William Balvanz is the Training Specialist at Voyant, a US-based UCaaS provider. He has years of experience in the call center space, as well as cloud-based communications. William has agreed to put together an article addressing one particularly tricky metric in a call center.
Abandon rate, otherwise known simply as Abandonment, represents missed opportunities for your contact center. There are usually a couple of distinct reasons that callers will abandon the call, and we will explore them individually. A call is counted as abandoned if the caller disconnects the call at a point after the queue has taken the call, but before an agent has accepted it.
Abandonment is calculated as the number of calls abandoned divided by the total number of calls taken by the queue in a given time frame. If the call abandons within the first few seconds after any entrance message, it is likely that the call was routed to the call center in error. Most reporting engines allow you to set a threshold for what you consider a short call to eliminate these from the count..
How Many is Too Many
At what point should you become concerned with Abandonment? The answer to that depends on the type of incoming call. For sales departments, you might be more concerned with missed opportunities. If you are missing as many opportunities as you have salespeople, that’s probably a big issue. For customer service, this might not be as big an issue, especially if you use your queue’s hold music to proactively offer solutions. Depending on how sophisticated your reporting engine, you may be able to see if those abandoned numbers ever called back or if they were truly lost.
When calls abandon early, especially if they abandoned during the entrance message, this is a strong indicator that they were routed to the incorrect location. If this is a frequent issue, if it happens daily or even more often, you may need to look at your auto attendant or other factors that could lead to calls going to the wrong place. While not immediately as serious as calls terminated for lack of agents, these abandoned call still represent some frustration on the part of the caller.
1. How Long To Get To the Queue
The first place to look is at the call flow leading up to entry into the queue. If the caller has to navigate an auto attendant with a half dozen options, then another menu, then reaches the call queue - this can add 30 seconds or more to the caller’s frustration even before they are told to hold. Keep this in mind, and for important call queues, you may consider obtaining a direct number to that queue.
2. First Impressions
The first message the caller will hear can spell the difference between a patient on-hold experience and a stressful one. Entrance messages are played before the caller is taken into the queue, and if they are mandatory they should relay the important information, such as the types of issues the agents can handle, the hours of operation, and if the calls will be recorded. This message can be made brief, or relegated to optional if there are no calls in queue and nothing of special note needs to be said.
3. Messaging on Hold
Opportunistic managers and planners know that the music on hold can be used to present the type of environment that will keep your callers on the line for as long as possible. Utilize your hold messages tactfully, alternating between marketing messages and calming instrumental music (a grinding, six-minute guitar solo from your favorite heavy metal album might not be appropriate, or royalty-free) to lighten the burden and keep the wait as pleasant as possible.
4. Comfort and Queue Position Messages
On one hand, reminding the caller that they are holding and not being taken care of seems depressing, but the right frequency and delivery of comfort messages can permit longer hold times. If long hold times are common, announce queue position, while if they are usually short, announce wait time. Mix in apologies about their wait and thank them for their patience, making sure to remind the caller how much their business is appreciated.
5. Bounced Calls
Calls bounce when they are presented to an agent who does not answer. Depending on your queue set up, bounce calls may ring first before they go back on hold. The sound of ringing prompts the holding person to think they will very shortly talk to a person, if this expectation is not fulfilled the caller can get more frustrated than they were before. If your cue routinely has long hold times consider removing the “play ring while call is being presented” option, if possible.
6. Is the Queue Properly Staffed?
Ultimately, abandonment comes down to staffing. If you consistently have very long hold times, your entry into the queue is fast, your messaging is spot on, and you don't have a lot of bounced calls, the last resort is putting more agents in queue. This has a direct effect on profitability, of course, that has to be balanced out between the number of customers that you lose and the potential for hiring and training more staff.
Abandon rate is a direct reflection of frustrated callers, who have decided that hanging up is worth more than reaching your company. This might not be specifically bad if the caller has reached the wrong queue, but typically abandonment signals an issue with your queue flow or agent staffing.