What Is Call Avoidance & How to Avoid It

Bhavya Aggarwal

Jayadeep Subhashis

April 1, 20248 min read

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Call avoidance is a common problem in call centers that you might have experienced yourself. You may recall instances where a customer service agent put you on hold while they looked through records or transferred you to a supervisor.    

Now, imagine your customers waiting in a similar manner until they're left with nothing but hold music, no return communication and growing frustration. If they hang up and call again, they must explain their complaint from the beginning. These instances test your customers' patience and adversely affect key call center KPIs

However, there's an opportunity to address this problem. In this blog, we'll explore what call avoidance is, how to identify it within your call center operations, its underlying reasons and, most importantly, strategies to overcome this pervasive issue. 

Table of Contents

What does call avoidance mean? 

Call avoidance refers to the deliberate evasion of handling incoming calls by agents, manifesting in actions such as unnecessary call transfers, prolonged hold times and failure to address customer issues promptly.  

These behaviors contribute to increased call abandonment rates and diminish overall customer satisfaction. Signs of call avoidance include extended calls, unjustified transfers and failure to resolve issues promptly.  

Though call avoidance lacks a specific metric, spotting these behaviors is vital as they harm customer experiences and tarnish your call center's efficiency and reputation over time. 

Top 4 reasons for call avoidance by call center agents 

As humans, we are all fallible, and your call center agents are subject to the same human vulnerabilities and imperfections as the rest of us. It's essential to lead with empathy and understand why agents avoid calls. Here are some possible explanations:  

  1. Irate, difficult customers  
    Agents frequently deal with angry customers who exhibit confrontational and verbally abusive behavior. They display traits like aggression, impatience and unreasonable demands, making these interactions highly stressful for your agents. When agents regularly face hostile customer service scenarios, especially those that end without a resolution, it affects their emotional well-being. The stress of navigating such situations may lead some agents to engage in call avoidance as a coping mechanism to mitigate further mental strain.  

  2. Insufficient training and knowledge  
    At times, customer service agents may find themselves ill-equipped to handle complex customer issues that require specialized knowledge or training. This feeling of inadequacy can be due to insufficient call center agent training, lack of expertise or limited access to necessary resources. When agents face the possibility of failing to resolve customer issues and potential escalation, they may resort to call avoidance. This not only compromises the quality of customer service in a call center but also undermines agents' confidence and professional development.  

  3. The pressure of performance metrics 
    Metrics like average handle time and first call resolution are key indicators of a call center's performance. Agents are often held to strict quality standards to maintain high scores in these metrics.    However, the emphasis on numerical targets in a metric-driven environment may inadvertently incentivize agents to avoid longer, more complex calls that could negatively impact call center agent performance metrics. This can create a workplace culture where customer service quality is sacrificed to meet numerical targets, fostering call avoidance practices.  

  4. Workplace stress and burnout 
    Working at a call center can be challenging. It's a hectic environment characterized by non-stop customer interactions and the pressure to meet targets and maintain high-performance standards. The frenzied pace can take a toll on agents, diminishing their enthusiasm and job satisfaction. Some agents may engage in call avoidance to reduce call center burnout and ease workload pressure.    

After exploring the challenges of workplace stress and burnout in the fast-paced call center environment, it's crucial to prioritize self-care and energy management. Learn how to manage your energy to avoid burnout and thrive in a demanding environment.   

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Critical examples of call avoidance 

Pay attention to the following signals that could indicate call avoidance in your call center.  

🔁 Excessive call transfers: Imagine a customer calling in with a specific inquiry about their billing statement. Instead of addressing the issue directly, the agent transfers the call multiple times, each transfer leading to further frustration and confusion for the customer. This pattern of excessive call transfers prolongs the resolution process and diminishes customer satisfaction.  

📞Prolonged hold times. A customer contacts the call center seeking assistance with a product issue. After navigating through the automated menu, they are placed on hold for an extended period without any updates or assistance from the agent. Prolonged hold times not only test customers' patience but also signal a lack of responsiveness and attentiveness from the call center, tarnishing its reputation.  

👥Remaining in conference mode even after a transfer: Remaining in conference mode after a transfer is a common tactic among agents to avoid direct customer interaction. While conference calls are usually reserved for technical troubleshooting or managing escalated situations, such as when an irate customer requests supervisor intervention, agents staying in this mode unnecessarily can leave issues unresolved. This practice not only hinders efficient issue resolution but also diminishes the quality of customer service provided. 

❓Failure to follow up: Following a customer inquiry or complaint, the agent assures the customer of a follow-up within a specified timeframe. However, days pass without any communication or resolution from the call center, leaving the customer feeling neglected and frustrated. This failure to follow up exacerbates the customer's issue and erodes trust in your call center's ability to deliver timely and effective solutions. 

🤐 Avoidance of complex issues: An agent receives a call regarding a technical issue requiring specialized knowledge. Lacking the necessary expertise, the agent attempts to deflect the call or provide a superficial solution, ultimately failing to address the root cause of the problem. Avoiding complex issues leads to unresolved customer concerns and reflects poorly on your call center's competency and professionalism.  

☕Longer breaks during peak hours. Skipping prime time for customer calls is a direct form of call avoidance, as it reduces agent availability when they are most needed.  

