How to Reduce Abandon Call Rate in Your Call Center

Abandon call rate (ACR) is one of the most important call center KPIs. It can either increase your customer satisfaction or make it lower than ever. How to calculate and reduce ACR for inbound and outbound calls? We’ve tried to outline what you need to learn about it.
Inbound Calls: Optimize Your Business Processes How to Reduce Abandon Call Rate for Inbound Calls
Outbound Calls: Do Not Forget About Regulations How to Reduce Abandon Call Rate for Outbound Calls

Inbound Calls: Optimize Your Business Processes

The Definition of Abandon Call Rate for Inbound Calls

For inbound calls, the abandon call rate is the percentage of calls where customers hang up before reaching agents. However, it sounds too vague because there are different types of such calls. The caller might hang up for different reasons: the person dialed a wrong number; the call was placed outside your business hours; the caller hung up because all the agents were busy; the call wasn’t picked up by an agent. The first case is definitely not your fault. As to the second one, it does make sense to take some measures to retain these customers: to route them to voicemail or offer a callback option; assign these missed calls to agents notifying them by email; to extend your call center opening hours or outsource these calls. But the last two cases are related to the abandonment rate in your call center.

How to Calculate ACR in Your Call Center

It is simple. Use the following formula:

As a rule, the calls that lasted less than 5 seconds are not considered as abandoned ones because there is always a possibility of misdialing. You should deduct such calls from the total number.

How Long Are Your Clients Ready to Wait?

It depends on the reason why they call you. The waiting time for the sales line and customer service is significantly different. You can see this on the graphs below from the Call Centre Helper:

Source: Call Centre Helper

The sales graph shows that only 38% of callers are willing to wait in the queue after the first minute. The reason is obvious. Why do they need to waste their time when they can spend it more productively?

The support graph is entirely different. Customers who want to solve the technical problem are ready to wait longer. 65% of them are still in the queue after the first minute. Moreover, the survey from Genesys, State of Customer Experience, shows that 45% of customers are ready to wait from 2 to 5 minutes “to speak to a more knowledgeable representative”. 18% of customers are willing to wait even longer than 5 minutes. Of course, it all depends on the customer’s mood. The person who wants to file a complaint won’t wait in the queue long. They will simply hang up and use other channels of communication.

How to Reduce Abandon Call Rate for Inbound Calls

1. Offer Self-Service Options

The first way to reduce the average abandoned call rate in your call center is to offer high-quality self-service to your customers. They don’t need to wait for the information they can find on your company’s website or in your IVR menu. It can only frustrate them. So check if your self-service channels have the latest information about your product or service. It will help you to significantly reduce your ACR.

2. Use Other Channels of Communication

Multichannel support can have a positive impact on your customer experience. The Genesys’ survey, mentioned above, shows that despite the high popularity of phone calls (83% of respondents), customers prefer using other channels as well. These are web chat (58%), email (56%), and mobile messaging (53%). All these channels have something in common: they allow your customers to save time and do other things while texting. So take it into account when creating your call center improvement plan.

3. Offer a Callback

Another way to reduce the ACR in your call center is to offer a callback option to your customers. Voiptime Cloud call center has an IVR callback feature that allows your customers to request a callback if they prefer not to wait in the queue. It will increase your customer satisfaction and give your agents an opportunity not to lose a single request.

4. Adjust Schedules and Add More Agents

Let’s assume that you have taken all the steps mentioned above but ACR remains high. What if the problem isn’t with technology but with people instead? Who ensures that your agents adhere to the schedule?  Even if only one or two of them are late regularly, it increases the average speed of answer (ASA) and affects your call center hold time statistics. It is also important to make sure that your agents’ lunchtime doesn’t overlap. It is okay when one of five agents in the team goes to the lunch counter. But what if half of your agents decide to have a lunch break during a call peak? The result will be predictable: your ACR figures will skyrocket.

Pay attention to your agents’ workload in different periods of time. Analyze your reports per hour to find out when the number of abandoned calls is bigger. If they don’t manage to hit your SLA targets consider adding more seats (it is quite easy to do with a cloud-based call center solution). Or outsource some of your call center business tasks. It also can have a positive impact on your ACR.

5. Inform Customers About Estimated Waiting Time

Nobody likes uncertainty. That’s why callers are less likely to hang up if they know their estimated time in the queue. The announced waiting time allows your customers to decide if their issue is worth waiting or it is better to request a callback.

6. Pay Attention to On-Hold Music and Messages

Different researches show that most of the customers like to listen to music in queues. Therefore, choose the on-hold music for your IVR carefully. It shouldn’t be too loud and repetitive. Otherwise, it will drive your customers up the wall. To guess your customers’ music preferences isn’t as difficult as it may seem. When tracking your ACR statistics, pay attention to the moment of your steepest drop-off. If it occurs when the music kicks in, the answer is obvious: customers don’t accept your music choice.

