Calculating abandoned call rates in the call center -- what to include

Expert Lori Bocklund offers advice on what to include when calculating the rate of abandoned call center calls.

What is used to calculate positive abandoned calls? Is there a watermark for length, like 60 seconds, that should...

be used before counting a call as an abandoned call for the staff?

The term "positive abandoned calls" is not commonly used. Most call centers consider abandoned calls as negative, except for situations where queue messages provide specific information that might trigger the caller to hang up. An example of this would be a utility that places an announcement in queue saying, "We are aware of an outage at ... and expect restoration by 3:00." In that case, they would count abandons that occur right after the message differently than other abandons.

There is no watermark. Some centers will not include calls that abandon before their target service level in either the abandon rate or the service level calculation. There is no set industry standard on either the time or whether to include it, however; this is a decision each center must make. Some centers also choose not to include "short abandons" that might indicate a wrong number or other factor out of the center's control. However, again, there is no standard on the number to use or whether or not to include or exclude those calls.

Finally, you should not count an abandoned call for staff unless and until it has been offered to a queue for staff servicing. For example, you should not count calls offered and abandoned in a self-service application (such as the interactive voice response (IVR) system) as offered to the staff queue. Staff and queue abandonment rates should include only those calls that they had the opportunity to answer.

This was first published in July 2007

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