4 tips for reducing call abandonment

Posted: 01/08/2016 - 16:07 | Inova Solutions
By making wait times as easy on the caller as possible, call centers can handle more customers better.

When a customer abandons a call, it's typically a sign of dissatisfaction and frustration. It is the hallmark of a negative customer experience, and positive ones are extremely important to a call center's effectiveness. It's difficult to identify the reason why a caller abandons a particular call, but by making wait times as easy on the caller as possible, call centers can better handle more volume.

1. Reduce wait time
Most obviously, the best way to decrease call abandonment rates is to reduce call wait times. Callers have a difficult time accepting being on hold. In fact, according to a Velaro study, most consumers won't accept a hold time of longer than a minute. The simplest way to ensure that callers stay on the line is to make sure their call is answered promptly and efficiently.

Increasing the number of representatives to answer calls means a call center can handle more calls per hour, and reduce the average amount of time a customer is on hold. Also, making sure the callers who have been waiting the longest get priority to get service will help keep one or two calls from pulling up the average call wait time. Being able to adequately handle call volume is a sign of effective call center management.

2. Predict high call volume
Of course, hiring more and more representatives just isn't feasible for the majority of call centers. However, using call center software to track call volume and see what times lead to the highest number of calls per hour - or the highest call abandonment rate - can help managers know how to plan shift rotations to ensure that the largest number of representatives are available at peak times.

"It's important to manage the peaks as well as the valleys of call volume."

Additionally, the inverse is true; it's important to manage the peaks as well as the valleys of call volume, and not understaffing call centers during those low volume times. Many callers try to time their calls to avoid peak times and get a short wait to speak with a representative. However, if there aren't enough representatives to properly manage call volume during those times, callers might be faced with wait times just as long as if they had called at peak hours.

3. Manage expectations
Nobody likes to feel like they're being played. Customer service calls often have a reputation for being tedious, faceless experiences that irritate customers with long wait times and unhelpful representatives. That isn't the truth for the majority of calls, of course, but when customers feel like they're not being treated properly, they are more likely to abandon a call.

Giving customers updates on wait times gives them a benchmark to monitor their hold times.Giving customers updates on wait times gives them a benchmark to monitor their hold times.

Giving callers regular updates on the status of wait times, or an idea of how many callers are ahead of them in the queue goes a long way to helping customers feel like they're not wasting their time on a never-ending hold. Callbacks are also a good choice for managing longer-than-average wait times - let the caller hang up, and with the use call center software, it will call them back once its their turn to speak with a representative.

To that end, it's important that callers know what they're getting into. Callers that are entering a high-volume queue should know that. If possible, making sure customers are being transferred to the right department and preparing for a customer call by having the caller's information already present (either by tracking account numbers or by repeated use of a phone number) can help make the user not have to repeat information endlessly. It can also help to keep call length down, allowing representatives to serve more customers over a period of time.

4. Track data
As Call Centre Helper showed, more than 60 percent of sales calls drop out after the caller has spent one minute on hold. It's important to try and get as many calls answered before that one minute wait time hits, to keep the call abandonment rate as low as possible.

The call abandonment rate is not nearly the only data point that's tracked in the call center. First call resolution, average handle time and customer satisfaction are all key performance indicators when tracking metrics for a call center. Measuring those statistics alongside call abandonment rate can help ensure that a call center is working properly.

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