One of our clients had a problem: a staggering call abandonment rate of 50%. The fix was surprisingly simple.

In terms of service-level agreement, a 50% call abandonment rate is, shall we say, literally a reason to start crying the moment you wake up in the morning. So when our client – which runs a call center in the finance sector – asked us to look into it, Tiaan Mouton, one of our support experts, dived in immediately.

The problem he uncovered? Our client’s IVR.

‘The IVR is maybe the single most important step in setting up an inbound contact center,’ Tiaan says. ‘It’s also one of the easiest steps to break.’

Just take what he spotted in the client’s IVR – it may be obvious to contact center veterans, but it’s an easy thing to overlook. (Hint: because we assume people will always make the most rational choice.)

 

Thing is, order is everything

It’s no secret that literally nobody has ever enjoyed calling up a contact center[1][2][3]. So you’ll find that when people reach an IVR, they tend to do one thing:

  1. They basically mash the entire phone keypad with the palm of their hand.

‘Customers don’t like IVRs,’ says technical account manager Lenard de Bruin. ‘They don’t like waiting to hear all the options. They just key in whatever comes first or second – even if that isn’t the option they actually need.’

In our client’s case, the most crucial option (a language option, as it happens) was placed third in the list. Most of their callers were button-mashing option two – and subsequently being passed to a department with very few agents.

 

The one-minute solution

‘So we moved option three – which was the option most people were looking for, and the one with the most agents – up to option one. And that, just that, made a huge difference to the call abandonment rate.’

How big a difference are we talking? Try a 40% difference – as in, the call abandonment rate dropped from 50% to 10%.

We’ll say it again: a straightforward switcharoo in the IVR options list made a 40% difference.

 

The takeaways

The most obvious piece of advice to take from this piece? Put your most important options upfront and watch your call abandonment rate plummet.

‘But’, says Lenard, ‘there’s a non-obvious takeaway here too: if you have a big difference in the number of agents serving your various departments, you want to front-load the departments that have the most agents backing them up. It doesn’t matter if they’re the wrong departments – what matters is that the calls get answered.’

Experiment with it, and consider cross-training your agents so they can deal with more than one kind of inquiry.

Tl;dr? Build your IVR around people. (And assume that people are lazy have better things to do.)

PS: Our solution has a call-flow builder that’s a total cinch to use. Check it out in our free trial – you won’t look back.