Top Workforce Shrinkage Offenders

When call center agents aren’t on the phones resolving customer issues and promoting your brand, they are busy with a whole host of other activities referred to as shrinkage.  Knowlagent recently conducted a survey of more than 100 industry leaders – across all types of call centers – to find out what activities make up shrinkage in their centers.

According to the study, the average amount of an agent’s time spent in shrinkage is around 24%, or roughly one fourth of the work day.

By types of calls handled, collections agents spend the highest percentage of their time in shrinkage at 26%, while technical support agents had the lowest at 21%. By industry, call center outsourcers reported the lowest percentage of agent time spent in shrinkage at just under 20%.

When asked which activities contributed most to shrinkage (not counting unavoidable shrinkage), the biggest contributors were training, after-call work, team meetings, one-on-one coaching and projects.

Other of these avoidable shrinkage contributors cited included paperwork, research, knowledge base reviews, internal e-mail reviews and call backs.

Contribution to shrinkage also varied by industry. According to the survey, outsourcers deal with more absenteeism (37%) than other industries, while retail and telecom have more call follow-up, for example. Financial services and healthcare have more projects that contribute to shrinkage, where call backs are most frequent in telecom. Knowledge base reviews are higher than average for financial services, but lower than average for healthcare.

There were a few differences in the breakdown of shrinkage activities among centers handling different types of contacts. Training comprises a larger portion of shrinkage for collections centers at 12%. For call centers with sales, 16% of shrinkage is spent in call follow-up and research. Paperwork is more time-consuming for sales and tech support, at 13% and 12% respectively. While collections handles the least amount of paperwork at 7%, these centers also have a higher percentage of call backs (10%), as might be expected given the nature of the work.

When agents are off the phones, they are mostly involved in activities related to training, coaching, team meetings, after-call work and projects.  A new white paper, Top Shrinkage Offenders from Knowlagent discusses what you can do about shrinkage.


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