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What is shrinkage in a call center


Shrinkage in a call center has nothing to do with physical proportions before you start visualizing call center agents unexpectedly shrinking in size (like something out of a sci-fi movie).


Instead, the key is to comprehend the interesting field of workforce management and the variables that influence the number of workers available to answer client calls. It's time to learn the truth about this fascinating phenomenon and how shrinkage in a call center affects customer service, so buckle up and get ready to learn all there is to know about shrinkage in a call center.

Call center shrinkage is the gap between the number of agents available to handle calls and the number of agents absent due to illness, after-hours work (ACW), after-hours meetings, or other reasons.

Shrinkage is one factor that affects how many agents you'll need to service your consumers, and staffing your call center involves more than just allocating an agent to each phone.

Call center shrinkage is calculated as the product of the number of agents actively servicing customers and the number of agents that are now unavailable.

It's the time discrepancy between what you pay customer service personnel to do and what they actually do. The distinction between the two is shrinkage. You may keep track of how much time agents spend on activities other than providing customer assistance.

There are numerous other interpretations that are comparable throughout the industry. The following is how they explain call center shrinkage:

●       Anything that keeps a salesperson from taking care of clients, like scheduled or unexpected performance obligations

●       The things that prevent your agents from becoming productive

●       The discrepancy in the quantity of agents employed and those readily accessible to serve clients at any given moment.

It can be assessed in terms of the number of workers or lost hours, albeit the definition can vary from firm to company. It's a well-liked planning resource for determining how many agents to hire.

There are two categories of causes that contribute to shrinking.

What Consists of Call Center Shrinkage?

●       Meetings with the internal shrinkage team and one-on-ones are held.

●       Training and Coaching

●       Period of system downtime.

●       Unscheduled breaks for using the facilities.

●       Time spent serving different organizations.

Special initiatives and duties are completed.

Outside Shrinkage

●       Holidays.

●       leaving work late.

●       I'm sick.

●       Absenteeism (A term used to describe a person's absence).

●       Early departure.

Now that we've looked at the components that make up the call center shrinkage figure, let's move on to the section where we examine the crucial part of shrinkage.

Why is it crucial to calculate shrinkage?

To calculate shrinkage, use the call center shrinkage formula below. Decide your basic staffing needs first, taking into account the typical call volume at different times of the day or a transfer.

Use those figures to get the typical percentage of employees who would be unable to take calls during the break. Although this proportion may change, it typically ranges between 10% and 40%. The amount of jobs you can schedule is equal to your basic personnel demand divided by that number.

For instance, divide 160 by (1 minus 0.2), which equals 200, assuming you have 160 call center personnel working the day shift and a 20% shrinkage rate. You now know that the remaining 160 individuals could effectively cover the phones if 200 people were scheduled, but 20% of them were unable to accept calls for a variety of reasons.


This brings us to the crucial issue at hand: how can call center shrinkage be determined?

How can you figure up a call center shrinkage percentage?

Two formulas can be used to compute shrinkage: one to assess individual agent performance and the other to determine staffing needs. Let's examine both now.

Regarding the quantity of agents:

Calculation of call center shrinkage:


Assume that in order to meet your service level objectives, 100 agents are required to manage your call traffic in an hour. Due to the aforementioned factors, if 30 agents are unavailable to answer calls at any point in the hour, shrinkage will be: Shrinkage = (100/70) x 100 = 142.8

If your shrinkage is 30% as in the aforementioned example, you will need to hire 30% more agents—or in this case, 30 additional agents—to meet your SLAs.

However, the number of these 30 extra agents would decrease by 30%, requiring the hiring of nine extra agents. This will continue forever. This is one of the key arguments for utilizing the shrinkage formula rather than the shrinkage percentage to calculate the necessary staffing levels.

In order to meet your SLAs in an hour, 143 agents would be required after accounting for total shrinkage.

Use this calculation to determine the number of agents you'll require. When planning any campaigns that may need more employees, it will give you the ideal buffer you need.

According to hours:

Use the following formula to determine call center shrinkage for a certain agent's performance:

Example of Call Center Shrinkage Calculation

Bob oversees a group of 12 officers in a call center. He might have an agent out sick, another on leave, and yet another who hasn't shown up for work on any given day. Among those who have arrived, one is taking a break, and the others are at work. Eight agents are currently serving consumers as a result. So how can you calculate how much the four unavailable agents have shrunk?

