Call abandonment negatively affects customer satisfaction because a customer did not receive the support or information they needed during the time they were able to commit to the interaction. Customers today expect a higher standard in service than before, and businesses are not living up to that standard.
According to a recent report, half of customers feel companies need to improve customer service and support. However, new technology and call center trends make it possible for contact centers to lower their call center abandon rate to increase customer satisfaction.
Here is a look at what call center abandon rate is and how businesses can manage it.
What is Call Abandonment in a Call Center?
Call abandonment is when a caller hangs up before they reach an agent. A call abandonment rate is the percentage of total calls that never reach an agent.
Over two-thirds of customers want a response to a service inquiry within ten minutes. Meanwhile, 33% say that waiting on hold is the most frustrating part of getting customer service help. Because callers today expect a faster response, the abandonment rate of callers is on the rise going into 2022 unless companies adapt to new call center tactics.
Common Reasons Callers Abandon a Call
Here are five common reasons customers might abandon a call to an inbound call center.
They Grow Bored
If customers wait for a long time, they will quickly grow bored and feel tempted to hang up rather than sit and wait. Likewise, repetitive music, annoying automated messages, or complete silence decrease customers’ patience in waiting for their turn.
They Don’t Understand the Delay
Imagine calling for support on an issue, and suddenly the phone goes quiet without an explanation. The callers are left wondering how long they will wait, whether their call went through, or even if they reached the correct department.
If callers are left hanging without knowing why, they are more likely to abandon the call.
They Run Out of Time
At times, customers need a quick resolution. This could be due to having an immediate issue that they need help with or because they only have a short time before they have another engagement. If they are on the phone for too long without knowing how much longer they still have left, they are more likely to hang up and find another solution rather than risk wasting even more time.
They are Hesitant to Call
Some customers were hesitant to reach out to customer service in the first place. There is a growing number of consumers who aren’t comfortable talking on a phone, so making an effort to call customer support was not an easy undertaking. However, if they are only met with hold music, they might lose what little motivation they had to call and leave.
They Experienced Multiple Negative Calls
If a customer abandons a call, there is still a chance they will call back. Unfortunately, they aren’t always sent directly to an agent when they do. Instead, they are sometimes faced with another long hold. If they had a past negative experience, they are more likely to hang up a second time.
Why Is It Important to Monitor Your Call Abandonment Rate?
Your call center is one line of customer service that has a chance of improving the opinion of center customers towards the company. On the other hand, poor customer service from call center agents might dissuade a customer from purchasing from the brand, or it could lead to negative online feedback.
Because of the significant impact of a customer’s experience, 73% of businesses use customer satisfaction as their top metric for measuring the success of their service team.
A call center can increase its customer satisfaction rate by shortening call hold times and focusing on first call resolution. Unfortunately, callers that abandon the call will not leave with a positive impression no matter how excellent the service level would have been if an agent answered. That’s why companies that reduce the rate of abandonment also improve their customer satisfaction rate.
How is a Call Abandon Rate Calculated?
The average call abandonment rate is the percentage of total inbound calls that agents don’t answer before the caller hangs up. That percentage is one of the essential key performance indicators of how well a call center succeeds.
The call center abandon rate formula is the total center calls abandoned divided by the total number of inbound calls multiplied by 100.
To calculate a business’s abandoned calls, take the total number of inbound phone calls and subtract the calls answered by an agent.
What is a Good Abandon Rate for a Call Center?
The average abandonment rate is between 8% to 10% of total calls, which means for every 100 inbound calls to a contact center, eight of them will hang up before they even speak to a person. However, an acceptable call center abandonment rate benchmark will change depending on the industry.
Here are five examples of call center abandon rate industry standards.
- Financial Services: 16%
- Software and Internet: 15%
- Healthcare, Pharma, and Biotech: 13%
- Retail: 12%
- Business Services: 10%
10 Tips to Manage an Abandonment Rate in a Call Center
Here are ten strategies for managing your abandon rate and reducing your average abandon rate per hour.
1. Understand the Call Process
Every agent in a call center should have expert knowledge of the call process to improve their customer service. One of the best ways for agents to understand the call center is to experience the process for themselves. Then, after their experience, they can identify areas of improvement and create better strategies for helping customers.
With the high rate of experienced agent attrition in call centers today, many centers don’t have adequately trained staff, leading to longer wait times and more abandoned calls in the call center. To combat this inexperience, a contact center should hold regular training that teaches center agents how to operate the systems, use strategies efficiently, and stay on track with answering calls to avoid unnecessarily long holds for center customers.
Another way to understand the call center process is by asking customers to leave feedback after their experience so the support team knows what they did well and where they should improve.
2. Identify When People Abandon the Call
Not every person abandons the call at the same point in their wait. However, analyzing how long a person waits on the call can tell a call center manager what might cause call abandonment. Here are a few examples of how call analytics help managers lower their call abandon rate.
- The caller leaves as soon as the hold starts could indicate a lack of time or patience
- The caller leaves midway through the wait might show they are bored
- The caller leaves after an announcement or message might suggest the message wasn’t appealing or was a nuisance.
Analytics will also tell a call center what they are doing well. For example, if a company changes the messaging during holds and the call abandon rate goes down, managers know that the new messages successfully hold the listener’s attention.
