Contact sales

Lost and missed calls: all you need to know to improve your CX

Missing a customer call is bad – we can all agree with that. Seems inevitable, but more often than not, it’s actually very easy to make sure your customers are able to reach you whenever and however they prefer. You just need the right tools. 

But before we get into that, we need to understand the difference between a lost call, a missed call, an abandoned call and a dropped call. Let’s dive right in… 

Lost calls

In short, any call that terminates before the interaction between the customer and the agent is completed – whether that’s because the customer hangs up the phone before reaching an agent or because the call was terminated due to a technical error – can be considered lost calls.  

Not all lost calls are equal 

As we’ve seen, ‘lost call’ is just an umbrella term for all sorts of calls that don’t go as expected, voluntarily or involuntarily. It’s important to understand that not all lost calls are equal – depending on the type of call, your business can adopt different strategies and tools to reduce the number of lost calls.  

Missed calls

Missed calls are calls that get disconnected by your business because of poor agent availability and long queues. Essentially a missed call occurs anytime that a customer waits on hold to reach an agent and the phone rings until the call is automatically dropped by your system. 

Abandoned calls

On the other, abandoned calls are a little trickier to deal with. An abandoned call occurs when the customer hangs up before reaching an agent. This can be due to a change of heart, but most of the time, the reason lies with long waiting times and frustration. 

A third of customers are most frustrated by having to wait on hold for too long. What should you be aiming for, you ask? Well, the industry-standard follows an 80/20 ratio, meaning that 80% of calls are answered in 20 seconds. That’s not very long at all, if you ask us – but it’s what your customers have come to expect and demand.  

You should try to bring your abandoned calls rate to a minimum, with a 10% abandon rate considered to be high across most industries. 

Dropped calls

Finally, dropped calls are the most uncommon of the bunch – a good thing as they’re very difficult to avoid.  

The term dropped calls refers to any call that is disconnected due to a technical issue. There isn’t much you can do about lost calls, as they’re often due to a technical error on the customer’s part rather than your contact centre.  

For example, calls from mobile phones often fall into this category due to poor signal or a busy network. Some dropped calls can also be due to a miscalculation in predictive dialling. 

If your dropped call rate is very high, there might be a fault in your system and you should investigate further.  

What are the main reasons behind lost calls? 

Now that we’ve identified the different types of lost calls, it’s important to also understand why these happen. 

We’ve mentioned that dropped calls are due to technical errors, so we won’t get into those further, but what about missed calls and abandoned calls? 

Missed calls and abandoned calls are mainly due to poor queue and call management, which is why a high lost call rate in these two instances should be unacceptable. After all, every lost call is a lost opportunity for your business.  

Take for example a sales team – every time they lose a call, they could be losing out on a new customer. 

When your technical support team doesn’t pick up a call from that customer, they’ll be looking for help elsewhere… maybe your competitors? 

Things get even more serious if you’re a health or social service professional. Lost calls are a serious business to those in need and as a provider, you should do everything in your power to minimise them. 

The good news is that missed and abandoned calls can be avoided quite easily with the right strategy and tools. 

How can you minimise lost calls from customers? 

Or in other words, how do you manage your inbound calls and reduce waiting times? Several tools can help you reduce the number of lost calls, including callbacks, call slot and queue announcements – we’ve broken them down in our blog: 4 contact centre features to cut down customer lost calls. 

These tools give your customers more information about their waiting time, or the power to schedule or receive a call as soon as your agents are free. 

For more urgent queries, some of these tools might not be ideal. Sometimes your customers won’t be able to wait on hold or reschedule a call; sometimes their issue is too pressing. So, what can you do to make sure they can get through to an agent as soon as possible? 

Intelligent routing and VIP queues are a great way to ensure that the customer that needs it most gets the help they need when they need it and from the most appropriate person.  

Offering multiple communications channels besides phone calls is also a great way to reduce that queue length and ensure that your lines are free for those more urgent queries.  

Email, webchat or social media can be better suited to simpler questions that don’t require lengthy explanations. You could even add a message in your IVR letting your customers know of alternative contact methods. 

A knowledge hub is another great way to empower your customers and reduce the number of inbound calls. As a matter of fact, 92% of customers try to resolve an issue before contacting customer service, with 68% of those browsing the company’s website to do so.  


While it’s impossible to eliminate lost calls from your contact centre, there are plenty of tools available to reduce that number to a minimum.  

Whether it’s by offering more communications channels, or simply adding some queue announcements while your customers are on hold, every little step will help deliver a better service and to ensure your customers get the help they need, when they need it. 

If you’re not sure where to start, head to our cloud-based contact centre page and discover how our solutions can help you improve your customer experience today.