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What is a Lost Call Versus Missed Call?

March 31, 2023
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Lost or missed calls are terms often used interchangeably in a call center. They are also frequently confused with abandoned or dropped calls. 

No matter what it is, a missed, lost, abandoned, or dropped call — it will heavily affect the business image, revenue, and customer reviews. In the following guide, let's go through all these terms used in a call center and how they differ from each other! 

Quick Answer: Lost Call Versus Missed Call? 

If you are looking for a quick answer for lost calls versus missed calls, here's what you should know:

For example, a call center with five channel lines can only receive five calls simultaneously. So, sixth and subsequent calls will be lost as they cannot land without a free channel line. 

Yet, if there is a free channel line and a call lands, but none of the agents answer, it will be a missed call. 

More About Lost Calls Versus Missed Calls

Let's look into details now and understand more about what makes lost calls different from missed calls. 

What are Lost Calls in a Call Center?

As mentioned earlier, the primary reason behind a lost call is limited channel lines. But there are also other reasons why a call would be considered lost. 

In cases where the call center has limited channels, a call is lost involuntarily. But remember that it can also happen purposely, such as when one of the parties hangs up before the call is answered. 

So, in this case, the caller would reach out to the agent, but the call would be dropped due to any party's hanging up (accidentally or purposely). 

Another reason behind lost calls is a technical error. Sometimes, the call center may have many channel lines, but the call can still drop due to technical failure. If not fixed, these small errors can lead to bigger mechanical failures and prolonged work downtimes. 

So, overall, the term "lost call" is an umbrella term covering any call in which the customer fails to reach the agent. In all cases, the call will follow an incomplete interaction between the customer and the agent. It can include

  • The call failed to land due to limited channel lines.
  • The customer or call center agent hung up the call before the call was answered. 
  • The customer or call center agent hung up the call before the interaction was complete 
  • The call failed to land due to technical errors. 
  • The call ended up accidentally due to technical failures. 

What are Missed Calls in a Call Center? 

As mentioned earlier, the call is considered "missed" when any call center agents do not answer it. Unlike a lost call that fails to land, a missed call does land but is not answered. 

Moreover, it is important to note that the ringing is necessary for a call to be considered missed. So, the missed call must ring at least once and not be answered. 

Another case for a missed call would be when the call rings but is not rejected by any call agent. Though sometimes, voluntarily rejected calls are also counted as missed calls. 

Besides, every call has a limited ringing time. If a call exceeds its ringing time and no one answers, it will be considered missed. 

Another reason for a missed call is when a new agent doesn't answer the call, and the old agent is still on the previous call. So, the call would automatically be missed by the time the old agent finishes their call. By the way, we covered the required soft skills of a call center agent in one of our recent articles. 

Note that a lost call can be considered a missed call if the customer or agent hangs up during the welcome message. But, it will be counted as lost if the call time reaches the IVR menu or the waiting queue. 

Lastly, a blind transfer is another common reason behind missed calls. Blind transfer happens when one agent transfers the call to another agent without acknowledging whether the other agent is free. So, the call remains in the waiting queue because all the other agents are busy, and the call is eventually missed. 

To summarize, the primary scenario for a missed call is when it lands in the call center but is not answered or rejected. For that, we can pinpoint various reasons that would make a call missed:

  • The call rings at least once but is not answered by any agents. 
  • The call rings at least once but is rejected accidentally or purposely by the agent. 
  • The call keeps on ringing and reaches its maximum ringing limit. It would then automatically be missed. 
  • The call keeps ringing, but one agent doesn't answer it, hoping any other agent would, but all the other agents are already busy. 
  • The call was transferred blindly (without acknowledging if any agent was free) and remained in the waiting queue long enough to be missed.  

So, How are Lost Calls Different from Missed Calls?

Here is a table for you to quickly understand the primary differences between lost and missed calls. 

Lost Calls Missed Calls
What is it?Fails to land in the call centerLands in the call center but is not answered 
Primary ReasonLimited channel lines The agent doesn’t answer or reject the call 
Other Reasons The call hung up before it was answered 
The call landed but hung up, leading to incomplete customer-agent interaction 
Technical errors 
Not answered or rejected (voluntarily/involuntarily) by agents 
The call reached the maximum ringing limit 
Blind call transfer 
ConditionRinging is not required, as any call failing to land in the center would be counted as lost Ringing is a must for a call to be missed

Are Lost Calls the Same as Abandoned or Dropped Calls?

Lost calls are often confused with abandoned and dropped calls. But all these terms are entirely different from each other. 

Now that you know the primary differences between lost and missed calls, let's briefly look into abandoned and dropped calls and how they differ from lost and missed calls. 

What are Abandoned Calls?

Abandoned calls are most often confused with lost calls. In both cases, the agent and customer interaction is incomplete. But abandoned calls are when the caller hangs up the phone before the agent answers. 

So, a lost call fails to land for any reason (limited channels, technical errors, call hanging up before it was answered). But, an "abandoned call" specifically refers to the case when the customer hangs up before the call is answered. 

To sum up, abandoned calls are a type of lost call but require the customer to hang up the call before the call is answered. It also means that if the agent hangs up the call, the call would be counted as lost. So, both lost and abandoned calls are pretty much the same, except that abandoned calls are catered toward customers.

What are Dropped Calls? 

A dropped call is also a type of lost call where it fails to land in the call center. The call would be considered "dropped" when the call fails due to a technical error. 

Dropped calls are most common in a call center. The technical error causing them can be from the agent's or customer's side. These mechanical failures can be due to poor signals or busy networks. 

Remember that dropped calls are more common today and can cause huge business revenue if not fixed on time. So, tracking whether the calls are getting dropped from the customer's or agent's side is important. A higher dropped call rate would mean a fault in the system and should be fixed immediately. 

Lost, Missed, Abandoned, Dropped — Quick Difference 

Lost, missed, abandoned, dropped — all this can be highly confusing. To make things easier for you, here is a quick difference between lost, misused, abandoned, and dropped calls:

  • Missed Calls: The call lands in the call center but is not answered by the agent. 
  • Lost Calls: The call fails to land in the call center. 
  • Abandoned Calls: A type of lost call that fails to land in the call center because the customer hangs up the call before it is answered. 
  • Dropped Calls: A type of lost call that fails to land in the call center because of a technical error in the system. 


The business image, customer reviews, and the company's image - everything is affected, whether lost or missed calls. If the numbers of such call failures are high, know it's time to take action. 

You can reduce the ratio of missed or lost (and subsequently abandoned or dropped) calls by reducing the queue wait time so that the customer doesn't lose patience and hangs up the call. A message after every 30 seconds informing customers about the estimated wait time will also keep them on the call. Lastly, make sure to track lost calls and assign callbacks to make sure customers are satisfied.

At our company, we understand the importance of providing excellent customer service and ensuring that every call is answered promptly. We can improve communication, enhance the customer experience, and maintain a positive business image. Contact us and together we make every call count and provide the best possible service to our customers.

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