Many businesses I encounter use a ‘flat’ 35% shrinkage uplift when planning their resource requirements. It’s a big, and expensive, figure to add to the resourcing plan. Reducing this requirement will benefit the bottom-line of any organisation but often the risk of doing this seems too high for most people to stomach.  But maybe there is way to reduce shrinkage without putting service levels and occupancy levels at risk…

Anyone planning resources for contact centres is familiar with the concept of shrinkage: “a measure of how much time is lost as a result of things like bathroom breaks, call-backs, annual leave, sickness, paperwork, team meetings or training”.  It represents a cost to the business, but a necessary and expected one, and can be broadly split into three separate categories ;

Unavoidable or Contractual Shrinkage – These are the things that you HAVE to ensure that your staff have time for; breaks, lunches (if they are paid) and annual leave come into this category.  They are, as the heading suggests, unavoidable.

Absence Shrinkage – This includes short and long-term sickness and other types of leave such as compassionate leave or study leave.

Investment Shrinkage – This is the time that the business has set aside for the continual and ongoing development in their employees, as well as for communicating important messages to them.  The likes of training, coaching, 1-2-1’s, comms and huddles fall into this category.  Schedulers are often encumbered with the complex and thankless task of attempting to schedule this type of shrinkage into daily schedules well in advance and often find that their hard work can be quickly undone as the business look to respond to unexpected changes in demand on the day. ‘Investment shrinkage” usually accounts for around 10-15% of total shrinkage.

In addition to shrinkage, of course, the natural variability of demand and the inflexibility of shifts leads to periods of the day where your resource is not being fully utilised. This ‘quiet time’ provides those businesses who can identify it in a timely fashion with an opportunity to convert some of their shrinkage into additional productive time; turning it from a cost into a productivity improvement. This potentially reduces the amount of investment shrinkage that needs to be planned for when idle time during the day can be safely converted into training and coaching.

Real-Time Automation can help your business to proactively identify periods of the day when your staff is under-utilised and can help you to schedule some or all of your investment shrinkage into this time. Coaching and development sessions no longer take staff away from the front line but ensure that a greater percentage of the agent’s time in your business is spent productively, both in the short and long terms.  As a result, you can effectively reduce your planned investment shrinkage, save those costs and improve your productivity, without putting any customer experience at risk by threatening service levels, at the push of the same button.

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