Call abandonment is a common and costly occurrence that has a detrimental impact on customer retention and lifetime value. Understanding patience behavior is critical to making informative staffing decisions and optimizing call center software settings in order to reduce caller abandonment.
A recent study analyzed customer patience at an Israeli call center. Below are 5 findings from their study and how you can apply them to your call center.
A customer’s patience depends on what they are waiting for.
For example, individuals calling regarding stock trading are more patient than customers seeking regular services.
Have more of your newer agents available to handle routine calls. As a result your most skilled agents won’t be bogged down with monotonous interactions and will be more available to help customers with more complex issues.
High priority customers are more patient than regular customers.
This may be because the reason for their call might be more important so they are willing to wait longer.
Don’t make your most valued customers wait, just because they will. New call center software will identify the value each customer has given the company and will prioritize calls based on customer value. Allow your agents to provide excellent service to your most valued customers.
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Customers are most likely to abandon a call after a few seconds or after 60 seconds.
One explanation for this finding is that the call center system plays a “please wait” message a few seconds after the caller calls and then again after 1 minute. This message may prompt the caller to abandon the queue.
Be sure to include an approximate wait time so that your caller’s expectations for waiting are realistic. You can also offer the option for them to leave a voicemail or receive a callback rather than wait in lengthy queues.
Experienced customers “adapt” their patience based on their previous experience with the call center’s wait time.
They will wait longer during times when the call center is more congested.
Don’t ask too much of your customers. Reduce their wait time during high volume periods by having more agents available, rescheduling breaks or training sessions and postponing after call work.
Novice customers’ call abandonment rates increase with wait time.
This is intuitive. The longer a new customer waits, the more likely they will hang up the phone.
Prioritize new calls. Call center software will identify a new caller. Ensure that their call is expedited so you don’t lose the chance to make a good first impression.
Understanding caller patience behavior is critical to ensuring that you never lose a prospect or customer due to a mismanaged call queue, staffing mistakes or lengthy wait times. Having a solid understanding of your customers’ patience behavior and effectively managing the call queue will result in excellent customer service and added lifetime value for your company.
Every call has revenue potential and each interaction is an opportunity to promote positive brand awareness. Following the aforementioned tips to decrease call abandonment will help you to not shoot yourself in the foot before you can get a foot in the door.
 Brown LD, Gans N, Mandelbaum A, et al. Statistical analysis of a telephone call center: a queueing science perspective. J Am Stat Assoc 2005;100:36–50