Does Your Contact Center Have a High Call Abandonment Rate?

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Brian Spraetz's picture

Even with more and more enterprises boosting their social media presence to help with customer service and the growing popularity of self-service channels, research shows that the number of calls made to call centers is growing at a rate of nearly 20% every year. Experts say this impressive growth is partially due to the growing number of tasks covered by an enterprise’s call center as well as more customers calling on the go from their mobile devices. But just as call volume has gone up, so has call abandonment among customers. Call abandonment grew from 5% in 2003 to just over 13% in 2010. While a jump in call abandonment might mean fewer callers for your agents to handle it is also indication that there is something wrong “under the hood” with contact centers. What about your call center is forcing your customers to abandon their calls?

Typically, customer call abandonment rises when customers have to navigate through multiple options and pre-recorded messages. While these IVR systems are supposed to help a caller reach the right customer service agent sometimes they take so long and involve so many steps that the customer is too annoyed to continue and gives up out of frustration. Other times the menu doesn’t actually offer the right options and they are forced to fight with your system to get a hold of a human agent, also resulting in frustration and call abandonment.

Call abandonment is also influenced by wait times. What is the average wait time in your own contact center?  Obviously call volume or service issues can have a dramatic impact on average wait time but how long can a customer usually expect to be on hold for--120 seconds? 5 minutes? 14 minutes? (If you want to see live examples of how long a customer has been on hold with a contact center and how they feel about it check out The longer your customers are on hold the more stressed and frustrated they become and the more likely they are to ultimately abandon the call and try another service channel. This channel thrashing creates a very poor customer experience and could ultimately impact how your customers view and speak about your brand.   

Now it’s entirely possible that some of the calls contributing to your call abandonment rate as misdials, but those callers will usually hang up within 10 seconds or less after they realize their mistake. But calls lasting 5, 10 or even 15 minutes and resulting in being abandoned should stand out to contact center managers. Clearly something went awry with that call. Was it a system issue like those mentioned above or could it be the agents themselves? Are your agents tied so strongly to their scripts that the customer is forced to run in circles when the agent doesn’t have a pre-canned answer? Are your agents playing ping pong with your customers and passing callers back and forth between agents and departments because no one knows how to resolve the issue or who to ask for help?

All of these factors, both technical and agent-based, could be contributing to your call abandonment rate. Contact center managers have to get to the bottom of the issue and attempt to resolve them as quickly and as efficiently as possible so you are no longer leaving your customers out in the cold.

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