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The Importance of Shrinkage

Understanding the factors that make up shrinkage - or non-productive time - in your contact center operation is vital.

While the specific shrinkage factors can vary based on the organization and its policies, there are some shrinkage factors that are common and should be considered across all contact center operations.


10 Common Shrinkage Factors


1. Breaks and Lunch

Scheduled breaks and lunch periods during which agents are not available to handle customer interactions. This includes rest breaks, meal breaks, and any additional breaks mandated by labor laws or company policies.


2. Meetings and Trainings

Time spent by agents attending team meetings, departmental meetings, training sessions, coaching sessions, or performance reviews. This includes both scheduled and ad hoc meetings or training sessions.


3. Administrative Tasks

Time spent on administrative activities such as data entry, updating customer records, processing paperwork, completing forms, or handling email correspondence. These tasks are essential but not directly related to handling customer interactions.


4. System Downtime

Unplanned or scheduled system outages, maintenance periods, or technical issues that render agents unable to access the necessary tools or systems for handling customer interactions.


5. Personal Time

Unscheduled non-productive time taken by agents for personal reasons, such as restroom breaks, personal calls, or emergencies.


6. Adherence to Schedule

The variance between the scheduled shift and the actual time an agent starts or ends their shift, including late arrivals, early departures, or extended breaks.


7. Paid Time Off (PTO)

Vacation days, personal days, or other approved time off requested by agents, which results in them being unavailable for handling customer interactions.


8. Absenteeism

Unscheduled time off due to illness, family emergencies, or other unforeseen circumstances that lead to agents being absent from work.


9. Co-worker Support

Time spent by agents assisting or supporting their colleagues, such as shadowing new hires, mentoring, or providing guidance.


10. Non-Contact Activities

Activities that do not involve directly handling customer interactions, such as outbound calls, research, or project work assigned by the organization.


Why is it so important to understand shrinkage factors?


Resource Planning and Staffing

Shrinkage refers to the time when agents are not available to handle customer interactions due to various non-productive activities, such as breaks, meetings, training, or administrative tasks. By comprehensively understanding these factors, you can accurately account for shrinkage when planning your resources and staffing levels. It allows you to determine the number of agents needed to achieve service level targets, considering both productive and non-productive time, and avoid overstaffing or understaffing situations.


Service Level Management

Shrinkage has a direct impact on service levels. If you don't account for non-productive time accurately, you risk insufficient staffing during peak periods, leading to increased wait times and lower customer satisfaction. By understanding all the factors that contribute to shrinkage, you can make informed decisions to minimize its impact on service levels. You can adjust agent schedules, optimize break periods, or implement efficient meeting and training strategies to maintain desired service levels.


Efficiency and Productivity Analysis

Analyzing shrinkage factors provides valuable insights into the efficiency and productivity of your contact center operation. By identifying the main contributors to non-productive time, such as excessive meeting durations or administrative tasks, you can implement process improvements or automation initiatives to streamline operations and maximize agent productivity. This analysis helps you identify areas of improvement, eliminate unnecessary activities, and optimize resource utilization.


Performance Management and Coaching

Understanding shrinkage factors enables you to assess individual agent performance more accurately. By monitoring and analyzing non-productive time, you can identify agents who consistently have high shrinkage or who struggle with time management. This information helps in targeted performance management and coaching interventions to improve productivity and reduce shrinkage. By addressing specific areas of non-productive time, you can help agents become more efficient, resulting in improved overall operational performance.

Cost Optimization

Shrinkage directly impacts costs in a contact center. Non-productive time represents paid hours where agents are not handling customer interactions. By gaining a thorough understanding of shrinkage factors, you can identify areas where unnecessary costs are incurred and implement strategies to minimize them. For example, by optimizing break and lunch schedules, reducing meeting durations, or leveraging technology for administrative tasks, you can effectively manage costs and maximize operational efficiency.


Forecasting and Workforce Management

Accurate forecasting and effective workforce management depend on a comprehensive understanding of shrinkage. By considering all the factors contributing to non-productive time, you can refine your forecasting models and create more accurate schedules. This ensures that you have the right number of agents available during peak and non-peak periods, resulting in improved service levels, minimized wait times, and enhanced customer satisfaction.



Understanding the factors that make up non-productive time in your contact center operation is crucial. It allows you to make informed decisions, improve productivity, and deliver exceptional customer experiences while maximizing operational efficiency.



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