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Lost Call or Missed Call? Decoding the Call Center Terminology: №1
Customer Care

Lost Call or Missed Call? Decoding the Call Center Terminology

March 31, 2023
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Lost or missed calls are commonly used terms in call centers, often mistakenly interchanged with abandoned or dropped calls. However, regardless of the terminology, any of these types of calls can significantly impact a business's reputation, revenue, and customer feedback.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the distinctions between these call types and their implications in a call center environment. Gain a clear understanding of each term and their unique effects on your business.

Quick Answer: Lost Call vs Missed Call

If you're seeking a clear distinction between lost calls and missed calls, here's what you need to understand:

Lost Call or Missed Call? Decoding the Call Center Terminology: №1

In a call center scenario with five channel lines, only five calls can be received simultaneously. Consequently, any sixth or subsequent calls will be lost since they cannot connect without an available channel line.

However, if there is a free channel line and a call arrives but none of the agents answer, it will be classified as a missed call.

More About Lost Calls And Missed Calls

Now, let's delve into the details and gain a deeper understanding of the distinctions between lost calls and missed calls.

What are Lost Calls in a Call Center?

As mentioned earlier, a lost call refers to a situation where a customer fails to reach an agent in a call center. While limited channel lines are the main cause of lost calls, there are other factors to consider as well. 

Involuntarily lost calls occur when the call center has a shortage of channels. However, intentional call abandonment can also happen when either party hangs up before the call is answered.

Technical errors can also result in lost calls. Even if the call center has sufficient channel lines, technical failures can lead to dropped calls. If not addressed promptly, these minor glitches can escalate into major mechanical failures and disrupt work operations.

In summary, the term "lost call" encompasses any call where the customer cannot connect with an agent. This includes instances where:

  • The call failed to land due to limited channel lines.
  • The customer or agent terminates the call before it is answered.
  • The customer or agent ends the call before the interaction is 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? 

In a call center, a call is considered "missed" when it goes unanswered by any of the call center agents. Unlike a lost call that fails to connect, a missed call does reach the center but remains unanswered.

It's important to note that for a call to be classified as missed, it must ring at least once without being answered. Sometimes, voluntarily rejected calls are also counted as missed calls.

Additionally, every call has a designated ringing time. If the call exceeds this time and no one answers, it is marked as missed.

Another scenario for a missed call occurs when a new agent is unable to answer the call because the previous agent is still engaged in a conversation. Consequently, by the time the old agent finishes their call, the incoming call is already missed. We recently covered the essential soft skills of call center agents in one of our articles.

It's worth mentioning that a lost call can be considered a missed call if either the customer or the agent hangs up during the welcome message. However, if the call reaches the IVR menu or the waiting queue before being disconnected, it is classified as a lost call.

Lastly, blind transfers contribute to missed calls. This occurs when an agent transfers a call to another agent without confirming their availability. If all other agents are occupied and the call remains in the waiting queue, it will eventually be marked as missed.

To summarize, a missed call in the call center occurs when it goes unanswered or is rejected. There are several reasons for a call to be missed, including:

  • No agents answer the call despite it ringing at least once.
  • The call rings at least once but is rejected accidentally or purposely by the agent. 
  • The call continues to ring until it reaches the maximum ringing limit and is automatically marked as missed.
  • One agent doesn't answer the call, assuming that another available agent will, but all agents are already busy.
  • The call is blindly transferred without checking if any agents are free, resulting in a long waiting queue and eventual missing of the call.

What Distinguishes Lost Calls from Missed Calls?

Take a look at this table to easily grasp the main distinctions between the two.

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 customer or agent ends the call before the interaction is complete
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 Synonymous With Abandoned Or Dropped Calls?

Lost calls, abandoned calls, and dropped calls are distinct terms frequently misunderstood.

Having learned about lost and missed calls, it's important to differentiate abandoned and dropped calls from them. Let's briefly explore abandoned and dropped calls and their distinctions from lost and missed calls.

What are Abandoned Calls?

Abandoned calls are often confused with lost calls, but there is a distinct difference. In both cases, the interaction between the agent and the customer remains incomplete. However, abandoned calls specifically occur when the caller hangs up before the agent has a chance to answer.

In contrast, a lost call can fail to connect for various reasons such as limited channels or technical errors, and it includes cases where the call ends before it is answered. Abandoned calls, on the other hand, specifically refer to instances when the customer hangs up before the call is answered.

To clarify, abandoned calls are a subset of lost calls but specifically require the customer to hang up before the call is answered. If the agent ends the call, it would be classified as a lost call. Essentially, while lost and abandoned calls share similarities, abandoned calls are focused on customer-initiated disconnections.

What are Dropped Calls? 

Dropped calls occur when a call fails to connect to the call center due to technical issues. This type of lost call can result from errors on either the agent's or customer's end, often stemming from poor signals or congested networks.

In today's world, dropped calls are increasingly prevalent and can have a significant impact on business revenue if left unresolved. It is crucial to monitor and identify whether calls are dropping from the customer's or agent's side. A higher rate of dropped calls indicates a system fault that requires immediate attention and resolution.

Stay proactive and address these issues promptly to maintain optimal call center performance.

Lost, Missed, Abandoned, Dropped — Quick Difference 

Lost, missed, abandoned, and dropped calls can be confusing. To clarify, here's a quick distinction:

  • Missed Calls: The call lands in the call center but is not answered by the agent. 
  • Lost Calls: The call fails to reach the call center.
  • Abandoned Calls: A type of lost call where the customer hangs up before the call is answered.
  • Dropped Calls: A type of lost call due to technical system error preventing it from reaching the call center.


Every missed or lost call can have a significant impact on your business's image and customer reviews. It's crucial to take action when the number of call failures is high.

To reduce missed or lost calls, focus on minimizing queue wait times to prevent customers from becoming impatient and hanging up. Providing regular updates on estimated wait times can also help keep them engaged. Additionally, tracking lost calls and arranging callbacks ensures customer satisfaction.

At our company, we prioritize excellent customer service and aim to answer every call promptly. We specialize in improving communication, enhancing the customer experience, and maintaining a positive business image. Contact us to make every call count and provide the best service to your customers.

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