What Is Contact Abandonment Rate In a Contact Center, and How Do You Improve It?

Keep customers on the line to boost sales and retention rates

What is Abandonment Rate in a Contact Centre and How Do You Improve It
Contact CentreWFOInsights

Published: January 23, 2023

Charlie Mitchell

A customer rings the contact center, changes their mind halfway, and abandons the call.

Another customer dials the contact center multiple times, looking to solve a query, but fails to reach an agent.

Differentiating between these scenarios and initiating the appropriate intervention is critical for contact center leaders looking to boost customer sales and retention rates.

The contact abandonment rate metric captures all possible lost interaction opportunities. By breaking it down, businesses can start to uncover who abandoned and why.

As such, many inbound contact centers consider it an essential metric to track and keep below a minimum threshold. Doing so ensures the organization does not lose out on business.

Contact Abandonment Rate Definition and Formula

Contact abandonment rate measures the percentage of a contact center’s total inbound demand that fails to reach an agent over a set period.

calculate their contact abandonment rate, contact centers can use this formula:

Contact Abandonment Rate = (Total number of abandoned contacts ÷ total number of inbound contacts) x 100

The calculation incorporates both unavoidable and avoidable abandons.

Unavoidable abandons include instances where a customer has disconnected after fewer than five seconds. In such cases, the customer likely changed their mind or soon realized they had dialed the wrong number.

Meanwhile, abandon calls last longer than this five-second threshold but disconnect before an agent picks up.

Contact centers often like to differentiate between these types of abandons to focus only on those within their control.

To do so, they can configure logs to filter out unavoidable abandons from their calculations.

After doing so, contact centers can use this measure to see how long it takes five to ten percent of their customers to abandon. From this, they can set a reasonable service level target.

Such a process requires the operation to split the metric between various channels.

What Causes Call Abandonment, and How Do You Improve It?

The customer might go through several steps in the CX journey before abandoning the call.

An overly complex IVR, a long queue, poor choice of music, and low agent availability are the most common reasons customers drop off.

With these causes in mind, contact centers can often improve call abandonment rates by:

  • Redesigning their IVR navigation so that it is easy to understand and follow. Add multiple language options if needed.
  • Offering a call-back option in case no agent is readily available.
  • Adding digital self-service options or – more simply – reviewing and updating online FAQs.

There are many more quick fixes a contact center may also try. For instance, adding a ring time before transitioning to IVR sometimes helps to lower the post-IVR wait time.

Yet, a more systematic approach will likely first involve the contact center investigating when its customers typically abandon.

If it’s after a particular on-hold message, consider changing it. If it is after a specific wait time, perhaps craft a message just before that point.

After taking this first step, the contact center can consider other courses of action. These may include those listed above or the following three strategies.

1. Give Customers More Contact Options

Customer patience is dwindling. As such, it’s perhaps worth providing them with more options for contactless customer service.

For instance, a company could use an IVR system to give customers tips on using online self-service tools if they’re not comfortable waiting on hold.

Also, it could consider adding a voicebot to the inbound channel. Doing so may help to solve simple questions quickly, lower live agent demand, and reduce wait times for other customers.

2. Use Workforce Management Tools

Forecasting inbound contact center demand is tricky. Yet, if businesses can access workforce management (WFM) tools, they will typically do so much more accurately.

After all, these solutions contain hundreds of forecasting algorithms. Contact centers can test each on historical demand data to determine the optimal option for their environment.

Moreover, these solutions continuously reforecast using the latest data, allowing businesses to build better schedules and limit the occasions where the contact center goes understaffed.

In doing so, the operation restricts contact abandon rates with accurate staffing.

3. Find Ways to Lower Handling Times

The faster a customer connects with an agent, the narrower window of time they have to abandon.

Reducing the average handling time (AHT) of each interaction frees agents up to engage with customers more quickly.

There are numerous ways a contact center can do so. Pressuring agents with AHT targets is perhaps the worst, as it typically adversely affects first contact resolution (FCR) rates.

Better ways include coaching signposting as a call control technique, implementing a voicebot to gather customer information upfront, and empowering agents with more customer context.

For more ideas to reduce AHT and therefore improve contact abandon rates, read our article: Reduce Average Handling Time with These Ten Tips



Workforce ManagementWorkforce Optimization

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