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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-18-2005, 12:41 PM
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Service Level and Abandonment rate

Hi,
What would be the relationship between Service Level and Abandonmentrate. My call center would always be concerned about Service Level but now all they care about is Abandonment ratea and keeping it less than 10%.
Why this change?
Any help in this will be highly appreciated.
Thanks.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2005, 12:33 AM
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Better Service Level = Lower Abandon Rate

Go to westbay and download their free erlang calculator, then you can see the connection between service level and abandon rate.

Simply put the higher your service level (regardless of industry or vertical) the lower your abandon rate!

Centers often use one, the other or both to assess the service they are providing to customers. Service Level or more specifically the 'Grade of Service' indicates the percentage of calls that you tartget to answer in a pre-determined amount of time (Average Speed of Answer or ASA). This is generally expressed as X% of call in Y seconds, for example 80% of calls within 20 seconds is a Service Level. Some organization take this a step further indicating an acceptable or targeted level of abandoned calls, say 3%. {now in the preceding scenario if the call length is 3 minutes erlang will tell you that if you meet the service level you will only abandon 2.5% of the calls}. The Service Level can be further enhanced to include 'Blocked' calls which really related to the number of available circuits or talk paths available from the telco{some manager do choke access (talk paths) to attain Service Levels}.

If you want to understand this better, get anerlang calculator and play around with it, you will soon discover why 90 years after its invention it is still the best tool for configuring call center load/demand and scheduling management and why it is use to determine the optimal number toilets required for new stadiums ( stadia?).

I hope that I have added value to this discussion, if I can be of further assistance please email me at ctaylor@thetaylorreachgroup.com or check out our website at www.thetaylorreachgroup.com where we have a number of useful articles and a free monthly newsletter on call center issues.

Colin
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01-20-2005, 03:54 AM
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Service Level vs. Abandonment rate

Service level, or the amount of calls you answer within a given factor of time (95% of calls answered within 180 seconds), is in my opinion the only way to calculate anything you need in any call center.

More and more, I notice that contact centers are using the Abandonment rate (ACR=Abandonded Call Ratio), and I must say that I find this a very bad move.
There are several reasons for this opinion:

1. ACR is not based on the main goal of a contact center; customer satisfaction

Service level is based on positive customer experience and should be related to "the time that a customer is willing to wait without getting dissatified. If you manage this correctly, in the long run, your service will be more profitable for the whole organisation.

2. ACR is a vicious circle

Customers that had to wait long, will (as said befor) get dissatisfied. They will voice this feeling to the CSR who answers the call resulting in 2 negative factors: 1. Longer Talk Time (complaints for the waitingtime use up more time) and 2. demotivated agents.
In the long run, you will need more agents to reach the set ACR (10% in your case), making this a very unprofitable move.

3. ACR is a fake

One should think, that it is easier to calculate staffing needs based on ACR instead of SL. However, with the fluctuating KPI's (see 2), this is not true. Plus, with the easy and cheap Erlang calculators available (f.i. easyerlang) it doesn't take you any more time to take a REAL SL in account.

My $ 0,05 off course.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 01-20-2005, 09:32 AM
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Exactly

Niek,

I could not have said it any better. You correctly identified the risks and inherent negative focus emplying Abandons as the primary call center management measure. Well done.

Colin
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 01-20-2005, 01:40 PM
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ABN rate for legal reasons???

Thank you guys for your valuable inputs.

I just found out that we manage our call center using Abadonment rate and not Service Level because of legal reasons as in USA if the ABN rate is over 18% and a customer abandons the call (hangs up), he can legally sue the company. It is calculated using:
Calls Offered - Calls Answered / Calls Offered *100

Any comments?
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 01-21-2005, 09:47 AM
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The formula you use is actually for service level, although I suspect that “Calls Answered” is defined as “Calls Answered with Threshold”, threshold being the time expressed in your service level target. If not, that it should.

This approach attempts to combine service level target as defined in Colin’s response, and abandoned calls. Interestingly enough, there is more than one way to do that, depending on the relative importance the organization attributes to abandoned calls. See http://www.diagnosticstrategies.com/service_level.htm and http://www.diagnosticstrategies.com/abandonment.htm for additional details.

