KPIs & Metrics

Call Center KPIs: What Your Abandonment Rate Means and 3 Steps to Improve It

Are abandonments hurting your call center KPIs? Here’s how to turn things around.

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One of a call center manager’s most challenging tasks is figuring out ways to answer more calls, and the most logical place to start is with the calls that come in but don’t get answered. Closely monitoring your abandonment rate can help you spot opportunities to expand coverage and implement strategies to ensure that all callers get the attention they seek.

Abandonment rate is the percentage of customer service calls that are disconnected before customers speak to an agent. Of course, not all disconnected calls are losses—some are misdials, and others are calls that legitimately end in the interactive voice response (IVR) menu but don’t disconnect immediately. Typically, measurements will exclude calls of 5 seconds or fewer in an effort to isolate the truly lost calls.

Learning your abandonment rate will give you a good sense of where you stand. An abandonment rate of 5%–8% is generally considered acceptable, but even if your abandons are within that range, there’s no harm in trying to improve. Here are three ways to reduce your abandonment rate and answer more calls.

Schedule according to call volume: This may seem like a no-brainer, but the best way to ensure your team can answer as many calls as possible is to make sure you’re properly staffed. Once you have data on your abandonment rates, look for patterns in peak times, which may happen around meal breaks or other critical points in the day or on a particular day of the week. Scheduling your call center staff accordingly can help you capture more calls.

Offer options to callers: If wait times spike unpredictably, consider adding options to your phone system that enable callers to take a different course if they don’t have time to wait for an agent. When wait times are high, offer options to transfer to voice mail or receive a callback or text message once an agent becomes available. You can also use recorded messages to educate customers about other support options, such as online chat or 24/7 e-mail support.

Reduce handling time: Your abandonment rate includes calls that weren’t answered because all your agents were busy talking with other customers. One simple strategy for alleviating this pain point is to coach agents on reducing the time they spend with each caller, especially during periods of high call volume. Without risking overall customer service quality, your agents can learn to reduce call times by having more efficient conversations with callers and using strategies for callbacks when volume spikes. In both cases, training and role-playing can help agents put these concepts into practice.

Answer the call: Managing your abandonment rate means managing your customer experience. When you maintain control of your abandonment rate and have strategies in place you can use when circumstances demand, your customer service team will be better positioned to deliver the level of service your customers expect.