Call Center Metrics: Abandon Rate

Find out what a call center’s abandon rate is, how to calculate it and more.

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With contact center professionals handling more interactions than ever, long hold times and diminishing service levels are commonplace. This is why one of the most closely monitored of contact center KPIs is abandon rate – the percentage of inbound phone calls that are abandoned by the customer before speaking to an agent. Directly connected with waiting times, a high abandon rate represents missed opportunities, customer dissatisfaction and ultimately lost revenue.


How to Calculate Abandon Rate

To calculate your contact center’s abandon rate, it’s necessary to divide the number of abandoned calls by the total number of inbound calls. For example, if your contact center receives 1,000 calls and 50 are abandoned, your abandon rate is 5 percent.

While it is relatively simple to calculate your abandon rate based on this formula, most service organizations also exclude calls that abandon in the first five seconds. This is because these calls are typically made by individuals who have either dialed a wrong number or by those who have dialed the wrong number but think they may have dialed a digit incorrectly and then hang up and redial the same number. To weed out these calls, you can configure the threshold for short abandoned calls within your ACD system.

Taking into consideration these short abandon calls, the abandon rate formula becomes:

Abandon rate percentage = (Number of calls offered – Number of calls abandoned in 5 seconds – Number of calls handled) / (Number of calls offered – Number of calls abandoned in 5 seconds) x 100


What Is the Average for Call Abandon Rate?

Every industry has its own standards when it comes to abandon rate. However, most experts will say that a rate of 2 percent or less is ideal. Any rate that is over 5 percent is considered to be poor and in need of improvement.

Know Your Numbers
If you haven’t been consistently reviewing call detail reports with abandon rates, you should be. Data in these reports can help you understand peak periods when customers are more likely to contact your organization, how long they’re waiting and how long it takes to resolve these interactions. You’ll also understand how long callers will wait before they hang up.

Calls Abandoned in the IVR
Although it’s important to carefully evaluate calls that are being abandoned in the agent queue, it’s also necessary to look at those that are being lost in the IVR system. Many organizations make the mistake of not carefully looking at callers that drop off before making it into the queue. This can result in missing significant and oftentimes easily corrected problems that could be hindering customer journeys.

Transferred Calls
Another potential mistake is double counting transferred calls. If a call has been transferred to a different queue, it shouldn’t be counted again once it’s answered. By doing so, the abandon rate becomes lower than what it should actually be.

Another way that the abandon rate can be skewed is having a real person answer a call and then transfer it into a queue. Yes, the call was technically answered by a human and won’t show up in ACD statistics, but it doesn’t provide any insights into callers who drop off once they are transferred into the queue.


Lowering Your Abandon Rate

High abandon rates speak directly to customer dissatisfaction. And in today’s digital era, callers that aren’t getting their needs met are now engaging on more visible channels like social media and are quicker to shift to the competition. In other words, keeping your abandon rate low should be an essential business focus.

Many problems that can drive up your abandon rate are fixable by staffing based on volume. More available agents during peak times can reduce hold time and lower abandon rates. Thus, it’s important to weigh the cost of extra staffing versus the cost of keeping existing customers happy.

Sources of call abandonment may also be found within your IVR. A prompt that isn’t accurate or a line that isn’t working can result in caller drop-offs. This is why it’s necessary to regularly test every aspect of your IVR from the caller’s perspective.

Offer a Callback
Among the most effective ways to lower your abandon rate is to add Callback which lets callers choose between waiting on the line and receiving a callback when it’s convenient for them. This saves their place in the queue, and when an agent is available, they receive a callback.

Callback calculates the expected wait time and gives customers an estimated time when they should expect a callback. They also have the option of scheduling a callback at a more convenient time.

Improve On-Hold Messages
Callers frequently abandon calls after hearing a repeating, generic on-hold message while they sit in the queue. By identifying when callers are most likely to drop off, you can change messaging to sustain their interest and encourage them to stay on hold. Savvy marketers have even learned how to use leverage this time on hold to upsell and cross-sell products and services.

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