Abandoned calls in your call center represent missed opportunities for excellent customer service. Whatever the reason for the abandoned call, the reality is this: the customer who needed to contact your organization didn’t get what they needed, and that doesn’t spell success. But with the right strategies, you can minimize your call abandon rate and deliver the experience your customers expect.
What is call abandonment rate?
The abandonment rate is a percentage of how many calls hang up before speaking to an agent versus the total number of incoming calls. You can calculate your abandon call rate by dividing how many abandoned calls you receive by the number of total calls. Configured properly, your CRM system should be equipped to track these numbers and effectively reduce abandoned calls in your call center.
Are you measuring your call abandonment rate accurately?
It’s important to understand how to properly measure abandonment rates. Many companies choose not to include calls lasting less than five seconds in their abandoned call percentage. These calls are presumably misdials that have little to do with your system or your contact center agents.
Be sure to begin tracking calls as they come through the IVR (interactive voice response) system, rather than waiting to count calls that arrive at agents’ queues. The number of callers abandoning their queries during the IVR phase of the call can be important for tracking call rate.
Lastly, don’t double-count calls transferred from one agent or department to another. Doing so artificially enhances your abandonment rate, giving a misleading interpretation of your metrics. Properly configured CRM software can help you track individual calls and callers to avoid this mistake.
What is a high call abandonment rate?
Having attained an accurate metric for your average abandoned call rate, you may find yourself wondering if your call center’s rate is acceptable and how it compares to other call centers. Especially if it’s one of the top metrics your contact center is tracking, it’s wise to ask this question: how does your call center’s abandoned call percentage stack up against the competition?
The global average is 5-8%. However, top-tier organizations generally like to keep their rates at or below 5%, with 2% considered to be an excellent abandonment rate. Generally speaking, fewer abandoned calls in the call center leads to more satisfied customers!
How to Reduce Abandonment Rate in the Call Center
There are many reasons for abandoned calls. These reasons may include:
- Long hold times, because customers don’t have all day, after all!
- Low customer patience, which can be exacerbated when customers have nothing to do while they’re waiting
- Inadequate agent scheduling, leading to too few agents for the incoming call volume
- Failure to have an AHT (average handle time) reduction plan, as spending unnecessary time on one interaction can prohibit agents from moving to the next
If you’re ready to take action to reduce call abandonment in the call center that you manage, here are five concrete action steps to achieve this goal.
1. Communicate With Your Customer
Most call center systems are programmed to notify the caller that agents are busy, and then to remind them every 60 seconds that their “call is important to us” and they must continue to hold. The problem? The repetitive and vague nature of this looped message can annoy customers and make their wait seem endless. And, let’s face it: the longer we wait, the more we wonder if our call really is important after all.
As an alternative, companies should give their customers an estimate of what their hold time will be.
This can be expressed as an estimated wait time or by simply telling the customer what number they are in the queue (“You are the number __ call holding. Calls will be answered in the order in which they are received.”) In customer service relationships, communication is key — and when customers know what to expect, that’s a great first step in decreasing your call abandonment rate.
2. Offer Options
Some customers simply do not have the time or the patience to wait very long. There are countless reasons a customer can’t wait on hold, from calling between meetings to receiving another call. Luckily, you can offer them options, like patching them through to voicemail or offering the option to receive a callback or text when an agent becomes available. You can also direct them to digital pathways for customer service, like a form on your organization’s website or live chat feature.
Customers enjoy the freedom of choice and the ability to manage their time, and agents can better juggle high call volumes and your call center abandoned rate will improve since customers who opt for these alternatives will not be logged as hangups. It’s a win-win for customer service and lower abandoned calls alike.
3. Schedule According to Call Volume
Using your CRM software, you should be able to track call volume patterns at the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual level. Armed with this data, your organization can ensure someone is available to take customer calls promptly.
By anticipating peak hours, you can staff your call center accordingly and make sure you have enough agents to handle customer calls. Take call volume into consideration when scheduling breaks and lunches to ensure that queues don’t stack up out of control and spike abandon rates.
4. Integrate an AHT Reduction Action Plan
One way to shorten customers’ hold times (and thus reduce abandonment rate in the call center) is to focus on another metric alongside it: Average handle time (AHT). Think of it this way — your agents’ time is limited, and spending unnecessary time on one interaction means agents can’t get to other customers who are waiting on hold.
How can you reduce AHT in a contact center? To make the most of the staff you have working, consider reducing the average amount of time agents spend on each call (while still investing the time it takes for a great customer experience, of course!). Less time spent with a customer means the agent is empowered to move more quickly through the queue to the next waiting customer. Another average time handle tip is to include excellent customer service quality into your AHT improvement plan.
5. Increase Your Ring Time
This tip may be a little outside of the box, but hear us out. If a call to your contact center begins with a click and a swift entry onto the automated message carousel, that sets the stage for irritated customers and can be a key reason for abandoned calls. So, why not begin with a few rings instead?
Customers are accustomed to waiting through several rings before a recipient picks up the phone, just like when calling a friend. In fact, 18 seconds is the average mobile-to-mobile ring time.
Customers will have entered the queue upon the first ring, but those few rings can reduce their perception of the time they’ve been on hold by the amount of time they listened to the rings. It may seem like a small change, but considering that most calls are abandoned early on, it’s worth getting customers through that initial minute or so with as little annoyance as possible.
Keeping your abandon rate as low as possible means more customers will receive the service they called for — be it sales, service, or technical support. It also means maintaining a reputation as a company that is staffed and organized to provide a convenient and fulfilling customer experience. Working on how to reduce abandoned calls in the call center is time well spent! By implementing these tactics, your contact center will be well on its way to experiencing lower abandonment rates and higher customer satisfaction.