Calculating Abandon Rate in Light of Customer Experience and IVRs

By: Peg Ayers and Turaj Seyrafiaan

Definition of Abandon Rate: The percentage of calls ended by the caller before being answered by an agent.

Calculation: Abandoned Calls/ (Abandoned Calls + Answered Calls) X 100

Example: 90 calls are answered; 10 calls are abandon before they’re answered. Abandon rate is 10/ (10+90) which is 10%.

Alternate Calculation: Abandoned Calls waiting for more than x seconds/ (Abandoned Calls waiting more than x seconds + Answered Calls) X 100

Like all Contact Center metrics, abandon rate must be considered in light of the customer experience and the objectives of your organization. In a highly competitive retail environment, where a potential customer might choose to call someone else in a matter of a few seconds, the abandon rate should be kept very low—nearly nonexistent. In a tech support environment, where the customer really needs to speak directly to your agent, you can tolerate a higher abandon rate. The same goes for a center handling billing questions—the customer will wait for you because you have the answers.

It’s important not to get carried away with this concept, though, because you want to avoid a reputation for being extremely difficult to reach. This can cause customers to choose one of your competitors at the buying stage before they ever have to deal with you for tech support or billing. Keep in mind that it is also possible for a caller to abandon a call for reasons not relating to the Contact Center. This is why some centers use the alternative calculation.

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system requires more detailed analysis of abandons. At first glance, it might seem you have no abandons at all, as each customer is immediately answered by the system. Some paths in the IVR might lead customers to answers that require no contact with your agents, so those are not abandons. If the customer gets your billing address, their current balance or your hours of operation from the IVR and then hangs up, that’s a completed call. But if your customer hangs up in the midst of trying to provide the answers required by the IVR, like account number, zip code or answers to their security questions, that is an abandon and may point to opportunities for improvement in your IVR.

Used in combination with other metrics, such as service level, abandon rate can help you determine whether your staffing is correctly distributed. If you see higher abandons on Mondays and none on Thursdays, you may want to look at additional part-timers or alternate schedules (for example, four ten-hour days) to create better balance. If you see many abandons in the IVR when it requests an account number, you could consider an alternate path for customer identification. Like all contact center key performance indicators, abandon rate has a story to tell.

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