Turning Downtime and Shrinkage into Increased Productivity

Humor me for a moment here and go through this exercise.  Stop everything and count to sixty.  No multi-tasking, no phone calls, no e-mails, just count to sixty.  Ready, go.  One thousand one. One thousand two… Sixty seconds of sitting still is painful, isn’t it?  Just think if you had that sort of unproductive wait time for 53 minutes every day.  Or up to 12,672 minutes per year.  What a waste! And how boring!  You just experienced less than 2% of the average call center agent’s daily wait time.  

I recently facilitated this activity at a company meeting at Knowlagent.  From that one minute of employees sitting, I lost $125.  If my employees all had unproductive time equivalent to call center agents, it would cost me $3,312.50 per day, $66k per month, $795k per year.

Next up: shrinkage. You have the types of things in shrinkage that are unavoidable like absenteeism, vacation, paid holidays, tardiness, breaks and lunch, but there are all these other things you schedule for in addition to call handling like training, team meetings, coaching, paperwork, call research, knowledge base, e-mail and call backs. These types of activities account for 12% of an agent’s time.

So, 12% of agent time is in shrinkage, and 11% of their time is spent just…waiting…

If you’re arriving at the conclusion that you could use that wait time productively to get some of these “other” activities done, you’re onto something called Active Wait.

Active Wait could be one of the few big productivity gains left in the call center. This is a $15 billion opportunity for improvement in our industry that uses time otherwise wasted. Taking advantage of it requires a few key criteria:

  1. The ability to dynamically respond to real-time call volume to find idle time and end these other tasks if call volume increases
  2. The power to find all those small 1 and 2-minute increments of time across all agents and aggregate them into usable periods of time for some agents to complete tasks
  3. The capacity to create an activity queue or a prioritized to-do list personalized for each agent

I challenge you to make the last minute spent reading this article immensely more productive than the first.

  • Assess the opportunity with shrinkage and wait time in your organization.
  • Find out how to use Active Wait

Matt McConnell is chairman, president and CEO of Knowlagent. When he isn’t in Active Wait mode, he can be reached at mmcconnell@knowlagent.com.