A Complete Guide to Lowering Call Abandonment Rates

01 Nov 2023 By: Michael Kansky

Updated: 01 Nov 2023

Call abandonment is a critical metric that businesses must keep in mind when providing customer support. It represents the number of callers who hang up before speaking to a representative or getting their issues resolved. In this guide, we will delve into the concept of call abandonment rates, its impact on customer satisfaction, business reputation, and operational efficiency. We will also explore the common causes behind high abandonment rates and provide actionable strategies to lower them.

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Understanding Call Abandonment Rates

Before we dive into the details, let’s get a clear understanding of what call abandonment actually means. Call abandonment occurs when customers become frustrated with long wait times or inefficient call routing and decide to end the call without receiving assistance. This metric is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the number of abandoned calls by the total number of incoming calls.

How to calculate Call Abandonment Rate

Please note that the formulas may slightly differ depending on the specifics of your business and the exact aspect of service you want to evaluate. In general, it’s about dividing the number of abandoned calls by the total number of incoming calls (or different variations of calls) and multiplying by 100% to get the percentage. Also, advice is to take into account the context behind the numbers, not just the abandonment rate itself.

Direct Calculation Method

Call Abandonment Rate = (Total Number of Abandoned Calls / Total Number of Incoming Calls) x 100%

Using Service Level

Call Abandonment Rate = (Total Number of Abandoned Calls / (Total Number of Answered Calls + Total Number of Abandoned Calls)) x 100%

Calculation including Calls Answered Within a Specified Time

Call Abandonment Rate = (Total Number of Abandoned Calls – Calls Answered Within Specific Time / Total Number of Incoming Calls – Calls Answered Within Specific Time) x 100%

The Overall Abandonment Rate

Call Abandonment Rate = (Total Number of Abandoned Calls in Queue + Total Number of Abandoned Calls During Hold) / (Total Number of Incoming Calls) x 100%

What is Call Abandonment?

Call abandonment is the act of customers terminating a call before reaching a customer service representative. It can happen due to various reasons, such as long wait times, inability to navigate complex call menus, or dissatisfaction with previous interactions with customer service agents.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common factors that contribute to call abandonment:

  • Long Wait Times: When customers are put on hold for extended periods, their patience wears thin, and they may choose to abandon the call rather than wait any longer.
  • Inefficient Call Routing: If customers are constantly transferred from one department to another without finding a resolution, they may become frustrated and abandon the call out of sheer frustration.
  • Complex Call Menus: Complicated and confusing call menus can confuse customers, making it difficult for them to navigate the options and find the right department or service they need. This confusion can lead to call abandonment.
  • Poor Previous Interactions: If customers have had negative experiences with customer service agents in the past, they may be more likely to abandon calls in the future, fearing a similar unsatisfactory outcome.

Why Call Abandonment Rates Matter

Call abandonment rates are a crucial measure of customer experience. High abandonment rates signify customer dissatisfaction and can result in reduced customer loyalty and negative word-of-mouth. Understanding and actively working to lower these rates is essential for businesses that value exceptional customer service and aim to improve customer retention.

Reducing call abandonment rates can have several benefits for businesses:

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: By minimizing call abandonment, businesses can ensure that more customers receive the assistance they need, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
  • Enhanced Brand Reputation: When customers have positive experiences with customer service, they are more likely to view the brand in a favorable light. This can contribute to a strong brand reputation and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Increased Customer Loyalty: When customers feel valued and supported, they are more likely to remain loyal to a brand and continue doing business with them in the long term.
  • Higher Customer Retention: By addressing the factors that contribute to call abandonment, businesses can improve customer retention rates, reducing the need to constantly acquire new customers.

It is important for businesses to regularly monitor and analyze call abandonment rates to identify trends and patterns. By understanding the underlying causes of call abandonment, businesses can implement targeted strategies to reduce abandonment rates and improve overall customer experience.

The Impact of High Call Abandonment Rates

High call abandonment rates can have far-reaching consequences for businesses. Let’s explore three key areas where these rates can have a significant impact.

On Customer Satisfaction

Long wait times and repeated attempts to reach a customer service representative can frustrate customers and harm their satisfaction levels. This can tarnish a business’s reputation and decrease the chances of retaining loyal customers or attracting new ones.

Imagine a scenario where a customer has a pressing issue that needs immediate attention. They call the customer service hotline, hoping for a quick resolution. However, due to high call abandonment rates, they are put on hold for an extended period. As time goes by, their frustration grows, and they start questioning the company’s commitment to customer service. This negative experience not only affects their satisfaction with the specific issue but also colors their perception of the entire business.

Furthermore, dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their negative experiences with others. In today’s interconnected world, a single disgruntled customer can quickly spread their dissatisfaction through social media platforms, online reviews, and word-of-mouth. This can have a ripple effect, deterring potential customers from engaging with the business and damaging its reputation in the long run.

