Do you know how many of your scheduled call center agents are actually available to take calls at any given time versus how many are on break, attending team meetings, doing after call work, out sick or late to their shift? This percentage is known as shrinkage. Understanding shrinkage percentage as a call center key performance indicator (KPI), how to calculate and manage it can give you an edge in improving customer interactions, average handle time, service level, and your own bottom line.
Call center shrinkage is the number of agents actively taking calls divided by the number of agents who are not available for any reason. Those reasons can include:
External Shrinkage Factors:
Internal Shrinkage Factors:
Other factors might include participating in company events such as farewell parties, or other unplanned activities that affect schedule adherence such as going to the bathroom, taking personal calls, or emergencies that cause the employee to leave unexpectedly.
There are many factors that can cause shrinkage, including some hidden ones that are not so obvious as well as some that are beyond your control, and shrinkage percentage has to be taken into account when scheduling the number of agents needed to handle incoming call volume. Call centers that consider shrinkage as a major workforce management (WFM) indicator when doing hiring and scheduling tend to meet a higher service level at a lower cost. So how can you accurately determine your shrinkage percentage and what are some of the steps you can take to reduce it?
Let’s say you need 100 agents to handle call volume during a half-hour amount of time to meet your service level targets. If at any given point during that half-hour period 30 agents are not available to handle calls, that is a shrinkage percentage of 70/30, or 30%, as shown in the formula below:
At first, you might think, OK, I have a shrinkage percentage of 30%, so that means I just need to hire 30% more staff, or 30 additional call center agents to hit my service level. Actually, those 30 additional agents will themselves have a shrinkage rate of 30%, or about 9 out of 30, meaning you will need 9 more agents for your contact center, and those 9 will have 30% shrinkage, so on and so forth. Ultimately, if you need 100 agents and have a shrinkage percentage of 30%, that means you will need 143 agents.
Tracking shrinkage manually or using contact center software can help you identify where and when shrinkage is taking place. You may find that the highest shrinkage percentage occurs between 9-11am or 2-3pm, statistically the time when most team meetings are scheduled. Seasonally, most shrinkage occurs during summer months or at school dismissal times. There might be certain teams or departments within the contact center with higher shrinkage, or certain employees who take longer breaks, go to the bathroom more often or take more time for personal calls. By knowing how shrinkage occurs, call center managers can more effectively ensure agent schedule adherence.
One point to keep in mind when considering shrinkage for WFM is that reducing shrinkage should not happen in a vacuum. Companies looking at reducing the amount of time agents spend in team meetings or trainings to control shrinkage, for instance, should consider the impact those decisions might have on customer experience and customer satisfaction. Often additional trainings are the first thing to go, which can have an effect on the overall quality of customer service that the caller receives.
There are a number of Erlang calculators available online to help you calculate shrinkage by call volume, amount of time, average handle time and service level. However, using contact center software to monitor shrinkage for you can eliminate these manual steps and let you get back to the business of running your company.
Read more about how Talkdesk cloud call center software leverages powerful AI and real-time analytics to help with workforce management.
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