❗Incomplete resolutions: Imagine a customer contacting your call center regarding a technical issue with their software. Your agent provides a quick workaround that temporarily solves the problem but fails to address the underlying issue. As a result, the customer reencounters the same problem later, necessitating another call to your call center for a permanent solution. 

📝 Excessive documentation: While documentation is essential for maintaining accurate records and facilitating follow-up actions, excessive documentation during live calls or after-call work (ACW) can artificially prolong call durations. Agents may utilize this tactic to avoid new incoming calls, thereby contributing to increased average hold times and decreased overall call center efficiency. 

How to manage call avoidance [5 Expert tips] 

Call avoidance is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution. And that's where technology can help. Here are five tech-driven ways to help you overcome call avoidance in your call center. 

Regular call quality monitoring 

Regular quality monitoring can help you manage call avoidance in your call center. You can use call analytics to identify specific queries or situations that agents might be avoiding. This will help you notice patterns of discomfort or reluctance to handle specific calls.  

For example, if specific product-related questions are consistently being avoided, targeted training can boost agent confidence and competency to handle those queries.  

When agents are better prepared and equipped to handle diverse customer interactions, the likelihood of call avoidance drops automatically.

Real-time agent monitoring with Sprinklr Service

Also Read: Call Listening: A Detailed Guide 

Implement omnichannel routing

Omnichannel routing in call centers is a powerful solution for preventing call avoidance. Providing customers with multiple customer service channels caters to individual preferences and reduces agent stress. An integrated knowledge base further enhances agent productivity, reducing the need for prolonged calls or transfers. 

Good to know: Advanced omnichannel routing software powered by AI identifies the necessary skills for incoming queries and routes them to the most qualified agent based on skills, availability and workload. This reduces the need for unnecessary call transfers and minimizes hold times for customers, hence minimal call avoidance in your call center.

AI-powered skill-based routing with Sprinklr Service

Deep Dive: Omnichannel Customer Service [+Benefits, Examples & Strategy]

Utilize performance analytics

By closely monitoring metrics such as average handle time, call transfer rates and call abandonment rates, you can identify patterns indicative of call avoidance behaviors. Advanced call center reporting offers real-time alerts for potential issues, enabling proactive intervention to address underlying concerns promptly.  

Do you know: Modern AI-powered quality management software enables real-time monitoring and alerts for escalations or drops in customer satisfaction scores. This proactive approach empowers managers to address the underlying problems promptly, thereby enhancing team productivity and minimizing the occurrence of call avoidance in call centers.


Call center quality management with Sprinklr Service

Use conversational AI chatbots 

Chatbots can reduce agents' call volume by automating routine tasks such as responding to account inquiries, updating order statuses and addressing FAQs. This automation deflects calls that don't require human intervention and alleviates the overall workload on live agents. 

How Sprinklr AI+ Helps 

Sprinklr AI+ powered agent assist software provides real-time support to agents while interacting with customers. The software automatically suggests similarly resolved cases, relevant knowledge base and guided workflows based on the context of the conversation. Hence, agents can quickly handle complex scenarios without adopting call avoidance tactics like unnecessary call transfers or prolonged hold times.

Sprinklr agent assist software recommending similar resolved case to agents during live call

Optimize workload distribution 

Optimize workload distribution to prevent agents from feeling overwhelmed or overburdened. Use workforce management tools to predict call volumes, and schedule breaks strategically to prevent burnout and fatigue. 

Bonus Read: 17 Call Center Best Practices for Great Customer Service [2024]. 

5 ways to prevent call avoidance in call centers

We've covered how to bridge the call avoidance gap when you recognize it. But how do you prevent it from occurring in the first place?   

1. Establish a call avoidance management framework 

Acknowledge the existence of call avoidance and communicate it with clarity. Create a call avoidance management framework with clear guidelines and expectations. For example, implement a rule where repeated call avoidance leads to a review meeting. Balance that with a policy that rewards agents who consistently handle tough calls. 

2. Encourage open communication and feedback 

Build a culture of open communication where your agents are encouraged to share their challenges without judgment. Conduct regular feedback sessions and team meetings to provide a safe space for agents to share their experiences and suggest improvements. This approach will help you identify problems and create a more inclusive, nurturing and solution-oriented workspace. 

3. Address the underlying issues 

Tackle the root causes of call avoidance with modern call center technology. For instance, if agents are overwhelmed by high call volumes, integrating virtual agents and customer self-service can help. These technologies facilitate faster resolution of queries, allowing agents to focus more on complex calls and less on routine inquiries.  

4. Incentivize agents if you aren't doing so already 

Recognize and reward agents who demonstrate proactive communication, effective problem-solving and a commitment to customer satisfaction. Celebrate achievements and milestones to foster a culture of excellence and motivate agents to perform at their best. 

Related read: How to Improve Your Call Center Efficiency 

Spot call avoidance with Sprinklr Service 

Call avoidance is a common issue affecting both call centers' efficiency and customer satisfaction. However, it is often difficult to identify and address. Fortunately, Sprinklr Service provides a comprehensive solution to overcome this challenge.  

With its powerful performance analytics, omnichannel routing capabilities and proactive engagement tools, Sprinklr enables call centers to identify call avoidance behaviors, streamline operations and improve customer satisfaction. 
Interested in knowing more? 

Take Sprinklr Service for a Spin 

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