If we take a look at typical abandon rates for a call centre in trouble, they are likely to be double-digit as a percentage of the total offered. An abandon rate of, say, 20% means that 1 in 5 customers calling the call centre abandon their call before it is handled by an agent. Do those customers just “go away” or do they return at a later date? How many of the 80% of calls that are handled were part of another day’s 20% abandons? Or even today’s abandons? The answer will change for different call types. If their product isn’t working in some way, they’ll probably keep trying to get through; if the enquiry was a potential sale, they might take their custom elsewhere. In most cases, most of the abandons will actually return. That means two calls offered instead of one, even though only one gets answered. So apparent call volume offered is inflated by the poor service level. We use the term “spin” to describe this artificial increase in calls offered due to poor service levels.
Spin, however, isn’t only from an increase in calls abandoned; there can be an “internal spin” caused by your organisation’s own internal friction under the duress of customers queuing. If your organisation has a number of internal call centres that are able to transfer calls between each other, individual agents under pressure might choose to transfer a call somewhere else simply to have a break between calls (using the time spent queuing for the other department), or even if he or she is coming to the end of a shift. If that call is dumped into the wrong department then the agent receiving the call is highly likely to transfer the call back into the originating department. Again, poor call centre performance put the agents under pressure, causing them to make wrong decisions; this is terrible for customers, and inflates the apparent call volume. This internal spin can be very hard to pinpoint and measure, but it will normally reduce in an environment where service levels come back under control.