What is Abandonment Rate? [& 7 Ways You Can Improve It]

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Sarah Chambers


Many customers have called a customer support contact center and hung up before they manage to reach an agent. The reasons for this can vary; maybe the customer solved the problem through self-service content, or perhaps they became frustrated with the long wait time and decided to hang up.

call center abandonment rate

The frequency of these situations is measured using a metric called abandonment rate. In this post, we will look at how to lower the number of times this happens in your queue.

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Improving your abandonment rate will vastly impact the customer experience and the perception that customers have of your company. Lowing this critical call center metric has far-reaching consequences for customer loyalty and repeat business.

Plus, this metric can be a key indicator for your call center efficiency. If your abandonment rate is high, it can signal that your call center is understaffed, hold time is too long, or that you have technical issues. Regardless of the reason, a high abandonment rate is cause for concern.

Let’s go over some techniques that you can use to lower your call abandonment rate.

1. Occupy your customers while they’re on the line.

While waiting in your customer support queue, customers are likely to get bored listening to hold music and staring at the wall, wondering when someone will answer the phone. There’s nothing else for customers to focus on, which can lead to increased frustration and lack of patience.

Instead, why not get customers to engage with an activity while waiting, reducing the perceived amount of time they’re on hold. Customers may need to provide some information about themselves before an agent can help them, such as an address or account details.

Asking for this information beforehand also reduces the time customers will spend on the phone when they finally reach an agent. Agents can get directly onto solving the problem without having to spend too much time inputting data at the beginning of the call.

2. Offer virtual queuing (call-back service).

Consider implementing a call-back service that allows customers to opt for keeping their place in the queue without having to actually wait on hold. Instead, the system will call the customer back when an agent becomes available, allowing them to go on with their day while waiting for you to get back in touch.

By giving customers the option to choose a call-back, call volumes are managed and it minimizes caller frustration at having to wait in a long queue. You’re saving your customers time while ensuring they can reach an agent and reducing the risk that they abandon the call after however many minutes of waiting on hold.

Call-backs earn customer loyalty by improving the customer experience. Customers will appreciate the option to get on with their lives while certain that an agent will get back to them.

3. Schedule more agents to work during peak times.

Hiring more agents would be the perfect solution to improve call abandonment rates if money were no obstacle, but most organizations don’t have unlimited budgets. It may not be feasible to bring in more staff to tackle the phone queue.

But the fact remains that increasing the number of agents available is the easiest way to answer more customer calls. It reduces wait times and the likelihood that customers are going to hang up out of frustration.

However, instead of hiring more people, try to schedule your existing staff to cover peak hours, days, product launches, or seasons to handle the influx of customer calls. Optimize the resources you already have available to lower call abandonment rates and make customers happier.

4. Let customers know how long they’re going to wait.

Usually, the unknown causes customers to become frustrated – it’s tough when you don’t know how long it will take to have your call answered. Remember, customers are busy and don’t have unlimited time to wait on hold.

That’s why it is useful to let customers know how long their “estimated wait time” is going to be to set expectations and reduce frustration. If they know how long they will be waiting, customers are much more likely to hold their place in the queue.

Setting the right expectation limits the chance that customers will abandon their call just as they were going to be put through to an agent. They can make an informed decision about how long they want to stay on the line, even if they do choose to call back later.

5. Provide your staff with the right training and tools.

Another way to reduce your call abandonment rate is to increase the number of customer queries that your staff can successfully deal with in the same space of time. Well-trained staff can handle more customers more quickly, using their know-how to create positive customer experiences and maintain the brand perception of your company.

Invest in call center training to ensure your staff has the skills that are necessary to handle high volumes of customers. Customers will appreciate having their concerns dealt with quickly, although efficiency shouldn’t overshadow the need for quality service.

Equip staff with the right tools in order for them to do their jobs effectively – old and slow systems can significantly increase the handling time of each call and limit the number of customers that your agents can get through. Make sure they have the latest equipment that will help to smooth out the call experience and serve more customers.

6. Offer your customers other choices.

When customers are waiting on hold, they may be open to other channels that will help to solve their problem. Usually, customers are calling your support line because they want a quick fix, but it might be easier for them to consult online FAQs or customer support knowledge base or use a chatbot, for example.

If you introduce customers to multiple options, they are more likely to be able to solve their problem and might not even need to speak to one of your agents. Yes, they will hang up and head to one of your other channels, but this is a good kind of queue abandonment.

Giving customers more options reduces the load on your support team and increases the ability of customers to self-serve. Customers will be more satisfied if they can solve their problems themselves, creating a positive perception of your business.

7. Fix customer problems at the root.

Sometimes you need to look at why so many customers are calling in the first place. This may be nothing to do with your contact center or your agents but might be something you could fix, like a defect with your product or problems with your website.

If you’re battling against high call volumes, long wait times, and high abandonment rates, you should work to fix the problem that caused the high volume in the first place. It may not be an issue that your support team could solve themselves, but it would be useful to share this feedback with the teams that can make constructive changes.

Fixing problems at the root will reduce the number of calls being made to your contact center, lower wait times and as a result will have a positive impact on your call abandonment rate.

Over to You

Abandoned calls mean your business isn’t delivering the quality service that customers expect. They are a missed opportunity to forge a meaningful interaction between your business and customers and might mean that your customers will be thinking of defecting to a competitor who will provide them with superior service.

Lowering call abandonment rate means your business can help more customers and offer a consistently rewarding customer experience. Your customers will be more satisfied and more loyal, spending more with your company in the long-term.

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