Call Abandonment Rate: Definition and Improvement Tips

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There are numerous call center KPIs, but some of them really make difference for any organization and any business. One such metric is a call abandonment rate as it points to many vital factors and areas of improvement, and is one of the best indicators of your overall customer service success. 

Thus, measuring the call abandonment rate is vital, but there are many questions that appear in this case. What is the abandonment rate calculation? What is the call center abandonment rate industry standard? What is the difference between an abandoned call, missed calls, and dropped calls? How to reduce abandoned calls in a call center? What aspects of customer service ought to be improved if there is a high call abandonment rate in a call center? 

Let’s deal with it.

What is the call abandonment rate?

Call abandonment rate is the percentage of calls that were left by the customer before the operator has been connected compared to the overall volume of calls. In fact, here the long discussion can begin, and we’ll describe why.

In the US, an abandoned call is an outbound call that has been taken by the prospect, but the caller (agent) hasn’t said anything and the call is hung up by the prospect. This rate is also regulated by the law, and the maximal call center abandonment rate for the US is from 3% to 5%, if it goes higher than these numbers, the organization has to pay the fine. Incoming calls that are hung up by the clients are called missed calls or dropped calls, but to clarify the difference between them we have to state that dropped calls are calls that are hung up by the customers when they’re in the call queue and the agent isn’t connected to them, while missed calls are contacts when the agent is connected to the customer but says nothing because of any reason. 

Thus, different experts name the same metric by distinct names - dropped, missed, or abandoned calls. Nonetheless, the main aspect of this discussion is that the average abandoned rate in call centers shouldn’t be higher than 5% - both for inbound calls and outbound phone lines, and this is not because of the law requirements. Anything that goes beyond 5% is higher than normal and points to serious problems with customer service quality. 

How to calculate the call abandonment rate? 

To control the call center abandonment rate, you have to know how is it measured. The formula isn’t that complicated, we will prove this by describing it below. So, here we go:

(Overall call volume - Number of abandoned calls during first 10 secs - Number of processed calls)/(Overall call volume - Number of abandoned calls during first 10 secs) x 100 = Call center abandonment rate

Thus, if you have 200 calls per day, and 30 of them are abandoned during the first 10 secs of waiting, and 150 calls are successfully processed, we get (200-30-150)/(200-30) x 100 = 11,8% of abandonment rate, and that’s a really bad score. 

You would ask, what about those 20 calls that are neither abandoned nor processed? Well, those calls could be just disconnected or dropped, or something else happened that can’t let us include them into abandoned calls, as there were no waiting time and connection. So yes, if you have calls that can’t be defined as abandoned, they can never be included in the calculation of the ACR in a call center, as it will cause a false result. 

What are the main reasons for the high call center abandonment rate? 

First of all, we have to say that the main reason for call abandonment is the long waiting time. People stay in the line with their issues waiting for assistance and get nothing in the end. Thus, let’s take into consideration how long people are ready to wait to get the service. In accordance with the study, the average time of waiting in the line is diverse for sales calls and technical support. People are more likely to stay longer if they require help, so let’s focus on the moment when 50% of callers are hanging up the phone - for assistance calls this time is around 100 seconds, while for sales calls it is less than 45 seconds. Anyhow, it is a bad idea to keep people waiting until half of them would quit with anger. 

There are also other factors that can cause the abandoned call - and we have to divide it into two types of situations. The first one happens when the person finds the resolution of their problems without external support. Imagine that the caller is browsing the web during dialing, and suddenly finds a topic that has a complete guide on problem resolution. Another occasion happens when a caller decides that the contact center doesn’t have enough abilities to resolve the problem - let’s say, the caller is looking for your call center reviews and finds some bad ones, so this fact convinces him to keep finding the solution without your help. Or, on the contrary, the customer discovers that the issue he has faced does not correspond to the competence of the call center, so the call is useless. Even though this can be a false opinion, a client would hang up the call anyway. 

How to reduce the call center abandonment rate? 

There are many tips and tactics that can help you in reaching the acceptable abandon rate of call center abandonment rate - or even less. The success rates depend on the effectiveness of agent training, quality of software tools, wise implementation of additional features, and thoughtful use of statistics. 

The best part of this paragraph is that you will improve many aspects of your call center on the way to the reduction of the call center abandonment rate. So, let’s move to the list of tips. 

Inform assessed wait time

Keep the contact center customers informed of how much time they have to wait for a connection with an agent. Firstly, this is a fair approach, as people value their time and don’t tolerate those who don’t do the same. Secondly, it will make callers feel more comfortable as they will be able at least predict how much time should they allocate for the entire process. Finally, this tactic shows your care and attention to clients, and these are the things that are highly appreciated by everyone. 

Additionally, add the call-back option immediately after the announcement of the wait time. People, who have no time to wait, will use it, and you’ll avoid a couple of frustrated callers. 

Use callback feature

Some people have no willingness to wait even for ten seconds, and they will abandon calls - no matter how high their queue position is. The callback feature resolves this issue, as it can be played immediately when the client places the call, inside the greeting message. The same message can contain the caller’s queue position number or estimated waiting time. 

The callback option has to offer to schedule, so a person has to be provided with an opportunity to choose when he or she wants to get the call. Or, vice versa, it can be just another cause for unnecessary frustration. 

Implement omnichannel approach

The target audience consists of diverse people with distinct preferences, wishes, and adored communication channels. The last fact is the most vital for you - some of your clients may not like to contact you by phone calls, and messenger or live chat could be much preferable for them.

