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How to reduce contact center shrinkage

Call center reps


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  • Contact center shrinkage is the amount of time agents are paid to handle customer interactions, versus the amount of time they actually do that
  • High contact center shrinkage rates reveal inefficiencies
  • Workforce management solutions help you identify performance issues and build better schedules

When agents are on the clock at your contact center, how much time do they spend working with customers? If they’re working on-site, it’s easier to monitor them, but if they’re working remotely, you may have no idea.

The concept of measuring the amount of time spent with customers versus the time spent on other activities is known as shrinkage. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the concept of shrinkage and how to prevent it.

What is contact center shrinkage?

The time for which agents are paid to work with customers (be that over the phone, through video conference, or through live chat) versus the time they spend actually doing so is known as contact center shrinkage. Contact center shrinkage tells you how much time agents spend on activities aside from interacting with customers.

By measuring contact center shrinkage, supervisors can understand the amount of time an agent isn’t available to handle customer interactions.

Causes of contact center shrinkage

Contact center shrinkage can be caused by internal factors or external factors.:

Internal Factors

There are factors that affect contact center shrinkage which stem from the contact center itself:

  • Training sessions
  • Team meetings
  • Coaching
  • One-on-one feedback sharing
  • System breakdowns
  • Scheduled system maintenance
  • Work that the agent does after the interaction (such as updating any systems of record or filling in requisite forms)

External factors

Sometimes, the factors affecting contact center shrinkage come from outside of the contact center:

  • Holidays
  • Paid leave
  • Sick days
  • Absenteeism
  • Leaving a shift early
  • Tardiness
  • Empower work from home agents and create a better customer experience. 🎉 


Why contact center shrinkage matters

You’ve hired your agents to spend as much time as possible interacting with customers. There’s some shrinkage to be expected (experts estimate a normal shrinkage rate is 30-35 percent), yet if your agents exceed the normal rate, it means that customers aren’t receiving the help they need.

It also means that you may not have enough agents on-shift to handle the volume of customer interactions. You need to reassess your staffing needs to meet customer demand.

How can you reduce contact center shrinkage?

You can reduce contact center shrinkage with workforce management tools. Workforce management solutions help you identify issues impacting how agents serve customers, including contact center shrinkage. Here’s how they work:

  • Offer performance analytics
  • Offer omnichannel analytics
  • Identify performance issues
  • Assist you in building a schedule that offers adequate coverage

Phone operator working at call centre office helping hiss colleague

Offer performance analytics

In an on-site contact center, walking around the contact center gives you immediate insight into what agents are doing at that moment (interacting with customers, filling out forms, or engaging in some other activity). However, many contact centers have made the switch to working remotely or at least have taken a hybrid approach.

WFM software helps you understand what employees are doing through performance analytics. You can see which activities take up an agent’s time (as well as how long it takes agents to handle interactions, how many problems an agent resolves in a single interaction, and customers’ satisfaction with the agent).

Offer omnichannel analytics

What do omnichannel analytics have to do with contact center shrinkage? Omnichannel analytics measure the extent to which customers utilize channels available to them, as well as the quality of that service.

For example, you might see that your self-service options aren’t being utilized very much. Self-service channels allow customers to find information on their own, especially at times when agents are in high demand (such as at the holidays or when a new product comes out).

With these analytics, you can create a strategy to drive customers to self-service channels, which are faster and more convenient than waiting for an available agent.

Identify performance issues

WFM software also helps you identify performance issues that prevent your agents from delivering the best possible service to customers.

You can see whether agents are utilizing their time efficiently, or if there’s been a history of problems such as tardiness and absenteeism that affect an agent. That knowledge helps you frame the conversation with agents to discuss how to improve their performance.

Assist you in building a schedule that offers adequate coverage

One of the biggest factors contributing to contact center shrinkage is inadequate staffing. If agents are so busy with other activities that they can’t handle interactions with customers, customers will become dissatisfied and take their business elsewhere.

Workforce analytics and omnichannel analytics show you when you have the lowest coverage, as well as which skills are the most in-demand (for example, you might discover that what you need for the evening shift are agents who have experience handling returns). With that knowledge, you can create a schedule that ensures coverage and that you have the right skills mix.

The benefits of reducing contact center shrinkage

By reducing contact center shrinkage, you improve the customer experience. You’ll schedule agents to work shifts that need the most coverage, and you’ll utilize the most in-demand skills to meet customer needs.

Additionally, you’ll have the insight needed to create a strategy to drive customers to self-service options. Research from American Express revealed that over 60 percent of US consumers prefer automated self-service options for simple customer service tasks; if customers don’t know that you offer self-service options, or they’re not sure how they work, they won’t use them as much and you’ll see greater pressure on your agents.

Reduce contact center shrinkage with RingCentral’s WFM software

RingCentral’s WFM software gives you the tools you need to reduce contact center shrinkage. With our WFM software, you can see up-to-date, accurate performance analytics and omnichannel analytics. That information helps you improve agent performance as well as build schedules for better contact center coverage. To learn more about our WFM software, get a demo.


Originally published Dec 20, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022

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