Joe
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 01-21-2005, 12:43 PM
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How does a abandoned caller know that your ABN rate is over 18%. And how do you know the caller didn't hang up because somebody called him on his mobile f.e. instead of hanging up because the waiting was to long
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 01-21-2005, 06:53 PM
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It is just a possibility

Replying to your question:
It is just a possibility. I do not know the exact details but what might happen is IF that caller hangs up and then sues the company because he was not able to talk to a CS agent to, say, cancel his account/service and it is found by the investigating agency that at that time the ABN rate was >18%, it can cost the company and can become a bigger problem for the company. As well as I have seen that Americans sue on very minor issues as well , for example an "unauthorised" charge of say $10, which according to them is "unauthorised". Some even go to the Attorney General or BBB for very minor issues. So I guess, it makes sense, don't you?
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 01-22-2005, 08:27 PM
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@ Martijn,

One can never be 100% sure why someone hangs up, but reporting tools in quality ACD's (f.i. Aspect) let's you analyse the exact waiting time befor someone hangs up.
Normally one agrees on not counting the abandoned calls under a certain amount of time (10 sec.), and explains these with: wrong number dialed etc.
Above that, one can assume, that the customer was not satisfied with waiting, and hung up because of the provider not being able to fulfil the expectations of the caller.

Except from that, 18% is a relative high figure, that one should be able to avoid. If 18% of your calls are abandoned, then you are grosly underperforming, and personally I don't care too much if call centres that can't even handle 82% of incoming calls are sued.

Laws in the US are a bit more strict than in NL, which explains why the level of service in the US is considered higher than at most places in Europe; especially NL, which is normally very low in the European benchmarks.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 01-24-2005, 07:27 AM
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Our ABN rate is about 2-3%. We have an ASA between 10 and 50 seconds depending on the department you call.

I know that 18% is really bad and you should be able to stay under this.

I was just wondering what the proces was with sueing a call center without having any figures.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 01-25-2005, 10:24 AM
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Is there any co-relation between ASA and Abandonment Rate?
Any formula?
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 01-25-2005, 10:55 AM
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The rule of thumb is that abandonment rate increases as ASA increases. This direct relation is not linear, i.e. decreasing ASA by 10% will not yield a 1% reduction in abandonment. The curve is shaped like a hockey stick, with a sudden increase in abandonment at a certain ASA.

There can be no formula for that behavior because, as described in http://www.diagnosticstrategies.com/abandonment.htm, there are multiple factors that influence abandonment, many of which are related to human behavior and cannot be simply expressed in a single formula. Each call center must analyze the abandonment behavior of its audience and what drives it and not rely on arbitrary “standards” or formulae.
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  #13 (permalink)  
Old 01-25-2005, 01:00 PM
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abandonment rate

Yooo,

I see that you are not getting much practical help with some of your questions.

I don't know what ACD system you are using, but most of the major ones will have a report that will show you the percent of customers abandoning at certain ASAs. Joe is correct in saying that at a certain ASA, you will see a sharp increase in customers dropping off. At that ASA (or somewhere close to it), you should try to set your target ASA for your call center a couple of levels below it.

Thanks
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 01-25-2005, 06:37 PM
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I agree with thetuan concerning setting ASA below that curve in that threshold point.

Another trick is to decrease the perceived wait time by casing the ACD to issue additional 1-2 rings after actually moving the caller to the queue, thereby buying you additional few seconds which sometimes does wonders. This feature is available in some ACDs.

As a practical matter I recommend using a WFM tool to forecast service level, ASA and abandonment and use the ACD report thetuan describes to test changes in staffing and service level target and determine ASA and abandonment before trying them on your customers... Tools like http://www.diagnosticstrategies.com/easyerlang.htm let you define the time in which most callers abandon and graph abandonment relative to the number of agents.
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  #15 (permalink)  
Old 01-26-2005, 10:59 AM
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abandonment rate

You gave out some great tips Joe

Awesome advise!!
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