Customer service agents learning about contact center shrinkage

What is contact center shrinkage and how to calculate it

How to calculate contact center shrinkage

As customer service managers, we constantly strive to optimize our contact center operations, ensuring that our teams are productive, efficient, and capable of delivering exceptional customer experiences. One crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed is contact center shrinkage. In this article, we will explore what shrinkage is, why it’s important to consider, and how to calculate it effectively. By understanding and accounting for shrinkage, you can enhance your resource planning and unlock operational efficiencies within your contact center.

What is contact center shrinkage?

Shrinkage refers to the time during which agents are not available to handle customer interactions, despite being scheduled to work. It includes various factors such as breaks, training sessions, team meetings, and any other activities that lead to agent unavailability. Shrinkage is inevitable and can significantly impact the overall operational efficiency of your contact center.

Why you should take shrinkage into consideration

While it may seem counterintuitive to account for agent unavailability, ignoring shrinkage can lead to inaccurate forecasting and resource allocation. By not factoring in shrinkage, you risk understaffing your contact center, resulting in increased wait times, frustrated customers, and overwhelmed agents. On the other hand, overstaffing can lead to unnecessary costs and idle agents, resulting in inefficient resource utilization. By understanding and calculating shrinkage accurately, you can strike the right balance, optimizing agent schedules and improving overall contact center performance.

Calculating shrinkage

To calculate shrinkage, you need to consider the following components:

Planned shrinkage

Planned shrinkage looks at all planned activities that take agents away from handling customer interactions. This includes breaks, lunches, team meetings, training sessions, and other scheduled events. To calculate planned shrinkage, divide the total time spent on planned activities by the total available agent hours.

Planned Shrinkage (%) = (Total Time Spent on Planned Activities / Total Available Agent Hours) x 100

Unplanned shrinkage

Unplanned shrinkage accounts for unexpected events that prevent agents from being available during their scheduled working hours. This can include sickness, emergencies, technical issues, or other unforeseen circumstances. Unplanned shrinkage is typically measured using historical data, such as absenteeism rates or system downtime. To calculate unplanned shrinkage, divide the total time lost due to unplanned events by the total available agent hours.

Unplanned Shrinkage (%) = (Total Time Lost due to Unplanned Events / Total Available Agent Hours) x 100

Overall shrinkage

To determine the overall shrinkage, simply add the planned and unplanned shrinkage percentages together.

Overall Shrinkage (%) = Planned Shrinkage (%) + Unplanned Shrinkage (%)

Utilizing shrinkage for resource planning

Once you have calculated the shrinkage percentage, you can incorporate it into your resource planning process. By adjusting your forecasts and schedules to account for shrinkage, you can ensure that you have the right number of agents available to handle customer interactions efficiently. Taking shrinkage into consideration empowers you to optimize staffing levels, balance workload distribution, and proactively address agent unavailability, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and agent engagement.

Additional considerations

While calculating shrinkage is crucial, it’s important to remember that shrinkage percentages can vary across different contact centers and industries. Factors such as the type of business, customer demand patterns, and service level agreements can influence shrinkage levels. Regularly monitoring and analyzing shrinkage trends within your contact center can help you identify areas for improvement and make informed operational decisions.


Contact center shrinkage plays a vital role in resource planning and optimizing operational efficiency. By understanding what shrinkage is, why it’s important, and how to calculate it accurately, customer service managers can unlock the true potential of their contact centers. Taking shrinkage into account empowers you to make data-driven decisions, ensure appropriate staffing levels, and provide exceptional customer experiences. By considering shrinkage, you are one step closer to achieving operational excellence and delivering outstanding service to your valued customers.

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