What actually happens when your customer abandons a call?
Do they just… solve their own problem?
Somehow I doubt it.
Best case scenario? They call again later. Worst case scenario? Negative social media, terrible feedback and a lost customer.
Luckily, when it comes to reducing call abandonment, your contact center has options…
In this post:
- What abandon rate should you aim for?
- How to cheat at reducing your abandon rate…
- How to reduce your abandon rate (honestly)
- Where do I start?
What abandon rate should your contact center aim for?
Obviously you want your rate of abandoned calls as low as possible. In practice, 2% is good; contact centers usually aim to stay below 5%.
But – how do you get to that number?
The basic formula for call abandonment is:
It’s pretty simple as call center metrics go – but there are some variables to think about.
How to cheat at reducing your abandon rate…
You get to decide which calls count. If a caller abandons after 2 seconds, they probably didn’t mean to call in the first place. You shouldn’t count those calls.
So which calls should you count? What about calls that abandon after 10 seconds? Why not 20?
You get to set your own goalposts here, but 5 seconds is widely considered a fair target. Any less and you’re judging performance too harshly. Any more and you might be cheating.
Contact centers also fudge the numbers by counting only calls which abandon in the agent queue – not in IVR.
Bad idea! Customers have abandoned around a quarter of calls because they couldn’t get past an IVR – those are numbers you need to know about!
As a result, some research has shown that abandon rates are closer to 20%! That’s a far cry from 2-5% that contact centers are aiming for.
How to reduce your abandon rate (honestly)
It’s simple – just recruit twice as many agents.
Except… that’s not the answer you’re looking for, is it?
Luckily, there are three affordable and nearly foolproof ways to bring down call abandonment.
#1 Tell callers how long they’ll wait
Does this seem counterintuitive to you? Or does it seem like, if you tell callers how long they’ll wait, they’re more likely to hang up?
That’s a good question, and here are two more: is three minutes a long time? Can three minutes feel like a long time?
Now you get the idea. Your callers don’t know if they’re in for thirty seconds or thirty minutes.
But they can easily deal with a three-minute wait, if they know it’ll only be three minutes.
About one-third of customers say that this is the information they most want to hear on hold. (Another third want to know where they are in the queue, which is nearly the same info.)
But wait – what if it’s not a three-minute queue? What if it’s a thirty-minute queue? Won’t those callers all hang up!?
Yes, probably. But let’s face it – if there’s a thirty-minute wait, they *should* hang up! Better that than wait, say, twenty-five minutes and then hang up.
Getting stuck on hold is frustrating precisely because customers have no control. Telling them their expected wait time at least lets them make an informed choice.
#2 Create a virtual queue
Back in the day, virtual queuing was only for giant businesses with endless resources.
These days it’s open to virtually any contact center that values customer experience.
(Hopefully, that includes you…)
The idea is simple – don’t keep a customer on hold. Invite them to hang up and then call them back.
What are the benefits? First, you get some callers out of your queue – they can’t abandon because they’re not on the line.
Your customers benefit as well. As we’ve seen, waiting for service isn’t exactly the issue – it’s the experience of being stuck on perpetual hold which people hate.
Basically, you can give your callers two choices:
- Pace up and down with the phone pressed to their ear
- Do literally anything else.
There’s some flex in how you run virtual queuing at an inbound call center.
For instance, you could keep callers in the main queue after they’ve hung up, and place an outbound call when they reach the front.
That’s a nice, simple option. It also means you can guarantee customers that they won’t wait longer for service compared with staying on hold.
Alternatively, you could call waiting customers back at a fixed time. Customers may not get service as fast, but they also won’t have to wait by the phone – and you can focus on clearing the call queue.
#3 Reduce call volume
Obviously, the most direct way to reduce call abandonment is to reduce the number of calls.
That might seem like cheating but it’s tried and true – and there are a lot of ways to do it.
Self-service – It’s time to audit the self-service options that you offer. Do customers use them? What kinds of queries are they good for? Do customers call you with issues they could have solved themselves? Why?
There’s one major failing that a lot of self-service options have. It’s that customers don’t know about it – so tell them!
That being said… customers hate being told to check the website while they’re already in the queue. Almost three-quarters of customers find that very irritating. (This is a public service announcement – please stop telling customers to try your website!)
Omni-channel service – Pretty much every channel is cheaper for you than the phone. So what are you doing to serve customers in other channels?
You can take the self-service questions from above and ask them here too. Are you providing the channels that customers want to use, and do they know about it? Is your IVR system good, middling, or absolute torture?
Of course, it’s also very important to provide a consistent and integrated service across those channels.
Pre-emptive service – This is a topic that certain, forward-thinking contact centers are thinking about.
Traditionally, customer service has meant fire-fighting on behalf of other departments. Pre-emptive contact center service turns that on its head, asking – ‘how can we better prevent customer issues?’
Good examples include creating content to explain complex documents or giving customers delivery tracking info.
It takes some determination, but pre-emptive service has proved able to reduce inbound volume by 30%.
Where do I start?
When it comes to abandoned calls, some businesses think ‘out of sight’ means ‘out of mind’.
But wiser heads know that the next steps are ‘out of customers’ followed by ‘out of pocket.’
In our experience, these simple techniques can slash your abandoned calls by an enormous margin – provided you have the integration and automation capabilities to create them.
These are the crucial ingredients:
- the API integration to easily move data across different systems
- an automation platform that lets you create complex processes in a simple way – with no coding
With babelforce’s simple, no-code automation, you can create everything we’ve talked about here – as well as much, much more – in a matter of days or even hours.
But I’m getting ahead of myself! Your first step is to learn more, with ‘Your Guide to Call Center Automation.’