There are numerous communication channels available, and what’s even better is that they can be integrated with call center solutions. Social networks, messengers, webchats, chatbots, SMS, and email - all of these contact channels can be favorites for some of your consumers. And now think of how shorter would the queue times be if even 25% would use optional communication channels. 

Fill the client’s time with a task

A great trick that can drag a customer’s focus away from becoming bored, annoyed, or frustrated. People who come with an assistance request have a goal to be assisted as fast as possible, so you have a right to ask them for some information or involve them in the problem-solving procedure. 

The simplest sample of a such trick is chat communication, where the bot asks the client to describe the issue in detail in the first message. Such a message can be really long, so it takes more than a minute to write it. But, as the system is already trying to link an agent, the client wouldn’t identify how the waiting time passes. 

Use self-service options

This approach is focused on decreasing the call volume, but it is still adored by a massive number of people all around the world. In the US, this number is around 60% of all customers, so you are free to implement all self-servicing options you want. 

First of all, use the IVR system, but do it wisely as many people consider IVR rather an evil than a great tool. Check this blog to find out what you shouldn't do with your IVR. A little spoiler: at least let people pass it fast. 

Chatbots are another modern self-service tool that can greatly improve your image in customers’ eyes. They can easily navigate people and help in the resolution of easy requests, or link customers with contact center agents via chat. 

Knowledge base and FAQs are also great, or even tutorials on YouTube can become an enjoyable and funny part of your self-service strategy. 

Inform agents of call volume

Use real-time dashboards or internal chat announcements with the stats of up-to-minute call numbers, or the number of customers in a queue. Agents have to see these stats regularly to understand the dynamics of call volume changes and decide where they need to speed up their customer interactions and put additional effort into handling call peak hours. 

But do not overdo such things, and don’t do it in an aggressive manner - agents are under morale pressure every day and many call centers have already experienced agent attrition, and the wrong implementation of this recommendation can cause emotional burnout or another negative impact. 

Set up the schedule to tackle call peaks 

As your call center solution has to provide you with deep call center statistics and reports, you definitely know when call peaks, and, vice versa, call downtimes (when there are a few customer calls). With this knowledge, you can easily adapt your call center management and schedules to have more agents during the peak time of day and fewer - during downtimes. 

It can be surprising, but there are many organizations that do not do so. As a result, they have both problems dealing with busy periods and paying additional labor costs.

Take a look at agents’ after-call activities

Agents have to do other things despite just handling calls. Nonetheless, post-call actions, such as filling out the customer card or anything else don’t have to take agents away from their main responsibilities - processing calls and providing customer service. 

Try to make call center managers monitor agents' post-call work to determine any violation, negligence, or simply inefficiency. Organize special training sessions if you see that these call center operations consume too much time. 

Control Average Call Duration rate

One of the key call center metrics that can powerfully influence the call center abandonment rate is Average Call Duration, and its “brother” Average Handle Time. In short, too-long calls are considered call anomalies, and this can be a consequence of dead air times, agents’ lack of knowledge or skills, call avoidance, agent absenteeism, and so on.

Detect too long calls and find out if it is caused by agents’ negligence or poor customer service and then make informed decisions about further actions. 

Boost First Call Resolution

The main call center score is the First Call Resolution rate, as it determines the quality of customer experience, customer satisfaction levels, and overall level of service. How does it influence the call center abandonment rate? 

First of all, if an issue is resolved during the first contact, it means that there won’t be another call, and it decreases the call volume. Secondly, people who are coming for service on the second or third time are already annoyed by your poor service and the chance that they would drop the call is much higher. Additionally, it boosts customer satisfaction, so people who are acknowledged your high service efficiency can be more tolerant to wait for assistance. 

Identify clients

The very simple tip to implement - if the caller is already in your CRM system and he can be identified, so do that! The simplest example of identification is that you call the caller by his name when he enters the queue. 

It has little influence on speeding up the call queue passing, but on the other hand, such an approach shows your care about regular customers and makes them smile. 

Implement a proactive customer service model

How to reduce call volumes? Solve customer issues before they consider them real issues! 

If it sounds strange to you, don’t worry - proactive customer service is gaining popularity, but it is still a kind of exotic tactic of marketing. Anyhow, if you can resolve a customer’s problem or fulfill his need before he comes to you with such a request, how would it influence your call volume? 

To be honest, proactive customer service can be your strong assistant in many fields, but to learn more about it, check this article. 


As we have already mentioned, the call center abandon rate is one of the key metrics in the entire call center industry. It is calculated by a special formula, and it has to be less than 5%. There can be a little confusion between such terms as missed calls, dropped calls, and abandoned calls. Abandoned calls are determined as the outbound calls that are hung up by the call receiver because of the caller’s silence, and are regulated by law - if you have more than 5% of abandoned calls, you pay a fine. On the other hand, most people understand abandoned calls as a synonym for dropped or missed calls - inbound or outbound calls that have been hung up by the prospect because of the long waiting time to link with the agent. 

There are many reasons for abandoned calls, but the main one is the long waiting time in the queue, and another reason is that client has found the resolution on his own or decided to keep looking for it without your help. 

Reduction of abandonment rate is important, but impossible without all-in-one call center software that would provide you with needed stats and other features, like self-service options or agent blending to reduce call volumes - the root cause of long waiting times. 

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