hang up

What does call abandonment mean?

by • August 4, 2015 • The Science BitComments (0)2193

The definition of Call Abandon Rate is simple; it’s the percentage of calls which come into the contact centre but are abandoned by the caller before reaching an agent.  If X is the number of calls handled by agents, and Y is the number of calls coming in, then your call abandonment rate is (1-(X/Y))*100.

But why does it matter? And how can you avoid abandoned calls? The basic reason for measuring call abandon rate is to monitor calls abandoned while queuing for an agent – and for these calls it’s a fair bet that the length of the queue is the main facto. But there are many ways to deflect queuing calls nowadays, so we need to ask some additional questions:

  • How long did callers wait?
  • Were they given an estimated wait time?
  • Were they offered a callback?
  • Were they pushed to other channels?

If calls were abandoned after a short time in queue, and any of the other points applied, perhaps the caller decided to try another channel, or to call back at a less busy time – all positive results for the overall contact centre strategy, and quite possibly positive for the caller too.

Calls abandoned in IVR

If the IVR is only a routing engine, then if callers hang up this is probably due to frustration, and the IVR design should be reviewed. On the other hand, if the IVR is providing self service, the caller’s needs may have been met – another positive outcome. The simplest way to assess this area is to check repeat call rates: if these are high for callers who hung up in the IVR, then the IVR is probably the culprit again.

Take a couple of simple scenarios. In the first one, a caller wants to check their balance. Once they are identified and verified, the balance might be played by the IVR before transferring the caller to a queue. If the caller hangs up at this point, it’s a clear win-win.

In the second scenario, a company decides that the balance playback has been so successful in deflecting calls that the IVR now plays the caller’s entire last account statement before transferring them. In this case, a hang-up is much more likely to indicate frustration at this ten-minute torrent of unwanted information. Callers will quickly start to fail identification deliberately to avoid this treatment.

Calls abandoned after transferring to an agent

Calls abandoned AFTER transferring to an agent are usually not even counted in the Call Abandon Rate, but they can be very revealing. After all, from a caller’s point of view, an agent is just a more sophisticated and intelligent IVR. If the agent is unable to resolve the caller’s issue, or simply takes too long to do so, caller frustration may lead to hang-ups at this stage too. It is also not uncommon for callers to be put on hold, or transferred, and left in limbo for so long that they hang up. These cases may indicate issues with agent training, or with business processes, or even with the telephony technology and routing set-up.

In summary, while the typical reaction to a high call abandon rate is to put more agents on the phones, this does not always make sense. If queues are already short, perhaps another factor such as an announcement of seasonal opening times, or an in-queue push to a smartphone app is allowing callers to self-serve.

If your queues are long, there may be better options than increasing resources. Consider visual IVR as a way of offering self service in the queue. Even partial self-service such as automating security/DPA checks may reduce frustration levels significantly, shortening agent handling time and reducing stress for everyone involved.

If callers are hanging up in the IVR or with agents, perhaps you need to look deeper for the cause of this problem.


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