Minimizing Call Center Shrinkage to Boost Productivity

Faith Ocampo Published on September 14, 2016 Last updated on August 10, 2022

Monitoring call center shrinkage will allow you to optimize agents’ scheduling for increased productivity.

invisible employee using laptop

Agents are the most important resource of contact centers. Although automated solutions already exist, nothing can match the quality of work real people can deliver, especially when it comes to customer service.

To stay on top of massive amounts of customer interactions, managers aim to keep agents focused on their tasks. Ideally, employees must stay on their desks, continuously answering calls, and manning digital channels. However, there are cases when this isn’t possible. We refer to these moments as call center shrinkage.

In the contact center, shrinkage refers to the amount of time within which agents are being paid but they’re unavailable to handle customer service transactions. It’s one of the most important concepts in workforce management and schedule adherence that managers consider when forecasting workforce demand and shifting.

Two Types of Shrinkage

It’s important to track and calculate shrinkage as accurately as possible so contact centers can successfully cope with the volume of work they must deal with. But first, we must understand its various forms.

office chair with paper on leave
  • External Shrinkage occurs when agents are physically absent from the call center or from their desks. It may be because of pre-approved sick or vacation leaves or government-mandated holidays. Paid lunch breaks and bathroom breaks are also categorized under external shrinkage.

    The most difficult to manage, however, are employees who often don’t show up for work or come in late.

  • Internal Shrinkage, on the other hand, occurs when agents are engaged in other tasks outside of their daily workload. Examples are team meetings and training sessions. They may also be pulled out of their daily tasks so they can help other departments or work on projects that require their skill.

Minimizing Shrinkage

To boost employee productivity, you should aim to minimize shrinkage and optimize call center agents’ use of time. This way, you’ll be better equipped to handle more transactions and therefore increase customer satisfaction.

Here are four tips to handle shrinkage and blunt its negative impacts.

  1. Track It

    annoyed call center team leader pointing to alarm clock

    To track schedule adherence, many call centers deploy employee tracking applications that let users log in and out as they start and end their shift, respectively. These programs also allow employees to file their break times, meetings, and other activities they do during the day. By looking at these time logs, you can calculate shrinkage and identify the activities that unnecessarily take up plenty of time. You can also spot employees who break your attendance rules.

  2. Monitor Absenteeism

    customer service leader reprimanding call center agent

    Absenteeism is usually a sign of much bigger problems in the contact center. It often points to plummeting employee engagement levels or management issues that must immediately be addressed. Excessive absences can significantly decrease employee productivity and lead to additional costs for the call center. You should therefore find out what causes these habitual absences so you can start implementing solutions right away.

  3. Keep Employees Engaged

    call center coworkers celebrating customer support score

    Simply enforcing an attendance policy isn’t enough to motivate your call center agents to show up for work consistently. To make them want to go to work, you must build an environment that inspires them.

    Stimulate agents’ involvement in the workplace by giving them opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Also, you may organize team building activities and company events to encourage them to socialize with their colleagues.

  4. Reward Productive Agents


    happy employee holding gift

    To inspire other employees to replicate your top agents’ performance, you can offer to reward exceptional performance and achievements. Just make sure to give them something they’ll truly appreciate. Some provide monetary incentives, while others celebrate with food, movie tickets, and other tokens.

    Similarly, you can also employ gamification in your programs. It fuses work and play, making tasks fun and engaging. With prizes, it delights in the spirit of friendly competition while ensuring call center productivity.

Call center shrinkage will be the least of your worries when you partner with a reliable, full-suite BPO partner like Open Access BPO. Your support teams will be tracked, monitored, engaged, and rewarded through our tried-and-tested processes meant to target shrinkage and improve your customer experience.

Learn more about our customer support, content moderation, and back office solutions to fit your needs.

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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