Contact center shrinkage

Contact center shrinkage refers to the amount of time that call center agents are not available to handle customer interactions, even though they are scheduled to be working. Shrinkage can occur for a variety of reasons, such as scheduled breaks, time off, training, meetings or unexpected events such as technical issues or absenteeism.

To effectively manage shrinkage, call center managers must calculate and track the shrinkage rate, which is the percentage of scheduled agent time in which they are not available to handle customer interactions. The shrinkage rate is typically calculated by dividing the total time that agents are not available (due to breaks, meetings, etc.) by the total scheduled agent time.

Shrinkage is an important metric to track because it directly impacts the number of agents that are needed to maintain service levels. For example, if the average handle time for customer interactions is five minutes, and the shrinkage rate is 20%, then for every 100 hours of scheduled agent time, only 80 hours are available for handling customer interactions. This means that more agents will be needed to handle the same volume of interactions compared to a scenario with a lower shrinkage rate.

To manage shrinkage effectively, call center managers must balance the needs of the business with the needs of agents. This might involve implementing flexible scheduling practices, offering incentives for adherence to schedules, and providing opportunities for agents to self-manage their breaks and other activities.

Overall, effective management of shrinkage is critical to maintaining service levels and achieving customer satisfaction in the contact center. By carefully monitoring and managing shrinkage rates, call center managers can optimize agent resources and ensure customer interactions are handled efficiently and effectively.