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10 Easy Solutions to Reduce the Call Abandonment Rate

| 7 min read

What is the Call Abandonment Rate?

Typically, we define the call abandonment rate, or call abandon rate, as the percentage of customers that hang up before being connected to an agent. It can also include calls that were abandoned while connected with an agent. This blog will take a more holistic approach to defining call abandonment rate and include calls abandoned before and during being connected to an agent.

For example, a customer might get put on hold due to high call volume and then get impatient and hang up before talking to an agent. Or a customer might become frustrated while talking to an agent because the agent is unknowledgeable about the call reason. Therefore, the call abandonment rate is a metric call centers use to measure the frequency of abandoned calls.

The call center industry standard for call abandonment rate is 5%. Call center abandon rates of less than 5% are considered good. Sometimes, it is acceptable if the rate is between 5% and 10%.

It's important not to confuse abandoned calls for other types of calls, such as:

Dropped Calls: These calls have been disconnected due to technical reasons outside both callers' control.

Missed Calls: These calls are not connected or placed on hold. They can happen when the call center queue is full or the wait time is too high.

Short Calls: These calls occur when the call is abandoned moments after it is connected to an agent.

How to Measure Call Abandonment Rate?

Measuring the call abandonment rate is a great way to track your performance objectively. Collecting and understanding this data can shed light on opportunities to improve related issues to workforce management, resource allocation (e.g., agents, helpdesk. escalated agents), FCR, and Csat.

  • Received Calls

    Determine the number of calls the call center receives over some predetermined time. Most call centers will measure the call abandonment rate weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

  • Short Calls

    Determine the number of calls abandoned within a few seconds of being connected to an agent. As mentioned above, these calls are not considered "abandoned" calls. The number of seconds can be 10, 5, or even less.

  • Handled Calls

    Next, determine the number of calls that an agent handled. This would include any call connected to an agent that lasted more than a few seconds.

We can now calculate the call center abandon rate with these three numeric values determined.

  1. Subtract the Short Calls from the Received Calls.
  2. From the above result, subtract the Handled Calls.
  3. Divide the above result with the result from 1.
  4. Multiply this number by 100 to achieve a percentage.

For example, if your call center received 1000 calls over the past month and 50 of them were abandoned within 5 (or 10) seconds, and 900 calls were handled, the calculation for the abandon rate is:

Received calls = 1000

Short calls = 50

Handled calls = 900

(1000-50-900) ÷ (1000-50) x 100 = 5.2%

10 Easy Ways to Reduce the Call Abandonment Rate

There are many ways to decrease the call abandonment rate; however, many methods can be expensive or time-consuming. This blog will discuss some simple ways to make a difference in your call center without making any significant financial or time investments.

Shorten Hold Times

Many customers become frustrated and abandon the call when waiting too long. Hold time in a call center directly impacts Csat and overall efficiency. Customers feel valued and respected when they experience shorter hold times, leading to a more positive perception of the company.

The call center industry standard for service level is 80/20, meaning that agents should answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds. However, this standard is mostly unattainable as our research shows that only 16% of call centers are actually able to achieve the 80/20 industry standard consistently.

SQM Group's research recently performed a study that provided very insightful results. It demonstrated that by attempting to achieve the 80/20 industry standard, many call centers are setting their standards much higher than needed. Our research shows that a customer's average time to abandon their call is 2 minutes and 36 seconds. Moreover, calls answered by an agent within 2 minutes after going through the IVR menu have no negative impact on overall Csat.

Therefore, it can be strongly argued that call centers should strive to have acceptable average wait times of under 2 minutes. There is no difference in Csat whether the call is answered within 1 second or 120 seconds.

Offer a Call-Back Option

Implementing a callback option that allows customers to request to be called back at a selected time provides added convenience and flexibility, allowing customers to avoid waiting on hold for extended periods. From the call center's perspective, the callback option helps manage call volume efficiently, especially during peak hours. By staggering the call flow, the call center can optimize agent availability.