To help you with the process, here is an example shrinkage calculator for call centers.

To calculate the overhead and shrinkage for your call center, you'll need the following data:

●       Hours required to work a full-time equivalent (FTE)

●       Annual total of days off

●       Overall, sick days per year

●       Complete legal holiday

●       Total days missed and additional days off

What proportion of shrinkage in a call center is considered acceptable?

You might be wondering what proportion of call center shrinkage is regarded as natural based on the formulas presented above. Of course, the response will differ by industry, but the call center sector's most commonly used percentage is between 30 and 35 percent.

The shrinking percentage is typically calculated over a 12-month period. Let's look at how it affects call center efficiency and how to lessen and control shrinkage.

How does shrinking affect the effectiveness of call centers?

Poor outcomes are indicated by a high shrinking rate. Longer wait and hold times, as well as decreased customer satisfaction, occur when agents are unable to help clients.

Although shrinkage is not a performance indicator, managers frequently use it to see whether general customer satisfaction may be raised. Too much shrinkage can cause other agents to work harder than necessary, which lowers productivity overall.

Managers can determine how many agents are needed to handle both inbound and outbound calls by calculating shrinkage. Managers consider shrinkage when aiming to meet established service goals.

To satisfy staffing needs and guarantee overall call center effectiveness, managers must monitor and manage this measure every day.


How do you lessen shrinkage?

Keep in mind the following two points to assist in lowering shrinkage in your call center:

To increase the accuracy of your forecast and timetable, include all activities in your calendar. Your prediction would be more accurate the more events you arrange.

Examples of this include the typical call length, after-hours activities, emails, chats, meetings, training, breaks, meals, and holidays.

Keep an eye on how effectively the agents adhere to their timetables and collaborate with them to adjust as necessary. To inform your team of any recurring adherences that need to be addressed for the upcoming time period, you can create monthly or weekly reports that you can share with them. They might have gotten out of line because they didn't take a break long enough or because a meeting lasted too long.

If you want your forecast and schedule to be as accurate as possible, you should include all of your activities in your calendar. Your prediction would become more accurate the more activities you planned ahead of time.

Examples of this include the average length of a conversation, activities that take place outside normal business hours, emails, online chats, meetings, training, breaks, lunches, and vacations.

Maintain a close watch on the degree to which the agents are able to stick to their schedules, and work closely with them to make any required adjustments. You can prepare reports on a weekly or monthly basis, which you can then distribute with your team in order to keep them apprised of any reoccurring compliance issues that will require attention during the subsequent time period. It's possible that they got out of hand because they didn't get a long enough break or because the meeting went on for too long.

You can also monitor adherence in real time with a modern workforce management solution, which makes it easier for you to solve any problems as they occur and get your agents back on track with your meticulously planned schedule.

Click here to contact us to find out how you can effectively monitor your agents and increase their efficiency.

How can shrinkage in the call center be managed?

Using cloud-based call center software or manually monitoring call center shrinkage are also options. This helps you identify when and where shrinkage happens and how to lessen it in your call center.

However, it's crucial to remember that some reasons for shrinkage cannot be prevented or controlled.

You might discover that shrinkage is highest between 10 am and 3 pm because that is when most meetings take place. Additionally, the weather affects shrinkage; for instance, in the winter, agents may decide to spend more time outside and may extend their break.

You should structure and design the office space appropriately to address this. It's possible for some teams or departments to significantly diminish. You can identify which procedures require improvement by analyzing this data.

Finding the reasons why employees prolong their breaks will help you improve staff adherence to the call center schedule.

In addition to taking the above actions, you can also apply cutting-edge technologies to minimize shrinking. These will help you keep up a strong plan for routine monitoring and shrinking reduction.


The rate of shrinkage at a call center can occasionally change, as was previously mentioned. The shrinkage rate must be consistently measured, reviewed, and decreased by decision-makers.

By developing a one-month shrinkage provision and contrasting the forecast with the actual results, shrinkage management must be continued. In order to lower the rate of shrinkage to 35%, they must also pinpoint the underlying causes and implement the appropriate countermeasures.

Overall, call center productivity and efficiency have a direct impact on the decline of call centers. However, there are still sporadic changes to the rate. To enhance the client experience and meet service goals, managers must measure and check the rate frequently. Maintaining a strong approach that emphasizes frequent internal and external shrinking hours is necessary.

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