3. Reduce the Need to Call
If a call center has a hard time keeping up with customer calls, there is a chance the cause is not within the center. Sometimes there is a root cause that results in increased phone traffic. Before making drastic changes in staffing, schedules, or strategies, look at commonalities between customer requests.
Customers might be calling because of repeated issues with a product, glitches on the website, or inadequate online information. The company can increase customer satisfaction by addressing those root problems so the customers won’t need to call. As a result, the center will have fewer callers at one time, decreasing the call abandonment rate.
4. Adequately Staff the Call Center
When the current staff cannot handle all the calls and the center addresses all other issues, it might be time to look at how many agents are on duty during peak call times. Reducing the abandonment rate could be as simple as adding more staff, so callers don’t have to wait as long. One key call center benchmark is for agents to answer calls within 20 seconds which reduces customer abandonment significantly. If the agents can’t meet that benchmark, the center might need additional staff.
However, not all centers have the resources or desire to take on more employees. With strategic scheduling and moving of the current staff, centers can still cover the times where the abandonment rate is high. Often contact centers will have omnichannel agents that can move around or perform different customer support services simultaneously to help during peak times of the day.
5. Keep the Center Agents Informed
Agents at their service desks might feel isolated and only aware of the call they are currently focusing on. The agents might not even know how many other callers are waiting at any given time.
A contact center can motivate their agents by updating them on how many calls are waiting by either publicly displaying the number or regularly announcing the wait count. This reminder will encourage the staff to keep up with their current calls before the queue grows much longer.
6. Use an Omnichannel Approach for Communication
The call center shouldn’t be the only way for customers to contact a business for support or questions. They will quickly become overwhelmed and lose callers to abandonment if they are.
Here are a few other ways businesses can use to connect with customers.
- Email support
- Chat with a live agent
- Frequently Asked Question pages
- Messages or comments through social media
- Interactive Voice Response
Interactive voice response (IVR) is one channel that is quickly growing in popularity because it streamlines the customer service process by offering an automated customer service experience. Through IVR, customers can receive answers by asking questions or navigating using their keypad. In response, an automated voice pulls up information or offers solutions to customer problems.
IVR is just one of many technologies that can improve the customer service experience. AI is such a powerful tool to leverage for customer support that experts predicted 70% of customer interactions in 2022 would involve technology like AI.
7. Streamline the Call Process
The average customer handle time is six minutes and ten seconds. However, that average will vary widely between industries and depending on the complexity of the call. Therefore, each business should calculate what a healthy average time should be for their center so they can handle all of the calls in a timely manner and decrease their abandonment rate. If agents regularly go over the average, call center managers need to find ways to boost the call center workflow efficiency.
One way to streamline the call time is by having customers complete screenings and authentications before the agent arrives on the line so the agent won’t need to perform that task. The customer can also use their keypad to indicate the nature of their call, which can also help the computer route the caller to the correct department.
AI can help shorten automated and live calls by filling in information and collecting data, so agents have less after-call work to perform between inbound calls.
8. Create a More Enjoyable Wait Time
Sometimes the wait time is unavoidable. That’s why the center should count the wait itself as part of their customer experience. Therefore, call center managers will often invest time, money, and resources in creating a relaxing and easy wait.
Here are a few strategies centers have found to help the hold time feel shorter and extend a customer’s patience, so they are less likely to abandon the call.
- Play relaxing music that is not annoying
- Inform customers of the estimated wait time
- Increase the ring time, so the customer spends less time waiting on hold
- Provide interesting announcements or ads
- Ask customers to complete a task like gathering paperwork
9. Offer Alternative Queuing Methods
Call centers are starting to adopt virtual queuing to reduce caller abandonment. In a virtual queue, callers input their phone number or other information to hold their place in the customer service line. Then, they can hang up and continue their day without feeling stuck to their phone. When their number comes up in the queue, a representative will call them back.
Call centers can customize virtual queues to meet the needs of the contact center. For example, if agents are handling too many calls at once, they can wait until peak time has passed before taking the calls waiting in the virtual queue. An automated system can also prioritize specific numbers, such as loyal customers or those who abandoned a previous call so they don’t have as long of a wait.
10. Return Abandoned Calls During Non-Peak Times
Even if a center performs all the above strategies to reduce its abandonment rate, some customers will still hang up during their wait. When this occurs, center agents have several options for handling the abandoned call.
If the caller is a high-value customer or lead, an agent will want to respond immediately to the customer and apologize for the long wait. They risk permanent brand reputation damage if they don’t.
Sometimes callers are not priority customers. In those instances, the center agents might consider waiting to return a call to the abandoned customers. The wait gives them a chance to focus on the callers still on hold to decrease the chances of additional abandoned calls. Once the call queue is empty, agents can turn their entire focus on contacting the abandoned calls.
Reduce Your Call Abandon Rate with AI
AI technology can help you achieve a low call abandonment rate and a high customer satisfaction rate in your call center. At Pipes.ai, we turn web leads into live calls that drive actual sales. With this data, your agents will know which calls are high-value customers and ensure those leads never have to abandon another call.
Book a demo to talk with a call center marketing expert about how AI can transform the way you support your customers.