Lost calls refer to a call a customer makes that fails to reach an advisor at the other end. There are different types of these that occur for a plethora of reasons. But ultimately, they are all logged as lost calls. 

The rate of these should, ideally, lay between 5 and 8 percent per company. Generally, contact centres aim to ensure that 95-98% of customers get through to an advisor. However, this isn’t always the case. Businesses miss about 22% of calls they receive. SMEs and mid-sized businesses have a lost call rate of 62%. 

What is the importance of lost calls, and why should they be monitored? 

Lost calls can generally be detected, recorded, and tracked within automatic call distribution (ACD). These systems automatically receive incoming calls and distribute them to an available agent. ACD is useful as it pulls up and tracks the occurrence of lost calls for a company to monitor them. 

Lost calls negative customer experience

Monitoring lost calls is business critical in terms of the data and insights they offer. By assessing using this system, you can spot trends in these calls. Such as – which days/times are busiest and prepare your organisation for this to decrease lost calls or longer waiting times. Furthermore, you can monitor which factors result in lost calls to try to avoid these areas of downfall. 

Paying attention to lost calls and doing all you can to avoid them is essential. Where you can assess what is missing, why you are losing it, and growing from that is vital for business growth. Overall, most importantly, this will result in a greater customer experience (CX) and customer retention rate. 

Losing a customer call, for any reason, is very significant data to your company. These are some of the effects a lost call can have, amongst many: 

  • Gives a negative first impression of your company to a customer  
  • Affects their experience 
  • Could impact on your reputation – especially if public feedback is given and this is remarked 
  • Wholly, any combination of these factors or more could disturb your business growth 

Additionally, where calls are also an essential part of business in particular industries, losing a call through any means can be detrimental. In the case of a sales team, for instance, a lost call means a lost customer. For health or social care providers, customer calls are extremely significant and serious. Losing a call could literally be a life-or-death situation. 

Different types of lost calls 

There are three key categories of lost calls. While these all occur for different reasons, they are all still logged in an ACD system as a lost call, so must be considered and tackled accordingly. The same significance and effects still apply here as previously mentioned. They all emphasise different issues within the company as to why these calls are lost. Again, they offer further insights and trends to develop from these issues. 

The different types include: 

  • Abandoned calls. Considered as every call that is terminated by the customer; usually from when they complete the IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Even up to the point where a call agent or advisor picks up, if a customer hangs up at any point here, it is regarded as an abandoned call. These can highlight issues with IVR, the speed at which an advisor does pick up, and even the way a customer answers IVR, if they are unsatisfied. This is either with their own answers, or the systems failure to recognise the answers heard. 
  • Missed calls. Those that are deliberately disconnected by the contact centre. This can happen when the call reaches the maximum wait time set by the ACD system. These systems are then flagged up as an area of improvement. 
  • Dropped calls. Caused by technical errors – this can be impacted by network connectivity issues. Dropped calls are more prevalent within remote contact centre environments with poor advisor WiFi and service. This can signify areas that are unsuccessful for calls, so companies can avoid them. 

Preventing all types of lost calls 

Every abandoned, missed or dropped call is a lost opportunity to generate revenue and increase customer satisfaction. As aforementioned, monitoring lost calls generates data and trends for the organisation to grow from. Amongst internally considered measures, here are some of the top tips to prevent losing a valuable customer call. 

Assessing and further training your agents 

Firstly, ensure every member of the teams understands how every metric of calls is measured. If every employee understands each category of lost calls, they can then do all they can to avoid them, as they know what causes it and plays into it. 

Furthermore, employing more call agents could be beneficial in reducing the number of calls that are lost. Most importantly, this results in lesser waiting and queue times. Therefore, customers will feel less frustrated and impatient in waiting for customer service.  

Upskilling and/or re-skilling your agents on their customer service is also an important measure to enact. When abandoned call rates are high throughout the day, this could indicate a problem within staffing calculations or advisor behaviours. When that all-important good service is missing or lacking, why would a customer continue to stay on the call? 

Work on your queueing system  

We’ve all been there when trying to get through to our GP for an appointment. Hearing that dreaded, “Sorry to keep you waiting, the line is busy. Please stay on the line and an advisor will get to you soon. You are in queue position 37.” Some organisation calls may even automate approximate wait times in accordance with a certain queue position.  

Lost calls long queuing times

While this information is useful in knowing where you stand, it’s frustrating. Especially when it is paired with short loops of repetitive, irritating music. Low quality recordings and messages that repeat too often are factors known to drive customers away. The frustration caused by this can lead to customers simply giving up to later try again another day or abandon it altogether. A way to combat this could be virtual queuing.  

This will allow for customers to hold their place without needing to stay on the line. When the ACD system reaches their queue point, they will receive an outbound call. The good point of this is that it will alleviate customer’s frustrations. With this method, you are more likely to retain those customers who previously would have given up with the queuing system. Calling a customer back is a great way to prove your dedication to helping them

Call-backs with caller ID is a great alternative but is not totally without faults. This relies upon good service and WiFi connections, as well as a trustworthy ACD system to hold the queue order. Also, this method creates an additional queue to the original one. However, this can be aided by the previous tip regarding your agents.  

Alternatively, is this doesn’t work for your organisation, you can streamline the IVR. If you simplify this process, customers will likely have more patience when they enter the queue. Meaning they will not be as likely to abandon the call as frustration is reduced. 

Reconsider your opening hours  

This is another solution that can come from analysing your trends and data from the ACD system. If you notice that abandon rates peak in the middle of the day, it may benefit you to rethink lunch breaks and consider new shift patterns. Part-time shifts and alternative working times and patterns will ensure that those busy periods are well staffed. This will then avoid the higher risk of lost calls.  

Analysing your data – call abandon curves  

To conclude these tips comes an all-encompassing one that sits at the core of them all. Analyse the data and develop from it. Learn from what your data tells you.  

You can assess important questions, such as – why are the customers hanging up so often this week? Then improve from there. You can plan reschedule lunch breaks, reschedule meetings and coaching sessions to ensure you’re covered. Ask for feedback – you can use online research platforms to gauge what your customers require from you.  

A useful visual method is to plot graphs. For instance, plot abandon rates against time in queue. Curves will be created, and the results will enable the organisation to set service levels against customer patience. This is beneficial as the contact centre can set an ‘abandon ceiling’.  The terms of this will determine a maximum percentage of lost calls deemed acceptable. Then you can grow and learn from there to keep that percentage down. 

Final thoughts 

Unfortunately, lost calls are inevitable. For whatever reason, on either the customer or contact centre’s end – they are unavoidable. However, with the right tools and mindset across the organisation, they can be minimised.  

Work with your employees – they are a key asset to improve lost call rates. They are the backbone of your business. Ensure their capabilities are up to scratch, too.  

Take lost calls as feedback. Use their insights to progress. This is overall beneficial to CX, customer and employee retention, and new business targets. Lost calls may appear as a negative business feature, but can really be beneficial to learn and grow. 

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