I don't have a white paper or a case study for you, however, I'll offer some experience. I have seen recorded announcements have an effect if you want to INCREASE the abandon rate. In other words, if you're getting a lot of a particular call type that can be answered by putting the answer in the recorded announcement, you can increase your abandon rate AND satisfy those customers, leaving you capacity for the customers whose call is not resolved by the announcement.
If you do end up finding any studies or papers on this, I'd recommend ensuring that they're fairly recent within the last year or so. The reason: the public has become very jaded to all the tricks call centers use. Certain verbiage such as "your call is important to us" won't change their determination or lack of determination to talking with you.
Some call centers have had success with technology that speaks the average wait time to holding callers. That might have an impact on the caller's propensity to abandon, but the sword would cut both ways using this technology - because if the wait time spoken to the caller is "30 seconds" the propensity to abandon will likely decrease, however if the wait time spoken is 15 minutes, you'll probably substantially increase abandons. Someone might have a white paper on what that inflection point is - in other words how many spoken minutes will cause most callers to patiently wait and how many minutes quoted will cause them to abandon. Again, I'd be careful with this research if it exists - because your callers' behavior could be different from the norm based on the industry you're in.
One more technique that has some effect if done well is having the recorded announcement offer the caller the option to leave a voice mail with a specified timeframe within which the call will be returned. I've seen this work best if the voice mail's callback is done within 2-4 hours. If you don't offer any turnaround time for a call back or say it will be more than 4 hours (the temptation is to say within 24 hours), you won't change behavior that much - people will keep calling and abandoning if they have to wait longer than they want - hoping to catch your center during a non-busy time. Also you'd want to ensure that your call center reporting reflects voice mail leavers as delivered calls versus abandoned calls. Then you also, of course, need to make sure you have capacity to return these calls - hopefully with people other than your phone agents unless you can confidently predict a lull in their demand. As I'm sure you know - if you break your turnaround time commitment - you'll light up wait times and AHT in a big way.
Last thought - this one is digging into the weeds some, but your technology people might be able to help you to capture phone numbers of abandoning callers and you may want to call a sampling of them. I've had the experience that another company obtained a toll-free number and then through a misprint told their customers to call MY number. So obviously, the abandons were the correct response to getting the wrong number. Also looking at callers phone numbers and contacting a few may also review geographic or other patterns you're not picking up through other means.
Best of luck! Reducing abandons is a challenging task if you can't increase capacity or re-direct certain call types.
We are a healthcare organization and as such have very small silos with only 2-10 agents in any clinic. Although our wait times are very small, ASA is around 40 seconds, there are clinics that are longer and would like to reduce the 10% abandonment rate.
About 60% of our abandons happen right before or after callers hear our second announcement (90 seconds) so we're considering taking the announcement our completely to see what effect that would have.
Thanks for the context. You've probably already looked at putting all of the agents into one call center and perhaps there are good business reasons that's not feasible. Even if you can't do it physically, you could do it virtually with the right technology where all agents support all clinics regardless of which clinic they sit in. You can also route the caller to their "home clinic's" agents if they're available, otherwise they go to the next available agent, somewhere else.
One other option, that could be quicker to implement than the one above would be to either automatically or manually re-direct calls from a high wait time clinic's queue into a lower wait time queue.
In my experience, your callers appear to have a rather low threshold of waiting before they abandon - so it would worth understanding why that's the case. A 40 second ASA should be yielding a 5-7% abandon rate, but because your agent groups are fairly small, perhaps the 10% reflects a much wider deviation in wait times across the various clinics.
We have discussed having a consolidated team that takes appointment calls. Our biggest problem is with the work processes in the individual clinics and un-reliable service providers (doctors) schedules. We are hopeful that a team to define the common practices and getting commitment from the doctors will allow some cross training and the ability to roll calls to other silos.
Are you trying to decrease the call abandon rate of automated calls that go out to customers with the objective of getting those clients to a live agent? There are a wide number of variables that can influence abandonment rate:
- Length of time between call attempts.
- Total number of call attempts
- Message structure designed to give the customer control over the situation and provide them with flexibility to call back.
- Tonality of voice talent. Also based on applications, sometimes a male voice is most effective and other times a female.
- Length of message and well thought out IVR options.
I am sorry to be so vague but the company I represent, MessageBroadcast manages millions of calls per day for individual clients including the largest US Telephone company and several of the largest banks. One customer was able to improve customer satisfaction and reduce CRM related cost by $49M/yr.
I would be happy to speak with you by phone or email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Quite respectfully, I would not boast about a 7% abandonment rate. That is a lot of business you are loosing. Abandonment rates of 2% and less are generally considered as good, and the lower the better. In resolve to your problem, it would become interesting to study the exact reasons why people call your center and why they abandon calls. By this is meant what are the needs of your customers as opposed to those services you advertise in the messages. In many cases, when people hear a message that implies "you are calling the wrong place" or "the solution to your problem - not found here" they will abandon the call at that phase. Other and more obvious reasons are answer delays, i.e. long queue times, and multi-layered and complex IVR structures to navigate. These are all customer turn-offs.
I would also suggest benchmarking your center against peer companies. Understand the performance of others that have similar sized centers of the same or like industry. Listen to their messages and try to identify similarities. You can correlate benchmark data to those to further identify true problems. In addition to this, I strongly suggest trying to identify "satisfyers" and "dissatisfyers" via customer feedback. Capture ANI information whenever possible and attempt to identify people that abandoned. Develop a small outbound call campaign to better understand their reasons for disconnecting the call before being serviced. You may become surprised to the level of detailed information gained about your customers, their expectations of the service you provide, and the answer to your question.
Unless you are overstaffed, there will always be times when your agents are busy. Your callers will always abandon if there's a long wait involved, regardless of your messages or music, typically within the first 45 seconds of the call (Source: Avaya). The answer is, you can't stop them.
Instead, think outside the box. Make abandonment a virtue for your callers. Make it easy to get through without waiting on hold, even if you can't answer them straight away. Embrace and optimise. Change the game...
To keep your callers happy, first of all allow them to make an informed choice at the start of the call by giving an estimated wait. People don't appreciate being on kept on hold when they've had no choice in the matter at the start of the call.
This will help reduce complaints, but to really reach more of your callers, tell them their place has been saved, so if they choose to hang up and call back they'll go straight to the front of the queue on their next call.
That way when they hang up and call back, it's not abandonment, it's a positive choice. They'll appreciate that even though it's peak time, their time is not being wasted. Just imagine what it would be like to never have a complaint about queueing again.
If you do these two things, then you turn the competitive environment of the standard on hold queue, where callers must out-wait each other to get through, into a co-operative environment, where those who choose to hang up and call back actually help those who choose to stay on hold get through more easily. You'll find that even though you are encouraging some callers to hang up, your answer rate actually increases.
Just implement these two simple steps and you can expect your unanswered call rate to fall by around 70%, and average waits fall to less than half their former value, based on deployments of EliteIQ, a call queue system that embodies this approach. Try it on 0845 004 5412.