Decide with Data: Abandonment Rate & Situational Metric (Part 2)

Part 2: Decide with Data

Abandonment Rate & Situational Metrics

By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center and Advanced Applications and Peter Hornberger, Director of Channel Success of BrightMetrics


In part 2 of Decide with Data we’ll be looking at abandonment rate. It’s one of the simplest metrics that almost every contact center, call center, pays attention to. It simply looks at, of my total call volume, what percentage of my callers are hanging up the phone when they dial in?

“Is my staffing level set appropriately? Can I serve all my customers? Am I frustrating my customers?

We defined a goal range of four to eight percent. If you’re under four percent, it’s usually an indication of overstaffing. If you’re over eight percent, it’s an indication that you may be negatively impacting your customer’s satisfaction.

“We were at 15 percent for the last quarter. If we add one more person to the staff and we change the messaging a little bit, we should be able to affect change and get this down into that four to eight percent range.”

From a strategic standpoint, it’s really easy to understand how this metric might be impacted. From a tactical standpoint, someone’s not going to worry about this so much.

What they’re going to be doing is paying attention to an indicator, some kind of a chart that shows them how many abandoned calls they’ve had today, and what’s happening. They’re going to be reacting, borrowing agents, and pulling people in as needed.

A strategic person who approaches this metric is always looking back in time, seeing how they did previously and trying to impact change going forward.

But what they’re missing out on is that tactical, anecdotal knowledge of what’s happening day to  day. What happened today?

It’s about Customer Satisfaction

It’s not just about the average at the end of a 90 day period. It’s about the fact that throughout any point in the day customers are being served, and are satisfied with their interactions.

Similarly, if someone comes at this only from the tactical side, then every single day the call center manager or supervisor is reacting to what’s happening.

It’s Tuesday. All of the sudden, Tuesday at 3:00 PM, there are 25 calls sitting in queue. Every single agent is engaged and busy, and people are starting to drop off. They’re starting to hang up the phone.

Here’s what they might miss if that’s all they ever pay attention to. They might miss out on the fact that Tuesday at 3:00 PM every single week is a problem for this call center. It’s something that every single week at 3:00 PM, all of the sudden call volume spikes. It’s a popular hour of the day.

If they’re not looking at historical trends and seeing that in the data and noticing, “We have a consistent spike at this time frame,” they may never react to that and deal with that appropriately.

If you think about it from that tactical standpoint, you’re constantly reacting to, what’s the biggest priority? What’s the biggest fire that I need to put out?

You need both of those metrics to appropriately look at and analyze, what can we do to make the most impact and difference going forward from the strategic standpoint?

When we are reacting, are we reacting to something that we could solve if we had some strategic data and we knew that this is a consistent problem?

Whenever I go in to a client and do a consulting gig where I’m actually analyzing their data, I’m interested in how they’re accomplishing or satisfying the problem or addressing the problem while it’s happening.

The one thing I see consistently is that, in certain industries and certain times of the year, when you have a holiday on a Monday, the day after usually is hugely busy or the day before, it’s busy. Charting that out pays huge dividends, so yeah, I 100 percent agree.

Which Metric would you use in the following scenarios?

We’ve established we need both a strategic analysis and a tactical analysis. But also, we need to know what data to use when. What kind of data would you use in this scenario?

If you’re working on budgetary planning, staffing, hardware, those kinds of things for a given year, let’s say 2018.

It’s December or November of last year. You’re working on your budget for this coming year.

What kind of data are you going to use? This is something that tactical data is going to give you almost zero insight to.

You’re going to use strategic data for that. You’re going to look back. “Hey, what were our resources over the last year? Was that enough? Was that too much? How do we appropriately plan for the coming year?”

Reactive Vs. Historical

Example 2: We have an inside sales agent, so a contact center, sometimes sales groups, that’s not hitting their numbers for the day.

In a sales group, the numbers are likely going to be something like outbound call volume or something like that. 10 no’s to get one yes, that kind of a thing.

What kind of data are you going to use in that scenario?

A lot of people approach a sales team or team performance from a historical and strategic standpoint. At the end of the month, at the end of a quarter, we want to be able to see, how does this agent do?

Then sit down with them and do their quarterly review. Walk them through, “Here’s how you did. Here’s what we would have liked you to have accomplished. Here’s our expectations for the next quarter.”

I would say you should start to look how you can flip that on its head, because while, yes, absolutely, you can motivate someone by showing them, “Here’s how you didn’t add up or meet up over the last quarter, and here’s what we’d like to see differently going forward,” that always has a very negative spin on it, and connotation.

It can be frustrating. What I would actually recommend in this scenario is use tactical data. You know the goals. You know the expectations. You know the numbers that your team needs to hit.

Here’s why.

Take that sales agent. If it’s noon and you look at the data and you see, “You know what, one person’s really dragging today. They need to make 50 calls today, and so far they’re at 10.”

It’s noon, and there’s four hours left in the day. They may not get to 50 by the end of the day, but you could sure get them a lot closer to 50 than if they continue to work the way they’ve been working all day.

That’s when, from a tactical standpoint, you see that. You react to it. You walk over to that agent and you say, “Hey, what’s going on? What’s happening here? We’re only at 10. We need you at 50. What are we going to do differently today?”

You could do this with any kind of performance metric that you have for your team, but you don’t want to wait until the end of the week, the month, the quarter to react to that, because by then the agent can’t impact change for that given period of time.

If, instead, you react in the moment, you still have time to make a change right now and today. Tactical analytics is a better way to approach this than the historical perspective.

You’re still going to use the historical perspective. You’re still going to do performance reviews and look at that, but you want to be reacting to these things much more instantaneously than waiting until the end of those given time periods.

In these examples you see why it’s important to employ both metrics. You want the immediate reaction through the tactical, and the strategic analytics through that trend analysis.

This is the second of a 3-part series of blog posts about Deciding with Data. In this series, we will talk about the analysis and situational applications of strategic and tactical data analysis. Be sure to check out Part 1: Decide with Data: Strategic & Tactical Analysis here.

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