Quality organisations focus on success measures such as customer acquisition or customer satisfaction and loyalty. Measuring the number of abandoned calls can often feel like a metric that measures failure within the contact centre.
Abandoned call levels reveal yesterday's history Workforce management (WFM) is about predicting the future and placing the right people, in the right place, at the right time to answer calls and to meet service level agreements (SLAs).
Experience suggests that abandoned calls are all about cause and effect. The effect is callers ringing off before being answered. It is not easy to establish the real reason – could it be wrong numbers, the caller's doorbell rings or queue messages have failed to set correct expectations as to how quickly the calls will be answered? In reality most SLAs tend to revolve around a measure of percentage calls answered in a set number of seconds, such as 80 percent of calls answered in 20 seconds (80PCA20).
An experienced contact centre manager will also know that 80PCA20 equals 5% abandoned calls, while statistics show 90PCA15 gives a 1.5% rate. Each organisation will agree its own appropriate call response level. However, targeting for success and using a good WFM solution will mean that if you consistently meet service levels you will also meet customer expectations, and the number of abandoned calls will decrease.
A customer recently told us that the introduction of workforce management had radically changed the way it worked, providing an objective cultural shift away from abandoned call rates and towards grades of service. Emphasis is now placed on the number of calls answered within 30 seconds. As a result the callers have noticed a dramatic improvement in response times and abandon rates have dropped significantly, all with contained costs.
In another instance, where a contact centre with high abandonment rates had previously run its requirements through an Erlang formula, the calculator had indicated that the centre needed 35 additional agents. Having recruited and trained the additional people it is true the rate dropped to practically zero, but 33 of those people spent most of the time sitting around waiting for a call.
The real problem with abandoned calls is that you cannot tell whether it is 1,000 people producing 1,000 missed calls or 100 people responsible for 10 each. If it is 100 callers, then as soon as they are answered and their needs resolved, the problem is solved. It is easy to deduce that the costs in having an over-staffed centre will be out of all proportion.
Abandon call rates is a measure that is often of most interest to those outside the contact centre. A focus on quality of service targets is more likely to delight customers and increase first contact resolution. It stands to reason that abandoned calls will take care of themselves, when instead your focus is on quality and consistently meeting your service levels. Effective resource planning will allow you to improve customer satisfaction, enhance first contact resolution without additional costs, while eliminating the target of abandoned calls.
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