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Call center shrinkage 101

Call center shrinkage 101

As the heartbeat of customer service, call centers navigate a dynamic environment, but the challenge lies in managing the inevitable interruptions to agent availability. 

Call center shrinkage is a common challenge many organizations that operate call centers face today.

The impact of shrinkage can be significant, resulting in reduced productivity, increased customer wait times, and decreased overall satisfaction. 

In this article, we’ll examine the concept of call center shrinkage, its key causes, and some insights into effective management strategies.  

What is call center shrinkage?

Call center shrinkage refers to when call center agents are unavailable to handle incoming calls. It’s a workforce management metric that accounts for both planned and unplanned factors. 

During call center shrinkage, agents are still paid but are unable to handle interactions. This results in overall lower call center productivity and customer satisfaction. 

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Efficiently minimizing call center shrinkage is crucial to optimizing agent utilization and effectively managing call volumes. 

What is call center shrinkage
What is call center shrinkage

Causes call center shrinkage

Various factors can cause call center shrinkage. Effective forecasting and scheduling can address some of these issues and minimize the impact on operations. 

Let’s examine both external and internal factors for call center shrinkage:

External factors that cause call center shrinkage

External factors encompass any incidents that occur outside the control of the call center. The solution to many of these is to develop effective strategies to mitigate their impact. 

These include: 

  • Weather-related events – Adverse weather conditions can lead to transportation disruptions and power outages, impacting agents’ ability to travel to the call center or causing technical difficulties. 
  • Health crises – Large-scale health crises, like pandemics, can increase absenteeism due to illness. 
  • Local events and holidays – These events can lead to increased absenteeism due to employees either participating in the activities or being affected by local preparations. 
  • Economic conditions – Economic downturns or fluctuations can result in cost-cutting measures in the workforce. 
  • Political unrest – Political instability can disrupt transportation, communication, and infrastructure. 
  • Regulatory changes – These changes may necessitate additional training, contributing to call center shrinkage. 

Internal factors that cause call center shrinkage

Internal factors are issues caused within the organization. Recognizing these factors is crucial to implement strategies that streamline operations and minimize call center shrinkage. 

These include:

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  • Team meetings – While essential for collaboration and training, they take agents away from their desks and contribute to call center shrinkage. 
  • Breaks – Scheduled breaks and lunch hours are essential for maintaining agent well-being and productivity, but they contribute to shrinkage.
  • Administrative tasks – Administrative duties like documentation can increase call center shrinkage. 
  • Shift changes – Managing shift rotations or accommodating flexible schedules for agents can contribute to shrinkage.
  • System updates and maintenance – Regular updates are necessary for the smooth functioning of call center technology but can also lead to shrinkage. 

How to track call center shrinkage

You can follow these steps to track call center shrinkage: 

  • Define shrinkage metrics. Clearly define the key metrics associated with call center shrinkage and establish a standard set of KPIs that align with your objectives. 
  • Use workforce management (WFM) software. This software can help you track and analyze call center shrinkage by providing real-time data on agent availability and activities. 
  • Monitor adherence to schedules. By monitoring agent adherence to their schedules, you can identify non-compliance and take corrective action. 
  • Conduct regular performance evaluations. These can help you pinpoint any behavioral or performance issues contributing to call center shrinkage. 
  • Continuously improve processes. Analyze the root causes of your call center shrinkage and identify areas for improvement. Incorporate feedback from both management and frontline agents. 
How to track call center shrinkage
How to track call center shrinkage

Tips to minimize call center shrinkage

Here are some tips to help lessen call center shrinkage: 

Optimize scheduling

Implement efficient scheduling practices to minimize the impact of call center shrinkage on overall productivity. Schedule breaks and lunches strategically to ensure consistent agent coverage, especially during peak call times.

It would be helpful to use workforce management software to help you optimize. 

Streamline training and coaching

Agents can become more efficient and handle calls with minimal after-call work by providing thorough training and coaching. Keep all training materials up-to-date to ensure training sessions remain relevant and efficient. 

With better training and guidance, agents can spend less time preparing for their next call or performing quality assurance, reducing call center shrinkage.

Enhance employee engagement

Foster a positive work environment to enhance employee satisfaction and reduce turnover, which is the worst-case scenario for call center shrinkage. 

Implement recognition programs, team-building activities, and open communication channels to boost morale. 

Use technology solutions

Invest in technology solutions to streamline operations and reduce downtime. 

Quality management tools can help supervisors and managers monitor agent performance, identify performance gaps, and provide targeted coaching and feedback. 

Manage system downtime

Take steps to maintain system health and keep downtime to a minimum. Conduct regular maintenance and establish backup systems.

Remember to communicate advanced notice of any planned changes to agents throughout all this. It will reduce the impact on agent morale and performance. 

By following these tips, you can minimize call center shrinkage and reduce costs while creating a more flexible workforce. 

Addressing call center shrinkage

Addressing call center shrinkage properly requires a proactive and data-driven approach. Call centers must optimize agent availability while effectively managing internal factors contributing to this issue. 

Addressing call center shrinkage
Addressing call center shrinkage

Call centers can successfully address and mitigate the effects of shrinkage through careful planning, ongoing monitoring, and continuous improvement. In doing so, they pave the way for not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations. 

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