This is a contributed post from our partners at 8x8.
If you operate a call center, it is the frontline of your customer service provision. Depending on your needs, it may deal with customer complaints, technical issues, shipping queries, lead generation, and even sales. It is therefore crucial that you set up your contact center to meet your customers' needs and to operate as efficiently as possible.
No call center is 100% perfect, but you can try and get as close to that mark as possible. One of the major metrics that managers and providers look at to determine success and effectiveness is call abandonment rate. There will always be abandoned calls, but setting a benchmark for performance in this area gives you a good measure of how well your center operates.
So, what is a good call abandonment rate? How do you set targets in this area and how do you ensure you meet those targets?
As mentioned, this is one of the most important metrics tracked in a call center. It helps managers gauge customer habits and satisfaction levels. It is most commonly tracked in inbound call centers, and can be obtained very simply by considering the percentage of calls to the center that are abandoned before the customer connects with an agent. To calculate the percentage, abandoned calls are divided by the total number of calls received.
It is a similar metric to shopping cart abandonment online rates used by eCommerce businesses. A major difference is that with call abandonment rates, there is a direct correlation with waiting times. The longer a customer waits, the more likely they are to hang up the call without speaking to an agent. In fact, Invoca’s Buyer Experience Report found that 59% of callers hang up within 10 minutes of waiting on hold.
Call abandonment rate serves as a revealing metric about a company's customer service performance and overall operational efficiency. After doing some of our own digging, we found that a high call abandonment rate often suggests that customers are experiencing prolonged wait times or encountering difficulties in reaching a representative. This can be indicative of inefficiencies in call center operations, potentially leading to customer frustration and dissatisfaction. The abandonment rate, calculated by the percentage of callers who hang up before reaching an agent, reflects the effectiveness of a company's call handling processes and its ability to meet customer expectations promptly.
Additionally, a high call abandonment rate may signal underlying issues such as understaffing or inadequate customer service resources. It emphasizes the importance of optimizing staffing levels and implementing effective call routing strategies to minimize wait times. Monitoring call abandonment rates is crucial for companies seeking to enhance their customer service operations, as it provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of their call handling processes.
There is a lot of variation in opinions as to what constitutes an ideal call abandonment rate. It is worth noting that achieving a 0% rate is an unlikely scenario unless you operate a specialist center or one with very low call volumes. Abandoned calls are likely to happen in every center, especially in periods in which there are high call volumes.
Furthermore, by analyzing your call abandonment rate you can identify the reasons for abandonments and it may then be possible to determine ways of preventing them. It is maybe best to start by identifying what is a “bad” call abandonment rate; if you experience rates of 10% or higher, there are issues you definitely want to address. Your “comfort zone” should lie somewhere between 4% and 8%.
Another benefit of a good abandonment rate is that it can help reduce your CAC (customer acquisition costs). This should be a major consideration for organizations that have sales as part of their call center model.
Effectively monitoring your call abandonment rate is crucial for maintaining the health of your customer service operations and ensuring business success. A high call abandonment rate can be indicative of inefficiencies in call handling processes, prolonged wait times, or understaffing. Monitoring call abandonment rates provides valuable insights into the overall efficiency of customer service operations, enabling businesses to address issues promptly and reduce customer frustration. By closely tracking this metric, businesses can identify patterns and take proactive measures to optimize staffing levels and call routing strategies.
To calculate call abandonment rate, simply divide the total number of abandoned calls by the total number of calls received and then multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.
(Total Number of Abandoned Calls ÷ Total Number of Calls Received) x 100 = Abandonment Rate %
The formula takes into account the number of callers who disconnect before reaching an agent, providing a clear picture of the proportion of abandoned calls in relation to the total call volume. Regularly calculating the call abandonment rate enables businesses to monitor trends, identify potential issues in call handling processes, and take proactive measures to improve customer service efficiency and satisfaction.
So, let’s assume your rate is sitting above 10%. You realize this is a problem and you want to see that rate lowered. How do you go about reducing it? As one of your most important metrics in call center analysis, it is something you should be monitoring closely and taking action on when needed.
Furthermore, understanding the reason behind the numbers is essential in achieving the ideal rate. Are you not using the best VoIP phone service? Are your agents trained enough? Are customers placed on hold for a long time? Getting to the root cause will help formulate long term resolutions.
Most organizations offer customer support across multiple channels. If you are not already doing so, you should offer support channels other than your call center so customers have the choice of channel that is most convenient for them. Of course, including these other channels should not detract from your primary phone support as typically more than 50% of customers will use the phone to contact your business.
If you integrate other channels, you are reducing the likelihood of customers having to wait for their calls to be answered. It is also worth looking at how asynchronous communication can help improve productivity within your call center. Channels you should consider include:
Conversation intelligence solutions can help you connect customer data as they switch between these channels, so your agents are better informed of the customer journey when they do end up calling.
