Ask the Workforce Wizard


I am looking for some information regarding the difference between using Service Level or abandon rate goals and how it relates to customer and/or employee retention. We currently use abandon rate goals, and we are trying to get “buy in” to switch to Service Level goals.  Right now, our Abandon rate goals do not correlate to our Service Level goals, and we need some sort of “momentum” builder to get “buy in.”  My Manager and I strongly feel service levels are the proper metrics, however abandon rates have been ingrained in our culture.


We generally do not encourage the use of an abandonment rate as the sole speed of answer goal.  First of all, it is not mathematically predictable since it is a function of individual human decisions about how long to wait. Second, abandons may be a function of waiting too long, but many are due to other causes such as dialed the wrong number, forgot to get my account information ready, my other phone rang, someone dropped by my office and we decided to go to lunch and do this later, etc.  Using a predictive wait announcement can greatly influence caller abandon behavior as well.
While abandonment is a useful statistic to track, especially the point in the wait where the up-slope of abandons typically occurs, in and of itself it is not a good tool for planning purposes.  If you see that you have very few abandons before 30 seconds, but then there is a growing percentage of abandons, then you might want to set your speed of answer goal to answer most of your calls before that 30 second time.  But on any given day, the 30 second delay and a specific abandonment may not correlate in the actual caller behaviors.

Almost all call centers select either service level (X% in Y seconds) or average speed of answer (ASA) for the primary goal (and it is important to pick one and not use both as they too will diverge mathematically as volumes and handle times vary).  Either of these is mathematically predictable and should make the planning function far more accurate and service to customers more consistent.  It doesn’t surprise me that your abandon percentage does not track with your service level as it rarely does.  In fact, it is not uncommon to see customers become more tolerant of the wait when it is typically longer than when it is generally short.  It is experiencing something out of the norm that influences the callers in some cases.  For example, some well known technical support help desks have 30-45 minute waits and few abandons.  Customers know that is what they should expect and they don’t call in unless they are prepared to wait.  Sure, a few disconnect immediately as they get the expected wait announcement, but those who don’t hang in there until answered.