Operating a call center is essential to your business. Customers inevitably need to contact you to change settings on their accounts, make payments, or, unfortunately, make a complaint. You need to have a call center that is equipped to handle anything your customers throw at them.
How Much Does it Cost to Outsource a Contact Center? Top Questions to Ask Before Making the Move
Keeping things in-house
- The company hires, trains, and manages its call center staff
- You are responsible for all costs associated with the call center
With an in-house call center, you have direct control over how it operates. You can ensure the customer experience your call center is providing is up to your standards. However, the costs associated with operating an in-house call center are nothing to sniff at.
- Agent Salaries – average $28,000/year
- Manager Salaries – average $37,000/year
- Hardware/Software and their maintenance
- The company employs an external service provider, local or overseas, to operate and manage call center
- Costs associated with the call center are covered by the provider.
Most providers charge based on productive time but, this rate varies based on the skill level required of each agent. When you choose to outsource your contact center, you simplify budgeting and financial planning within your business. The costs of infrastructure, maintenance, and administration are incorporated in the fee agreed upon between you and BPO contact center.
However, you cannot directly oversee the call center staff’s day-to-day interactions. This leaves you at a disadvantage in your ability to ensure your customers are receiving the level of customer service you expect.
Should you outsource?
When deciding what type of call center you require, ask yourself the following questions.
What is the volume of inbound calls you expect to receive?
Consider the number of inbound calls you have per hour, per day, and per week. The higher this volume is, the more agents you will require. What is the “cost per contact”?
What skill level do you require?
Agents that field technical questions usually have more training or are more experienced and must be paid accordingly.
Skill level does not just extend to technical knowledge. Agents need to be versed in soft skills like empathy, active listening, and creativity if the customer experience is an important part of your business model.
The higher the skill level you require, the higher your cost per agent will be.
What is your average resolution time?
As mentioned previously, many outsourced call center providers charge a per-hour rate for productive time. The amount of time it takes from start to finish to meet your customer’s needs factors into your cost per contact.
Do you need 24/7 availability?
Products and services that need to be accessible 24/7 require you to have agents staffed at all hours. Consider whether or not 24/7 service is necessary or a luxury.
How important are customer experience and quality management?
Customer experience holds a lot of sway over your customer’s opinion on how your products and services stack up against the competition. A PwC survey of 15,000 customers found that 1 in 3 will go elsewhere after one bad experience.
Customer service starts with agents. Meeting agents where they are and finding out what prevents them from achieving their fullest potential is the first step in a good customer service strategy. Management can find out what is and, more importantly, what isn’t working in the call center. Ensuring agents are given the best tools to perform their job, from CRM systems down to their working environment, is the baseline.
Being able to directly oversee your agents in the call center allows you to finely tune your customer service team’s approach. You can utilize CSAT surveys to target areas of customer experience and provide skill-oriented training.
When you outsource the contact center you put quality management in the hands of an outside contractor. They are responsible for keeping agents informed, trained and happy. This may or may not align with your ideas of best practices for customer experience. While outsourcing your call center may cost less monetarily, you lose experientially.
In-house systems solutions
Several new and rising technologies provide in-house contact center solutions. These technologies leverage machine learning, AI, natural language processing (NLP), and are cost-effective. They reduce or simplify the customer service journey enabling agents to jump in when their uniquely human skills are required.
Conversational IVR systems
Conversational IVR takes on tasks that ease the pressure on your call center. IVR systems can gather information to effectively route calls to the correct specialist the first time. By choosing an IVR system that optimizes the self-service journey, you maintain elevated customer service as well as cut back on the amount of on-air time for your agents.
Contact centers are embracing the use of virtual agents that leverage artificial intelligence to interact with customers. Whether it be first-time interaction or routine, virtual agents take some of the rote work out of agents’ tasks. They can fill out forms, carry out transactions and even generate leads.
When comparing whether or not to outsource
The importance of customer experience in the call center is undeniable. By leveraging technology you can make sure the one you provide to your customers is top-notch as well as cost-efficient.