Abandonment Rate

Understanding and Managing Your Call Abandonment Rate

The Call Abandonment Rate/Abandoned Calls is a critical metric in call centres, directly impacting customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

This glossary definition aims to define the abandonment rate, explain the importance of measuring abandoned calls, and provide industry insights and strategies to manage and reduce them effectively.

As an expert industry resource, we will also explore the latest data and trends to help contact centre managers optimise their operations.

What Are Abandoned Calls?

Abandoned calls occur when a customer hangs up before reaching a live agent or completing an automated interaction.

These calls can be particularly frustrating for customers and can lead to negative perceptions of the company.

Abandoned calls are often measured as a percentage of total incoming calls and are a key performance indicator (KPI) in contact centre management.

Different Types of Call Abandonment Rates

There are actually a few different types of abandoned calls, so it’s important to understand the difference when referring to your call abandonment rate.

Abandoned Pre

One thing you can’t account for is customers making mistakes.

So if customers are accidentally ringing your call centre (by dialling the wrong number) when their call is answered, and the greeting is not what they expected, what do they do?

They hang up of course.

But it would be unfair for you to be penalised for this wouldn’t it?

The abandoned calls pre and post-threshold are used to help in this situation.

This metric is typically used to eliminate wrong numbers so it removes any calls that are abandoned prior to a customisable time threshold (typically between 5 and 20 seconds)

Abandoned Post

In your ACD there is a setting for you to set the default threshold that allows for the above scenario when customers hang up.

By default, it’s normally set to 10 seconds.

Abandoned calls post threshold are calls that disconnected after the 10 seconds have elapsed.

Abandoned in IVR

Abandoned in IVR are calls that disconnect before even going into a queue.

This may not be a bad thing, though, as the customer may have obtained the information they required from the IVR interaction.

This is especially true if you are using messaging to provide customers with information relative to the reason they called.

Not all Abandoned Calls are Bad!

For example, an energy call centre can expect a lot of calls from customers when there is a power outage in an area, either to report it or to understand when their power will be restored.

By using a recording message like “If you are calling to report a power outage in Cheltenham, we are aware of the issue, and our crews have advised power will be restored by 2 p.m.,” most callers will have received the information they needed and will disconnect at the end of the message.

Without needing to speak to an agent…

As I mentioned, in this instance, abandoned calls are not a bad thing!

Why is the Call Abandonment Rate Metric so Important?

The abandoned calls metric is critical for call centre managers.

In fact, in the 2024 Australian Contact Centre Best Practice Report, it was listed as THE most important KPI by contact centre managers.

The reason the abandoned calls metric is so important can be summarised by the following points:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: High rates of abandoned calls are often a sign of poor customer service, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction among customers.
  2. Operational Efficiency: Abandoned calls indicate inefficiencies within the call centre, such as inadequate staffing, long wait times, or technical issues.
  3. Revenue Impact: Missed calls can lead to lost sales opportunities and decreased revenue, especially in sales-focused call centres.
  4. Reputation: Consistently high abandoned call rates can harm the company’s reputation, leading to a loss of customer trust and loyalty.

Industry Data on Abandoned Calls

Understanding industry benchmarks and data can help call centre managers gauge their performance and set realistic improvement targets.

A long-term target for the abandonment rate in a call centre has been less than 5%, however, the acceptable rate can vary depending on the industry and the type of service provided.

For instance, revenue-generating call centres may have a lower tolerance for abandoned calls than customer service/customer support teams.

According to the 2024 Australian Contact Centre Best Practice Report (which surveyed over 300 contact centres in Australia), the average call abandonment rate was 8% in 2024 (slightly down from 9% in 2023).

Strategies to Reduce Abandoned Calls

Call Centre Managers have a never-ending list of priorities however reducing abandoned calls is often high on the priority list.

  1. Optimise Staffing Levels: Ensuring that the call centre is adequately staffed during peak times can significantly reduce wait times and abandoned calls. Workforce management tools can help predict call volumes and schedule staff accordingly (Learn more about an Erlang Calculator).
  2. Improve IVR Systems: An efficient Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system can help route calls more effectively, reducing the likelihood of customers abandoning calls out of frustration.
  3. Monitor and Analyse Call Data: Regularly reviewing call data to identify patterns and bottlenecks can help in making informed decisions to improve call handling processes.
  4. Offer Call-back Options: Allowing customers to request a call-back rather than waiting on hold can improve customer experience and reduce abandoned calls. But be careful, as all you are doing is shifting the demand to a different time – it doesn’t fix an underlying lack of resources.
  5. Offer a Choice of Hold Music: By enabling customers to select their hold music, or using music targeted to your customer demographics, you can increase the customer’s willingness to hold on (learn more about the science of hold music).
  6. Enhance Training Programmes: Regular training for call centre agents on handling high call volumes and providing efficient service can also contribute to reducing abandoned calls.

The Role of Technology

Technology continues to play an increasingly large role in contact centres and can provide some solutions in helping you to reduce your call abandonment rate. 

  1. AI and Automation: Implementing AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can handle routine inquiries, freeing up live agents to handle more complex issues and reducing the overall call load.
  2. Real-Time Analytics: Utilising real-time analytics to monitor call centre performance can help managers quickly identify and address issues leading to abandoned calls.
  3. Omni-channel Support: Providing multiple channels for customer support, such as live chat, email, and social media, can reduce the pressure on phone lines and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

Abandoned calls are a significant challenge for call centres, affecting customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue.

By understanding the causes of your abandonment rate and implementing strategic measures, contact centre managers can effectively reduce abandoned calls and enhance the customer experience.

Regularly monitoring industry benchmarks and leveraging the latest technology can further aid in maintaining optimal call centre performance.

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