In the last years, one of the growing trends in managing labor resources is outsourcing and outstaffing the non-core functions of the business. Call centers are among departments that are outsourced most often. This allows meeting the requirements for a specific project as much as possible – include the necessary services, maintain the required work rate and schedule while keeping call center outsourcing costs to a reasonable minimum. How much does it cost to outsource a call center? Let us review the factors that influence pricing.
Components of the Call Center Outsourcing Cost
Outsourced call center costs are made up of the following items:
- Recruiting costs, recruiters’ payments;
- Employee training;
- IT infrastructure expenses;
- Incoming info analytics;
- Agents’ payments;
- Maintaining administrative resources;
- Office rent and technical needs.
Outsourcing customer service cost also depends on whether there is a team ready to take a project on right away or will it be created anew according to specific requirements? In the second case, an initial preparatory stage is needed, during which the suitable staff is being recruited. Recruitment can take anywhere from one to four weeks and all the while recruiter activity is paid extra. Also, the cost will include equipment or other resources that are not available in the call center at the time of contract conclusion. Up to two weeks may be spent on training the recruited staff, explaining to people the task at hand and operation protocols. That is, in general, it may take about four to five weeks to start working in a stable mode.
How Many Agents an Outsourced Call Center Does Require?
How to calculate the needed number of employees? This topic is closely interrelated with the daily amount of work (the projected amount of calls) and the approximate average duration of one call. The calculation should also include information on how long it will take to serve the average appeal. The simplest formula is as follows: estimated user base or the number of contacts in the database is multiplied by the average call duration and the estimated time intervals between calls are added to the resulting number. Thus we get an estimation of the expected work duration in man-hours. Next, this number is divided by a legal working day duration in a given country to predict a number of agents the team should have since the start. And, of course, if we are speaking about 24/7 service, you would need more than a single team, depending on the local legislation.
It should be noted that if the project involves fewer people, each of whom performs a greater workload, then the cost of working time of each employee would be higher as compared to a case when there are more agents in the call center with a lesser workload.
Of course, this calculation should be done separately for the shared and dedicated agents. If the project assumes that staff only serves the incoming calls, then it makes sense to have shared agents that are engaged to other projects in the absence of calls. This allows paying only for the actual hours or minutes worked.
The Call Center Staff Payment Models
The typical outsourced call center pricing is based mainly on taxing the actual working time of the employees – that is, the exact people who are on the phone, making the outbound calls and receiving inbound.
The usual outsourcing call center pricing is rated per full hour of conversation or online chat. Sometimes, per second or per minute billing is applied but this is rather an exception. Moreover, an hour of work is not an astronomical hour spent by a person in the workplace as some agencies propose an option of hiring the freelance agents that perform their duties from home or coworking. This eliminates the need for office as such additionally reducing costs.
Factors Determining a Call Center Employee’s Payment
There are a number of points that affect what rates for a minute of conversation are appropriate for a particular employee:
- Language of communication. Conversations in the native language of the employee are paid at maximal rates (for instance, the rate for accepting calls in English for dedicated natively English speaking agents averages at $20-30 per hour). Of course, assuming that said agent has great speaking skills and knowledge of the applicated area. If we are talking about foreign (for a given country) language, then the price depends on the demand for the language and staff member’s proficiency with it. The most popular languages are English and French, while the highest paid and thought for are Scandinavian language carriers. The possession of a complex or rare language (for example, Chinese) in addition to local is also paid extra.
- Scope of work. For large customers and when ordering for a large number of work hours during negotiations, the price is usually reduced – the discounts can come as high as 30%.
- Calling direction. There are payments for serving incoming calls (customer support) and making outgoing (“cold calls”) – usually, the pricing for the latter is 15-20 percent higher than the former.
- Duration of calls. Sometimes the length of the call is important – long calls are paid extra. If the calls are outgoing and associated with sales, then a mixed payment system can be applied: a percentage of the sales amount is added to the agent’s hourly or minute rate.
- Country of origin. Different countries have different standards of living and average salaries. Accordingly, outsourced call center pricing also varies. Thus, compared to Asian countries, outsourcing in Eastern Europe is slightly more expensive, and prices in the USA and Western Europe are approximately equal.
|Country||Hourly rate, $|
|US and Canada||22 – 35|
|Eastern Europe and Russia||12 – 25|
|Australia||35 – 55|
|The Middle East and Africa||15 – 20|
|South America||8 – 18|
|South Eastern Asia||8 – 14|
|India||6 – 12|
Factors Influencing the Call Center Services Pricing
Call center outsourcing costs may include not only the reimbursement of agents’ work but also project managers, coaches, technical support specialists, and foreign language teachers. The structure of staff may vary. Their work on the project is charged separately but if such an employee works only as needed on different projects, the company can pay them money from the amount pledged to the work of the operators. That is, call center outsourcing cost implies the work of additional personnel and their payments are included in the calculation.
The call center outsourcing cost can be bundled or calculated according to one of the tariff plans. The final price for a package of services depends on the mode of operation (around the clock or during the official working day), the time zone in which the outsourced call center is situated, agent rates, etc.
Pricing for service may increase during periods of more active work, for example, before holidays.
Sometimes it is appropriate to install a bonus system in addition to the agreed payments: to provide faster project implementation, exceed the sales plan, etc. Fines can be established to ensure deadlines and service quality.