What leads to call abandonment? In many cases, the answer is simple: long wait times. The most obvious fix to lowering wait times is to increase your workforce, but, of course, implementing that is dependent on budgets. You do have the option of bringing in staff on a part-time basis to cover your busiest periods.
If budget is an issue, or even if it is not an issue, you could consider tweaking your agent schedules. Analyze your various metrics such as call abandonment rate, average waiting time, average speed of answer, any metric available to you, and see if they can help you identify any distinctive patterns in call volume. Are there times where you have excess agent capacity on a regular basis? Does call volume peak at a particular time of the day?
If you can identify any patterns, you can adjust your schedules to give you more agents available during those busy times and fewer at times when call volumes are regularly low. You can then determine whether your actions have lowered your call abandonment rate by continuing to monitor the data on an ongoing basis.
If your call center has not moved forward with automation and tech, you will find that they can be great solutions. They not only make your organization more efficient, but can also vastly improve the customer experience. If you’re looking for the best business phone systems, a major one to consider is an automatic call distribution ACD system, which can ensure calls go to the right agents (or even self-service solutions) without the need for human input, thereby reducing time wastage.
IVR (interactive voice response) can help filter customers and identify their needs, steering them to self-service where relevant or to the exact team needed to handle their query, thus improving your first-call resolution rate and reducing call abandonment.
Other tech to consider includes:
No matter what solutions you bring in, there are inevitably going to be periods in which you are very busy and call waiting times rise. Recognizing that customers have busy lives too and don’t want to be waiting too long, offering a call back (also known as virtual queuing) is a great solution that keeps customers happy and helps protect those important metrics.
By giving the customer the option to request a call back, you lower any potential frustration as well as reducing pressure on your agents. It may even be an option that you switch on and off according to call volume patterns; there is little point in offering call backs in a quiet period where there are low waiting times.
The other advantage of call backs is that the customer does not lose their “place” in the queue. For example, if your system has notified them that they are 15th in line and they choose the call back option, they will still be the 15th customer to be dealt with. They won't have to sit on hold waiting for their turn.
If your callers hang up or abandon without requesting a call back, it can be difficult to determine which you should follow up with. To solve this problem, you can use Invoca’s Lost Sales Recovery feature to get a list of all your missed calls, organized by which are most likely to be quality leads. This will allow you to prioritize your follow-ups and recapture opportunities that may have been lost from customer experience issues.
Finally, you could simply try to reduce your total call volume. This is a tactic that is not always feasible but can help some centers. Why are customers calling? Are there ways you can divert them before making a call? In most cases, a customer will find your contact details from your website, so offering solutions there that reduce the need to call makes good sense.
This ties back to the self-service options discussed earlier. As so many people prefer to seek solutions by themselves, ensuring they can easily access those solutions without making a call means you could see a reduction in call volumes, and accordingly, in your call abandonment rate.
Make sure your website not only offers various channels to contact you, but also has a comprehensive self-service section. For some sectors, offering an online forum means they can discuss issues with their peers. The usual self-service solutions, including videos, FAQs, and a solid knowledge base can ensure that customers are able to help themselves.
Conversation intelligence can also help you reduce your call volumes. The solution tracks which webpages are driving phone calls and analyzes conversations at scale. With these insights, you can understand when people are calling rather than using self-service options — and why. You can then make the right changes to your website to proactively answer customer questions and create a smoother self-serve experience.
Minimizing call abandonment rates is paramount for ensuring a positive customer experience and optimizing the efficiency of call center operations. A high call abandonment rate can lead to customer frustration, negatively impacting satisfaction levels and potentially resulting in lost business. By actively working to reduce call abandonment rates, businesses can enhance customer service and minimize the likelihood of customers disconnecting before reaching an agent.
Best practice strategies, such as optimizing staffing levels and implementing effective call routing, are instrumental in achieving lower abandonment rates, fostering a smoother customer journey.
Call center managers face an ongoing battle to improve center efficiency and to improve customer satisfaction. If you operate an outbound call center, you need to look at ways to increase your outbound sales conversion rates. For inbound centers, you need to concentrate on the various metrics discussed, especially your call abandonment rate.
AI plays a major role in much of the tech that can help improve that efficiency. Watch this webinar on what customers expect from AI and it will give you a better understanding that can lead to improved efficiency and service. By combining new processes and tech, you can achieve better abandonment rates and improve metrics across the board.
To learn more about Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence solution, request your personalized demo.
John Allen is the Director of SEO for 8x8, a leading communication platform and a virtual telephone system with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. John is a marketing professional with over 14 years experience in the field, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, and a myriad of services. He has written for sites like Litextension and PPCHero. Connect with him on LinkedIn.