Provide Estimated Wait Times

Provide customers with estimated wait times or queue positions through announcements to manage their expectations and reduce frustration. Rather than playing the classic "Thank you for your patience. Your call is important to us" message, you can provide consistent wait time updates to the customer. This gives them a better idea of how long they have to wait, reducing the likelihood of them abandoning the call.

Authenticate Customers As They Wait

One way to improve call center efficiency is to automate parts of the process, such as customer authentication. Authenticating customers as they wait makes them feel like their wait time is useful, and it streamlines the call process by gathering necessary information before the agent takes the call.

Authenticating customers as they wait allows agents to be better prepared to address the customer's specific needs, leading to faster and more efficient issue resolution. Customer authentication can also help prioritize high-value or urgent customers, ensuring they receive prompt assistance.

Streamlining the call process is an excellent option for a call center that does not have the resources necessary to expand the team. When increasing the number of available agents is not an option, increasing the availability of the agents is the next best solution.

Improve Self-Service Options

Sometimes, customers' calls can simply be handled by automation and self-service; other times, the call necessitates personal help from an agent. If your call center has many inbound calls of the same nature, it is worth investing in developing a user-friendly and intuitive interactive voice response (IVR) system. This system should be able to guide customers through various service options clearly and efficiently.

For this approach to be successful, it's essential to ensure that the IVR menu is regularly updated with relevant and helpful information to avoid customer frustration. Regularly gathering customer feedback and analyzing user behavior data can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement.

Another way to give customers more self-service options is by offering a comprehensive online self-help knowledge base with frequently asked questions (FAQs) and step-by-step guides. This self-help guide empowers customers to find answers independently.

Assess Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It's important to regularly monitor and analyze KPIs to determine their impact on call abandonment rate and opportunities for improvement. Essential KPIs to assess include service level, occupancy rate, call duration, schedule adherence, after-call work time, and accuracy in forecasting.

Request a mySQM™ Customer Service QA Demo Video

Learn about SQM's agent… Csat prediction model, which is based on standardized metrics, AI, and regression analysis to predict customer satisfaction derived from a QA evaluation. Our Csat prediction model provides a high statistical correlation, translating to a 95% success rate in predicting agent Csat in most cases.

Incentivize Agents

Recognize and reward agents who consistently provide excellent customer service and maintain low call abandonment rates. This can motivate them to perform even better.

Monitor Call Volume

Monitoring call volume in a call center allows managers to manage and allocate resources effectively and proactively. By tracking call volume patterns and identifying peak hours or periods of high call traffic, the call center can adjust staffing levels accordingly to ensure sufficient agent availability.

When call center agents are adequately staffed during busy times, wait times are minimized, and callers are less likely to abandon their calls out of frustration. Additionally, monitoring call volume helps predict and prepare for spikes in call traffic, such as during promotions or product launches, preventing potential call center bottlenecks and improving overall customer experience.

Identify Where Calls Are Being Abandoned

To better understand how to reduce the call abandonment rate, you must know when it is happening. Is it happening while the customer is on hold? While they are listening to the IVR menu options? While they are connected to an agent? Knowing at what point in the caller's journey the call is being abandoned is crucial to understanding the underlying problems.

For example, if most customers abandon their calls while on hold, the average wait time likely needs to be decreased. If customers are hanging up while listening to the IVR menu, it is probable that the menu options are too complicated or lengthy and need to be revised.

If the calls are being abandoned while connected to an agent, you should investigate deeper where the issue lies. Are the call center agents knowledgeable about the call subjects? Are they friendly? Agent self-coaching is an excellent tool for improving their Csat scores and achieving World-Class QA.

Gain Firsthand Experience of the Caller's Journey

Experiencing the caller journey for yourself is an easy and insightful way to see how it feels to be a customer. You can discover what you need to improve during each step of the call process by personally going through the pain points.