On-hold messages also matter. Nobody likes to hear about their waiting time in the queue every 30 seconds if they need to wait 10 minutes or so. It will be especially irritating if you add to it phrases like “your call is important to us”. Experts recommend increasing intervals after each message. For example, if the second message is played back after 1 minute of on-hold music, the third should be played back after 2 minutes, and so on.

7. Create Contingency Plan

Even the most thoroughly thought call routing strategy is a hypothesis. It is not always possible to predict customer behavior in different situations. Your call center needs to be prepared for high call volumes. Build a contingency plan that would allow you to handle such situations without increasing your customers’ waiting time. Thus you can avoid an awkward moment when some teams find out that other available agents are sitting on the sidelines during the crisis.

8. Find the Root Cause of the Problem

That is when reporting software comes in handy. Voiptime Cloud call center solution has reporting tools that allow you to track your agents’ performance, getting detailed statistics on your inbound calls. By analyzing an ACD report you can detect the time when the number of missed calls is the biggest and see how the amount of time your clients spent on the IVR and in the call queue. SL report will show you the time when your agents don’t manage to achieve your service level and the number of abandoned calls at a given time. The report can be shown in graphical form as well which makes it more helpful for those who perceive graphs better than tables. These tools will help you to find the root cause of the problem and make informed decisions.

Outbound Calls: Do Not Forget About Regulations

The Definition of Abandon Call Rate (ACR) for Outbound Calls

It is the percentage of outbound calls, where the connection was established with the live individual but terminated by a caller before the connection with the agent. It can happen for two reasons: 1) overdialing - a predictive dialer places more calls than agents can answer; 2) mistakes of Answer Machine Detection technology - a software identifies live individuals as answer machines and terminates calls.

How to Calculate ACR

Ofcom, the British regulator for the communications services, applies the following formula:

where R is abandoned call rate, D is the number of calls dropped by the predictive dialler, AM is the number of calls connected to agents that were subsequently classified as answering machines, AL is the number of calls connected to agents that were classified as live, FR is the measured false positive rate for the appropriate campaign (the live calls that were mistakenly identified as ones with answer machines).

Regulation of Outbound Calling in Different Countries

Regulation is the main difference between ACR for inbound and outbound calls. Regulation authorities don’t care about inbound ACR in your call center because it is mainly your company’s headache. But the situation with outbound campaigns is completely different. In this case, authorities do care about ACR because such calls annoy customers who are taxpayers (and voters) as well. There are different laws in different countries that limit the abandon call rate. For example, in the US, it shall be no more than 3% of calls over 30 days. In the UK and India, this threshold is 3% over 24 hours. Also, most countries require that telemarketers consult with national Do Not Call registers and have internal DNC lists for customers who asked not to contact them anymore.

To learn more about telemarketing regulations in different countries, check out our Complete Guide to Telemarketing Laws and Regulations.

How to Reduce Abandon Call Rate for Outbound Calls

1. Use a Suitable Dialer

A predictive dialer is good for big teams (5+ sales reps). The more agents you have, the more precisely it can calculate when the agent is about to be available and dial the next number. However, when your team is small the system can dial more numbers than your agents are able to answer that results in high abandonment rates. In these cases, we recommend using a power dialer that calls numbers one by one and dials only when an agent is available. 

2. Change Settings

Reduce your dialer’s ACR target. It is a good idea to reduce the ACR target for smaller teams. In the latter half of the shift the predictive dialer tries to compensate for higher dropped calls at the start of the shift. Therefore, if the target is reduced from 3 to 2%, it will help your agents significantly.

Set appropriate ring time. The minimal ring time allowed by different regulations is 15 seconds. However, it has to be at least a bit longer because it can take more time for a call to actually connect and start to ring. We recommend setting at least 30 seconds of ring time. It will be enough to connect with mobiles and to know about unsuccessful call attempts (when a number does not exist or is out of range). At the same time, check if your ring time isn’t too long, because it can have a negative impact on dialer performance. 

3. Ensure Schedule Adherence 

Schedule adherence is important for outbound campaigns as well. If half of your team is regularly late how can you take advantage of using predictive dialing? With our call center solution, you can see their lateness in detail. All you need is to set the beginning of the shift and the system will count the minutes your agents are late. Voiptime Cloud call center software allows you to track all the agent’s actions – how long they are logged-in, what statuses they have and how long, and so on. You will also be able to get the statistics on the number of calls, missed by each agent. All these data enable you to decide on what steps to take.

Conclusion

As you can see, the answer to the question “What is an abandoned call?” may be different. The same is true for the importance of the abandon call rate. As for inbound calls, it is the company’s internal problem that affects its bottom line and customer experience. As for outbound campaigns, it is the issue that affects your customers and is regulated by laws. However, in both cases, efficient call center software will be very helpful in reducing ACR.

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