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Best Practice

Controlling Abandonment

When analysing the performance of our IVRs we must remember to distinguish between the 2 very different types of abandonment: positive and negative.

Positive Abandonment is when we successfully direct callers away from our agents by encouraging them to move to another channel (or by answering their question with a recorded message). If our message is successful callers will put the phone down. This is positive abandonment as it was our intention to reduce agent workload.

Negative Abandonment is when callers disconnect, or are forced to disconnect when we don’t want them to. This usually leaves the call unresolved and can be due to anything from long hold times, a confusing IVR, poor menu phrasing or technical failure.

At Adexchange, we reduce operational cost and transform the customer journey by making each interaction more effective and efficient. Typically we’re asked to increase positive abandonment and reduce negative abandonment. It’s worth noting both of these are measurable, so a clear ROI can be shown.

Avoiding Negative Abandonment

Avoiding Negative Abandonment

Negative abandonment can be particularly harmful; it has the potential to reduce sales, destroy brand reputation and damage customer satisfaction. And so at Adexchange we’ve refined a process that allows us to target the key elements creating negative abandonment. These include:

  • Poor IVR design
  • Weak phrasing (see our blog on The Power of Words for useful language tips)
  • Agent miscommunication
  • Journey time

Each of these elements, can be tackled (either individually or in combination) to reduce the problem and so improve: sales, brand reputation, customer retention, resolution rates and customer satisfaction.

Moving Towards Higher Positive Abandonment

Increasing positive abandonment simultaneously improves a wide range of performance measures from transfer rates to average handling times. Again, there are a set of principles to guide us:

  1. Make sure our IVR clearly aligns with our business objectives.
  2. Use as few options per menu as possible (see The 5 Influencing Factors for more)
  3. Use influential and concise language (see The Power of Words for more)
  4. Avoid an immediate option to transfer to an agent
  5. Simplify the caller’s journey
  6. Reduce journey time

Controlling abandonment 2

When we apply (and balance) these key principles, we’ve gone a long way to creating a highly successful IVR; an IVR that meets best practice. Not only will it help direct callers to the right place quickly and effectively, but in turn we’ll avoid negative abandonment and caller frustration. This, coupled with the increased chance of a first time resolution, is proven to contribute towards a better customer experience.

Adexchange Top Tips

The purpose of any IVR system is to reduce operational cost and so increase efficiency. Our abandonment rates (both positive and negative) are indicators of success. Improve both and we’re moving towards a best practice IVR:

Our top tips:

      • Avoid negative abandonment by avoiding poor phrasing
      • Know your client base and their terminology
      • Make use of the 80/20 rule
      • Simplify and reduce the customer journey

If it’s time to analyse the success of your IVR do get in touch. As part of our initial consultation, we offer a Snapshot Review of your existing system – identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunity.

Contact us to discuss what you need.

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About the Author
Nick Herbert
Author: Nick Herbert
Managing Director

Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.

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Adexchange Media Limited
Company number: 04344957

The Old Garage, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7NP