Getting a handle on periods of inefficiency within a call center is a paramount concern in the industry. Every minute that one of your agents is unavailable to field client concerns translates to loss of not only revenue, but of loyalty.
Shrinkage is the term used to describe the amount of time an agent is not on the phones. These can be break times, time of low call volume so on and so forth. Regardless, if an agent can be on a call and is not, your paying them for their inactivity.
Many companies underestimate the sheer volume of shrinkage that their workforce may be subjected to. However, improper call center scheduling and workforce management can leach thousands from a company . In a 30 agent call center, 20 minutes of down time per agent equates to 10 hours per day in shrinkage. If the agents are getting $12 per hour plus benefits, equaling $15 per hour, you would be losing $150 per day, $750 a week or $39,000 per year. That’s a lot more than most companies can afford in the current economic climate.
It is critical for a company to manage every minute of time that a rep has on the clock. While it’s impossible to totally eliminate shrinkage, reducing it can go a long way to help the call center’s bottom line. Workforce management software provider Monet prescribes three ways to get around the problem of shrinkage.
First is scheduling. Properly incorporating the flexible shift model in your call center will allow your top agents to be available when they’re needed, but will also allow you to cancel the shifts that add shrinkage. The second action is forecasting, which will allow call centers to predict when call volume will peak. This lets managers know in advance what kind of work force they will require on a specific day. While not always full-proof when used in conjunction with the flexible shift model, managers should never be shorthanded or overstaffed. Monitor rep scheduling adherence is the third way Monet recommends. By determining which employees are frequently late or which managers are absent have a better idea of who to populate the call center with.
Again it is not possible to recover all shrinkage, but if the call center in the example above reduced it from 20 to 10 minutes it would equal an annual savings of $20,000, not to mention the sales generated by more time on the phone. Better service levels and hopefully shorter call queues will also result from improved scheduling.
Chris DiMarco is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow him on Twitter (News - Alert) @cpdimarco.
Edited by Jamie Epstein