On Business Reputation

Call abandonment rates are often considered a reflection of a company’s commitment to customer service. Excessively high abandonment rates can damage a business’s reputation and lead to negative reviews, causing potential customers to question the company’s reliability and professionalism.

Consider a scenario where a potential customer is researching different companies to fulfill their needs. They come across a business with a high call abandonment rate, indicating that reaching a customer service representative may be a challenging task. This raises doubts about the company’s ability to provide timely support and assistance when needed. The potential customer may question whether they can rely on this business to address their concerns or provide a satisfactory product or service.

Furthermore, negative reviews resulting from high call abandonment rates can further erode a business’s reputation. In today’s digital age, online reviews play a crucial role in shaping consumer perceptions. Potential customers often turn to review platforms to gauge the experiences of others before making a purchasing decision. If they come across multiple negative reviews highlighting issues related to call abandonment, it can significantly impact their trust in the business.

On Operational Efficiency

Higher call abandonment rates can strain operational efficiency, resulting in increased costs and decreased productivity. Businesses may need to invest in additional resources to handle the influx of abandoned calls, leading to higher expenses and potential burnout among customer service representatives.

When call abandonment rates are high, it indicates that the existing customer service infrastructure may be inadequate to handle the volume of incoming calls. This puts a strain on the operational efficiency of the business. The need to address abandoned calls and manage customer dissatisfaction requires additional resources, such as hiring more customer service representatives or implementing advanced call management systems.

These additional resources come at a cost. Hiring and training new employees, investing in technology upgrades, and implementing call-back systems all require financial investment. Moreover, the increased workload on customer service representatives can lead to burnout and decreased productivity, further impacting operational efficiency.

Furthermore, high call abandonment rates can result in missed opportunities. Each abandoned call represents a potential customer who was unable to connect with the business. These missed opportunities can translate into lost sales or potential partnerships that could have contributed to the growth and success of the business.

In conclusion, high call abandonment rates have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, business reputation, and operational efficiency. It is crucial for businesses to address and minimize these rates to ensure positive customer experiences, maintain a strong reputation, and optimize their operational processes.

Identifying Causes of High Call Abandonment Rates

Understanding the causes behind high call abandonment rates is crucial to addressing the issue effectively. Let’s explore some of the common reasons customers may abandon calls.

Long Wait Times

Long wait times, especially when accompanied by repetitive hold music or frequent interrupting messages, can be frustrating for customers. Feeling like their time is being wasted can lead to increased levels of call abandonment.

Imagine being put on hold for what feels like an eternity, listening to the same monotonous hold music over and over again. It can make even the most patient person lose their cool. Customers who are kept waiting for a long time may start to question the value of their time and decide to abandon the call altogether.

Furthermore, frequent interrupting messages can add to the frustration. Just as the customer is starting to relax, thinking they might finally get through to a representative, they are interrupted by a message that says, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” These interruptions can make customers feel like their time is being disrespected, further increasing the likelihood of call abandonment.

Inefficient Call Routing

When customers are unable to connect with the right department or representative quickly, they may feel discouraged and end the call. Inefficient call routing systems that fail to direct calls to the appropriate resources can contribute to high abandonment rates.

Imagine calling a customer service hotline and being greeted by a robotic voice that asks you to select from a series of options. You carefully select the option that best matches your issue, only to be transferred to the wrong department. This kind of inefficient call routing can be incredibly frustrating for customers.

Customers want their issues to be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. When they are bounced around from one department to another, it not only wastes their time but also gives the impression that the company is disorganized and unprepared to handle their concerns. As a result, customers may decide to abandon the call out of frustration and seek assistance elsewhere.

Poor Customer Service

Customers who have had negative previous experiences with customer service representatives may be more likely to abandon calls. Inadequate training, rude behavior, and a lack of empathy can all contribute to higher abandonment rates.

Imagine calling a customer service hotline and being greeted by a representative who sounds disinterested and unhelpful. They provide vague and unhelpful answers to your questions, leaving you feeling frustrated and unheard. This kind of poor customer service experience can leave a lasting negative impression.

Customers expect to be treated with respect and empathy when they reach out for assistance. When they encounter representatives who lack the necessary training or exhibit rude behavior, it can be incredibly off-putting. Customers may feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously and decide to abandon the call in search of better service elsewhere.

Call Abandonment Rate

Strategies to Lower Call Abandonment Rates

Fortunately, there are several proactive steps businesses can take to reduce call abandonment rates and enhance customer satisfaction. Let’s explore a few effective strategies.

Improving Call Routing

Investing in advanced call routing technologies can help ensure that customers are quickly connected with the most suitable representative. Implementing intelligent call routing strategies based on customer preferences or previous interactions can significantly decrease abandonment rates.

