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How to Apply Traditional Contact Center Metrics to Social Media

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Plenty of smart people talk about which metrics indicate success in social media customer service. They generally focus on Average Speed of Answer, Call Deflection, and the beloved First Call Resolution; or was that last one First Contact Resolution or maybe First Conversation Resolution? One traditional contact center metric that’s rarely addressed in social media is Call Abandonment.

In my presentation at ICMI’s Contact Center Expo & Conference this year, I defined traditional Call Abandonment (CA) using this graphic:

Call abandonment 

The formula:

Step One: Determine the number of customers who hung up before the business answered the call.

Step Two: Divide that number by the total number of calls.

This formula is simple to calculate and fairly valuable for measuring the success of an automated voice response system, or managing staffing levels to try to reduce CA. In a traditional contact center, if the customer hangs up before receiving their answer it’s a service failure you need to address. Either your team needs to become more efficient in their call handling times or you need to expand team so you can talk to additional customers and have fewer hang up without an answer to their questions.

But how does this apply to social media customer service? Can you still measure CA with precision or a purpose?

Yes. You can certainly measure abandonment in social media, but for the sake of accuracy, let’s refer to it as Conversation Abandonment. Our new version of CA is tougher to measure.

First, determine if an employee answered the customers’ question on the first response. If someone from your team did answer the question, the customer couldn’t abandon. Even if the customer didn’t respond with a “thank you” or another confirmation they received the response they needed, someone answered their question on the first reply.

          Client: @business What time do you open today?

          Business: @client We open at our regular time of 9am.

CA becomes complex when a customer asks a question via social media that requires follow up from your team, but the customer doesn’t respond to the follow up. For example:

          Client: @business Do you stock smoke shifters?
          Business @client are you looking for left-handed or right-handed smoke shifters?

In this type of conversation, no one actually answered the question, because the business must gather additional details to help determine a specific answer (we won’t talk about the quality of the business response that might help prevent the perceived abandonment). The customer asked a question, but appears to have abandoned the conversation since they didn’t respond to the business’ follow up question.

You may be thinking “what about the synchronicity of social media channels?”  I’m glad you asked! We must add another variable to the CA measurement process: how long does a business give the customer to respond before measuring CA? Only your business leadership team can give that answer. I typically suggest at least 24 hours.

Measuring CA in social media involves a few extra steps not required for traditional channels.

Contact Abandonment, social media customer service 

The Formula:

Step One: Determine if someone answered the question. (Straightforward)

Step Two: If no one gave an answer, was it because they needed extra information—and asked for it? (Again, not complicated.)

Step Three: Did the customer ask for additional information? If so, how long should you wait for a response before marking the conversation abandoned? (Once you choose a time, stick with it, nothing makes statistics trickier than moving targets.)

Step Four: Divide the number of unanswered information requests (outside of agreed window) by the number of total information requests.

Bringing it All Together

What’s the purpose of tracking Contact Abandonment in social?

Unlike in a traditional contact center, CA doesn’t affect volume forecasting or automated services (unless you’re outsourcing your social to a bot). Instead, it is a helpful way to understand your team’s quality of response, social response protocols, and intelligence gathering. At least until someone finds the unicorn CRM tool that matches social media IDs with internal customer IDs and IP addresses for FAQ accesses. CA is a long established tool in the contact center so if you apply the information from this post you might find an easier way to acquire support for a fledgling social media project or show even greater value by giving actionable data to senior leaders.