Achieve Operational Excellence by Minimizing Call Centre Shrinkage
At the heart of any successful enterprise is communication. So it’s no wonder call centres exist—to provide a direct connection between businesses and their customers.
But, as more and more people flock toward digital channels for support, it can be difficult to remain agile. This is especially true when you’re keen on addressing customer needs while also managing the operating costs of running a full-service centre.
One way enterprises do try to tackle this situation is to keep up with fluctuations in demand: when calls spike suddenly or flatline unexpectedly (known as call centre shrinkage).
Properly planned staff allocation ensures customers get exactly what they need from your service without breaking the bank.
So how can you approach this cost versus quality balance while maintaining an efficient operation?
Read on for insights into best practices that will help you successfully manage call centre shrinkage!
What Is Call Centre Shrinkage?
Call centre shrinkage is a crucial metric in workforce management (WFM) that measures the amount of unproductive time spent by call centre agents. This generally covers instances when they’re unavailable to handle customer calls.
Call Centre Shrinkage Formula
This metric is calculated by dividing the total unproductive amount of time by the total available time (total hours) and then expressing it as a percentage.
The formula for call centre shrinkage is as follows:
call centre Shrinkage Rate = (Total Unproductive Time / Total Available Time) * 100
Types of Shrinkage in a Call Centre
Understanding the types of shrinkage and the factors influencing them is essential for optimizing call centre operations. The following are two major types of shrinkage in call centres:
Internal shrinkage refers to the unproductive time caused by activities directly related to call centre operations.
Those actions, while impacting productivity, are essential for maintaining agent productivity, skill development, and effective management.
Understanding and managing internal shrinkage is crucial for optimizing call centre performance.
Examples of Internal Call Centre Shrinkage:
- Team meetings: Regularly scheduled group conversations between call centre managers and team members can impact worker productivity, contributing to call shrinkage
- Training sessions: Structured programs aimed at enhancing agents’ skills, product knowledge, customer service techniques, or new technology adoption contribute to agents’ professional development, but also temporarily reduce their availability for handling incoming calls
- One-on-one meetings: Sessions between supervisors and individual agents for coaching, performance evaluation, feedback, and addressing specific concerns can sometimes drag on and could get in the way of efficient call centre operations at the time
- Other internal factors: These may include lunch breaks, after call work, scheduled breaks, etc.
External shrinkage refers to unproductive time caused by factors beyond the control of the call centre’s management or its agents.
These are often unexpected and can impact agent availability and call centre efficiency. Managing external shrinkage requires proactive measures and contingency plans to mitigate the impact on customer service.
Examples of External Call Centre Shrinkage:
- System downtime: Technical issues, software updates, maintenance, or server failures temporarily disrupt call centre systems and prevent agents from handling customer calls
- Unexpected interruptions: Unforeseen events, such as power outages, natural disasters, or network failures, can temporarily halt call centre operations and hinder agent availability
- Other external factors: These may include holidays, sick time, absenteeism, leaving early, or coming in late
Management Practices Affecting Call Centre Shrinkage
Several additional factors and management practices that contribute to call centre shrinkage include:
- Scheduling and staffing: Inadequate forecasting and staffing can lead to understaffed shifts or inefficient schedules, resulting in higher shrinkage rates
- Agent motivation and engagement: Low morale, lack of motivation, and disengagement can lead to longer breaks, personal calls, or other unproductive activities
- Service level targets: Balancing service level targets with post-call tasks and quality assurance processes may require additional agent time, contributing to a high shrinkage rate
Businesses can reduce call centre shrinkage by addressing these factors, implementing efficient scheduling practices, fostering agent motivation, and leveraging call centre software and workforce management tools.
This optimization enhances agent productivity, reduces costs, and improves overall customer experience and satisfaction.
Strategies for Managing Call Centre Shrinkage
Effectively managing call centre shrinkage is essential for optimizing productivity, meeting service level agreements (SLAs), and enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
Call centres can minimize shrinkage and maximize operational efficiency by implementing targeted strategies and leveraging workforce management (WFM) practices.
Use Effective Workforce Management and Scheduling Techniques
- Accurate forecasting: Utilize historical data and call patterns to forecast call volumes and staffing requirements. Doing this helps align agent availability with expected call demand.
- Optimized scheduling: To minimize shrinkage, create schedules that take agent availability, skill sets, and call patterns into consideration. Use advanced scheduling software to automate the process and ensure optimal staffing levels.
Address Employee Motivation and Engagement
- Recognition and rewards: Implement incentive programs to recognize and reward high-performing agents. This boosts motivation, reduces unproductive time, and increases engagement.
- Growth and development opportunities: Provide agents with continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement opportunities. Engaged agents are more likely to demonstrate schedule adherence and reduced shrinkage.
Implement Technology Solutions
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Use optimized IVR systems to automate routine customer inquiries and reduce agent idle time. This allows agents to focus on more complex issues, minimizing shrinkage.
- Contact centre software: Leverage contact centre software with real-time monitoring capabilities to track agent performance, identify areas of improvement, and make proactive adjustments to optimize operations.
Add Performance Metrics and Tracking Systems
- Shrinkage calculation: Establish a consistent method for identifying and measuring areas contributing to shrinkage, and regularly analyze the data to identify trends and opportunities for improvement. Monitor shrinkage as a percentage of total available time.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Set KPIs related to schedule adherence, average handle time, and agent performance. Regularly measure and track these metrics to identify and address shrinkage-related issues.
Conduct Regular Training and Coaching Sessions
- Schedule adherence training: Train agents on the importance of schedule adherence and provide practical tips to help them meet their scheduled commitments.
- Effective time management: Equip agents with techniques for efficiently handling post-call tasks and minimizing non-productive activities like personal calls during the assigned number of work hours.
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Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.