to a large extent, however, those customers who are impatient to wait in an IVR or want to talk to an agent typically abandon their calls.
First call resolution rate
IVRs and their self-service menus help a great deal in maximizing the First Call Resolution rate (FCR). It is only when FCR is not achieved that calls are diverse to an agent’s extension. In other words, a high FCR would mean a low call abandonment rate.
These are some factors that influence the call abandonment rates in a call center.
Now how can a call center maintain a healthy abandon rate?
The best way to fix a problem is to get to its root cause.
The best way to fix a problem is to get to its root cause.
Let’s try to understand the main causes of a high call abandonment rate.
If you want to keep your call abandonment rate at a healthy rate, here is what you should not be doing, instead what you should be doing.
Even with these measures if your call center is not able to reduce the call abandon rate, these measures can help.
Offer self-service (IVR)
IVR menus with options to fetch information that users want to ask agents can help reduce abandonment rates. In fact, they eliminate the need for the caller to talk to an agent. As a result, the number of calls getting abandoned would be less.
For example a bank’s customer care number with an IVR option to fetch the latest account balance.
Announce estimated wait time
The prime reason why customers disconnect their calls while putting them on hold because they do not know for how long they have to stay on the line. Announcing the estimated waste of time can enable the caller to decide against disconnecting the call. They will disconnect the call only if the wait time is too long.
Occupy the customer’s time
Holding on to a phone line with a static buzz on the other side is a pain. It just aggravates the caller’s urge to disconnect the call. On the other hand, keeping them occupied with a hold time music, latest offers, announcements, etc. can help reduce call abandons. However, even hold time music and announcements should be used with caution as their wrong placement can lead to poor customer experience.
Reallocate hours (WFM)
Call centers usually work based on the time zones of the countries or regions to which they are offering support. However, this may not exactly match the hours during which the call density is maximum.
Use team dashboards or wallboards
Dashboards or wallboards that exhibit real-time information on key call center metrics can help in boosting overall team morale. They act as an indicator of how the call center as a whole is faring in keeping up with service level targets. If there are too many abandoned calls that go beyond the accepted thresholds, the call center manager can take remedial action.
No call center can ever avoid call abandons. They are natural occurrences in a call center environment. However, you can control and reduce the call abandon rate and ensure that all your callers are properly served.
There are several measures that you can adopt to achieve that. However, there are times when you need more than processes and effective call center software to help you manage things better.
Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman
Animation by Vinoth Krishnan
Freshcaller is a modern-day reimagining of our everyday call center software for customer support, sales, and IT. With Freshcaller’s cloud-based architecture, it brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like Smart Escalations, Call Routing, Custom Call Center Analytics to help you set up a state-of-the-art business call center. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
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