Don’t Worry About Every Abandoned Call

Call center managementCalls abandoned in 10 seconds or less are not sales opportunities!

We learned that “common knowledge” is not so common – nor accurate. Common knowledge throughout our industry is that reducing call abandonment is key to a campaign’s success. For years, both clients and service providers worked hard to minimize call abandonment, striving for an unattainable, or close to “zero abandonment.” The prevailing wisdom was that all calls equal opportunity, and every abandoned call represented a lost opportunity. As Intelemedia strived to reach the lowest abandonment rate possible, we began to question if every abandoned call actually reduced a client’s profitability. Perhaps some abandoned calls did not represent a lost revenue opportunity, making a percentage of abandonment acceptable. More importantly, accepting every call could actually harm the performance of a product. This theory centered on calls that abandoned in less than 10 seconds. While everyone agrees a caller on hold for more than 10 seconds needs to be answered, a new thinking occurred that a caller who hangs up in less than 10 seconds may not be a legitimate opportunity.

Intelemedia Research

Intelemedia Conducts Deep Dive to Learn More about Abandonments

With this theory in hand, Intelemedia conducted independent primary research to identify the reasons for abandoned calls and to uncover their economic value to marketers. First a caller survey was conducted to understand the reasons behind abandoned calls. Secondly, we developed an abandonment profile for each client. Two clients were selected for this research.

Abandonment Survey

Regarding the survey, we made immediate follow-up calls to abandoned callers to ask one survey question. The research was conducted on two separate occasions for two separate accounts. Seven percent (7%) of one company’s callers agreed to participate; ten percent (10%) of the second company’s, resulting in 120 responses.

We asked one simple survey question of the respondents, and gave them optional responses. “Why did you hang up prior to reaching an agent?”

  1. Wrong number
  2. Wanted the phone number recorded in their phone to call again
  3. Something else required their immediate attention
  4. Decided they were not interested
  5. Other

The chart below highlights our findings.

Intelemedia’s Findings on Call Abandonment

First, our survey results reaffirmed that not all abandonment represents lost opportunities. Secondly, one can segment abandoned calls into two buckets: actionable and non-actionable. Actionable means this caller represented a real opportunity, whereas non-actionable represented a call that would not offer an immediate revenue opportunity.

If you add the above percentages together for wrong number, recording the number to call later, and interruption requiring their attention, they total 75% and 84% respectively. None of these reasons merit additional action, as the caller would not be responsive to a buying discussion and more receptive to a purchase when they call back.

In summary, you cannot eliminate all call abandonment, nor should you try to. With every group of incoming calls, expect some abandons. Some calls you don’t want, and other abandons are out of your control.

Abandonment Profile

Abandonment Profile

Recognizing one can gain important insight by mapping callers’ abandonment profiles, Intelemedia charted how much time elapsed before a call was abandoned. We charted how many seconds before a caller hung up; then we charted the percentage of abandoned calls for each second measured.

The chart below is a typical abandonment report and represents the abandon calls profile from the clients involved in our research. The bar chart shows the percentage of calls abandoned by second, broken into one second increments starting with 1 second and running through 30 seconds. The left side shows the percentage of calls abandoned. The dotted line corresponds to the percentages on the right side showing the cumulative percentage of total abandoned calls.

Analyzing the chart, we can map and predict a caller’s tolerance for hold time. For example, notice the red bars indicating the actual points in time that represent a significant percentage increase in abandonment rates. This tells us that at 3, 11 – 14, and 23-27 seconds represent significant abandonment rates. Also, following the cumulative lines shows that just under 50% of all abandonments occur in the first 14 seconds. This tells us two important points. First, the majority of abandons occurred in less than 14 seconds, and from our survey results, we determined that most of these calls were not legitimate opportunities, not worth trying to save. However, the 50% abandoning after waiting longer than 14 seconds represent legitimate opportunities, and where the focus on abandonment should occur.

Since we’ve determined that short abandons should not be the primary area of focus, it’s important that you know at what point in time they are occurring, in addition to knowing your abandonment rate. Once you develop your campaign abandonment profile report, you will understand exactly where your primary abandonment occurs. With this additional insight you know where to focus your efforts for the most impact.

In Conclusion

Next steps:

1. Map your abandonment to determine your callers’ tolerance for waiting on hold
2. Establish an integrated scorecard that tracks abandonment by 1 second intervals
3. Review call center performance to employ the right strategies

Eliminate the common mistake of measuring abandonment numbers without taking the deeper dive into agent performance. Integrate both elements into a comprehensive winning strategy. While these extra measures will take additional work, the ROI will justify your efforts.


David Schreck, CEO of Intelemedia Communications

David is President and CEO of Intelemedia. Intelemedia offers a new breed of call center services by combining industry-leading technology with a platform uniting top performing agents from multiple call center companies. Since 1993, Intelemedia has developed elegant telephony and database solutions for the call center industry that transform how organizations more effectively manage call handling and caller experience within their customer service and sales acquisition environments. His wealth of experience integrating technology, sound business processes, and strategic sourcing is the driving force to the success of Intelemedia’s call center applications. David’s approach to “client-centric” teams focused on understanding and meeting customer needs has created a track record of developing high demand products. Prior to joining Intelemedia in 2001, David spent 16 years with Moore Corporation where he established Moore’s industry-leading national strategic print management outsourcing unit. In addition, he led the company’s initial thrust into e-business, successfully introducing electronic forms as a high growth and viable business within the printed form industry.

Call us now at 1-800-300-2150 to learn more about how our technology can help you achieve customer service goals.

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