In this post:
- Why are calls blocked?
- What do blocked calls mean for your contact center?
- What does that do to customer experience?
- How is this calculated?
- How can you lower the percentage of calls blocked?
The “percentage of call blocked” is a metric that measures the proportion of inbound calls which do not reach an agent because they are deliberately disconnected by your phone systems.
This happens automatically when inbound call volume exceeds a maximum threshold that your business has defined.
Instead of being routed to a contact center agent, the customer will encounter a busy tone.
Ideally, they will also hear a recorded message explaining why they are not receiving service.
Why are calls blocked?
The main reason to block incoming calls is to prevent excessively long wait times.
Once a certain number of customers are queuing for service, it becomes impossible to serve them all within a realistic timeframe.
While it is obviously not ideal to deny customers service, it may be less damaging to their experience than making them wait!
What do blocked calls mean for your contact center?
A high percentage of calls blocked over an extended period often suggests one of two things:
- An over-reliance on phone service as a contact channel
- An underestimation of probable contact volume, and under-resourcing
When a high percentage of calls are blocked over a short period, it probably indicates a one-off event that has raised contact volume temporarily.
(The popular example is a marketing campaign that drives enquiries.)
What about customer experience?
Naturally, denying service to a customer – potentially after a long period on hold – does tremendous damage to their perception of your brand.
71% of consumers report that valuing their time is the most important thing a business can do.
It’s fair to say that hanging up on customers does not meet that criteria!
How is the percentage of calls blocked calculated?
This is a relatively simple metric to calculate.
First, many kinds of modern call center software can produce this figure automatically.
However, if you do ever need a “back of the envelope” calculation for this metric, it looks something like this:
Essentially, you need to count the calls which did not reach an agent and were neither resolved in a different way nor abandoned by the caller.
How do contact centers reduce the percentage of blocked calls?
There are a number of strategies for reducing the percentage of customers who are denied service.
Let’s look at three which cover the main approaches:
- Rerouting excess calls
- Providing alternative kinds of service
- Rescheduling excess calls
#1 Outsourced overflow teams
Many contact centers rely on an external team to handle excess calls.
As call volume reaches a defined limit – often the limit that would otherwise trigger call blocking – incoming call routing automatically moves callers to the outsourced call center.
High quality providers can offer services that meet (or exceed) the standard set by an in-house team.
However, there is an associated cost; this option is usually reserved with large businesses which can benefit from economies of scale.
#2 Improved self-service
The majority of conversations in any contact center concern routine issues.
These are the kinds of issues which customers should ideally be able to solve with self-service.
Almost 70% of customers want to resolve as many problems as possible on their own.
A large number of incoming calls suggests information and self-service tools are lacking.
Modern contact centers are easily able to plug this gap with:
Self-service is always a good investment because it prevents incoming calls rather than moving or rescheduling them.
#3 Virtual queuing
A major frustration for contact centers is that, while they are overrun at certain times of the day, there are very few calls at other times.
Virtual queuing is a potential solution to this.
The concept is simple: customers who are likely to experience a long wait are invited to hang up.
However, their call remains in the queue. You can choose to contact them immediately when they reach the front or schedule the outbound call for a time in the day when volume is generally low.
This is one of the most efficient ways to move traffic away from peaks and into troughs.
Even better, the rise of VoIP telephony has made placing outbound calls far more affordable than ever before.