Improving call routing in most cases require an in-house technical expertise, a group of developers familiar with your internal customer relationship management system and telephony system capabilities.
If your organization does not currently have resources necessary to incorporate an intelligent routing you may hire consulting services from one of the following companies:

  1. RingCentral – Offers call routing features with its call center software and services.
  2. Five9 – Five9 is a leading provider of cloud contact center software for businesses.
  3. Genesys – Genesys offers a robust suite of contact center solutions that include call routing capabilities.
  4. Cisco Systems – Its Unified Contact Center products include intelligent call routing, call treatment, network-to-desktop computer telephony integration (CTI), and multichannel contact management.
  5. Avaya – They can offer call routing options for the businesses of varying sizes.
  6. Aircall – provides a call center software suite with advanced call routing features.
  7. Vonage – Their contact center solution offers intelligent call routing in the cloud.
  8. Talkdesk – Their contact center solution includes Advanced Call Routing to ensure customers are directed to the right person.
  9. 8×8 – A cloud-based phone system that offers several features, including call routing.
  10. Twilio – They offer flexible programmable voice solutions which include call routing capabilities.

Reducing Wait Times

Actively monitoring and managing call volumes can help businesses reduce wait times and minimize customer frustration. Implementing strategies such as offering callbacks or providing self-service options can provide alternatives to waiting on hold.

Here are 14 ways to reduce wait times in your call center

  1. Improve Call Routing: Using an effective Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, ensuring calls are getting directed to the right department quickly can significantly reduce wait times.
  2. Utilize Call-Back Options: Give customers the option to leave a message and have an agent call them back when they’re next in line.
  3. Increase Staff during Peak Times: By scheduling more agents during peak call times, the waiting time for customers in a queue can be reduced. Implement workforce management system in your call center to gain visibility and perform predictive staffing.
  4. Training and Development: Make sure your call center agents are well-trained and confident in handling customer queries effectively and efficiently.
  5. Use Efficient Call Center Software: The right contact center software can automate processes, reduce call handling time, and speed up response times.
  6. Prioritize Calls: Not all calls need immediate attention. Use a prioritization system to direct phones that need immediate attention to your agents first.
  7. Measure and Analyze: Monitor data and analytics to identify patterns, problems, and opportunities for improvement. Key performance indicators (KPIs) like Average Wait Time and Service Level can be instrumental in achieving efficiency.
  8. Introduce Self-Service Options: Virtual assistants, AI chatbots, and FAQ support portal can help customers with common issues, reducing the unnecessary calls.
  9. Workforce Management: Effective scheduling and workforce management can help ensure that there are enough agents available to handle call volumes effectively.
  10. Automate Routine Tasks: Automate routine tasks like data entry using AI and ML, by doing this your agents can focus more on resolving customer queries.
  11. Keep Customers Informed: Keep your customers informed about the approximate waiting time. This can manage their expectations and prevent them from becoming frustrated with long wait times.
  12. Multi-Skill Your Agents: Train your agents to handle multiple types of calls and queries. This will improve their efficiency and versatility, which in turn reduces wait times.
  13. Improve First Call Resolution: By equipping agents with the right knowledge, tools and resources to resolve issues on the first call, you can cut down on overall call volume.
  14. Review and Optimize Call Scripts: Having a carefully designed script can help your agents guide the caller effectively and efficiently, thus reducing call time.

Enhancing Customer Service Skills

Training customer service representatives to consistently provide excellent service is essential for reducing call abandonment rates. Emphasizing active listening, problem-solving, and empathy can help create positive customer interactions and build trust.

Lowering call abandonment rates is an ongoing effort that requires businesses to prioritize customer satisfaction and continuously evaluate and improve their customer service processes. By understanding the causes behind high abandonment rates and implementing effective strategies, businesses can enhance customer experiences, strengthen their reputation, and improve overall operational efficiency.

Call center
Customer Service
Michael Kansky

Michael Kansky is a seasoned entrepreneur and the CEO of LiveHelpNow and HelpSquad, two innovative companies that specialize in customer service solutions. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Kansky has cemented his reputation as a forward-thinking leader, dedicated to providing exceptional customer support strategies and technologies. Under Kansky's guidance, LiveHelpNow has become a leading provider of customer service software, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for businesses to enhance their customer interactions. From live chat and ticketing systems to knowledge bases and email management solutions, LiveHelpNow caters to a wide range of industries and boasts an impressive clientele. In addition to LiveHelpNow, Kansky also founded HelpSquad, a customer service outsourcing company. He recognized the increasing demand for top-notch customer support and aimed to bridge the gap by offering highly trained professionals who can efficiently handle customer inquiries on behalf of businesses. HelpSquad's team of experts ensures that businesses can provide timely and personalized support to their customers, resulting in improved satisfaction and loyalty. Kansky's expertise lies in understanding the evolving needs of customers and transforming those insights into practical solutions. By combining technology, training, and a customer-centric approach, he has revolutionized the way businesses approach customer service.