Shrink Your Contact Center Shrinkage

Shrink your contact center shrinkage

Whether you use Erlang C or any other staffing-need calculation, your staffing levels will never be paragons of unblemished perfection. Shrinkage happens.* Even with today’s workforce management (WFM) systems helping schedulers take multiple shrinkage factors into account, staffing gaps are inevitable. The mission is to fix the over- or under-staffed conditions. Shrinkage rates are all over the map, but on average, somewhere between 20% and 30%. The list of shrinkage events is long and there are multiple categories: absenteeism, training, meetings, breaks, vacation, illness, systems downtime, call-backs, etc.  Shrinkage (both planned and un-planned) is almost anything that interferes with consistent optimal utilization. Vacations, for example, are planned or scheduled shrinkage and sick days are not. Both, however, result in an understaffing condition that must be addressed to maintain acceptable levels of customer service. Unscheduled, unplanned cause greater heartburn for management, but both can be problematic in the quest for satisfactory service level. It is rare, after all, when actual scheduled shrinkage maps perfectly to the staffing needs of the day.

Shrinkage Can Get Expensive
And quickly. Like everything impacting service level, shrinkage costs are substantial, because your agents are often getting paid while not handling customer service contacts. Call Centre Helper informs us that as shown by their “UK-based benchmarking in the last 12 months, only 42% of an agent’s time is actually spent doing what we really want them to be doing – talking to customers!” If you’re paying agents $14.00 per hour for an eight-hour day and they are productive for only 47% of that time, you’re actually paying them over $33.00 per hour. As they say, “Nice work, if you can get it.” No wonder contact centers are viewed as giant cost centers.

Shrinkage Can Be Shrunk
Paid or unpaid, shrinkage is inevitable. Much of it, however, can be reduced and effectively managed with WorkFlex. Here’s how:

  • Shrinkage due to absenteeism
    – WorkFlex, in most cases, eliminates the need for agents to skip out on work for something they need to take care of in their personal life. Using the WorkFlex agent mobile app, agents can adjust their schedule as needed. For example, if a personal matter comes up in the morning before work and an agent absolutely must address it, the mobile app enables the following:
    – The ability to trade time intervals with another agent (e.g., one who is currently on shift and can stay on longer)
    – The ability to swap time with him/herself (If the agent needs two hours to attend to the personal matter, the two hours can be made up at another time)
  • Shrinkage due to training
    – WorkFlex. permits agents to self-schedule training during under-staffed intervals. WorkFlex does not force agents into training; it simply shows them when they can choose to do training.  Company policy dictates that agents complete “X” number of training hours per month, but WorkFlex gives them the freedom to decide when.
  • Shrinkage due to breaks
    – WorkFlex helps reduce and often eliminate the tendency of some agents to turn 15-minute breaks into 30-minute breaks. WorkFlex can send a real-time alert to the agents’ smartphone to  notify them of their tardiness. The message also gets sent to their station, so they see it when they return, if they don’t have the smartphone with them on break. Their supervisor can be  notified simultaneously. It generally takes only a short time for the agents to begin embracing schedule adherence.
  • Shrinkage due to vacation
    – WorkFlex can help manage any staffing shortfall, even one occurring due to pre-scheduled vacations. Workforce administrators take vacations into account as they forecast a contact center’s schedule for future weeks or months. Instead of assigning overtime to other agents to cover for vacationers, however, they can simply make the vacation hours available to agents in the WorkFlex mobile app and allow them to select hours as they like. If agents do not fill all time intervals on their own, WorkFlex can be configured to send out a request to all eligible agents to fill in during understaffed intervals.

These are a few key areas where WorkFlex reduces shrinkage, and rather than creating a lengthier list, we propose that WorkFlex can help address most shrinkage-based staffing problems. Cost reduction for companies accompanies shrinkage reduction. One Study from 2010 (page 19) indicates that, “based on industry average calculations, just reducing secondary loss by 2% could equate to a $600,000 saving for a 1,000-agent organization”!**

Contact center shrinkage – planned and unplanned – is inevitable, yes, but it can be pared down to more manageable levels with WorkFlex technology.

Learn more about WorkFlex. You can watch a short video here, and you can contact us here.

-Maya Callahan

* We recognize and acknowledge that there are differences of opinion in the industry about how exactly to define shrinkage and that we have taken a broad view in this post.
**In this study, “secondary” refers to these activities: “training, team meetings, coaching, projects, paperwork, call research, knowledge base, email, call backs.”

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