What Is Call Center Outsourcing?
To put it simply, call center outsourcing is the process of employing a service provider to manage call center functions for a business. The service provider may be based in the same country (domestic outsourcing) or they may be based outside the country (offshore outsourcing).
How much of your call center operations you outsource is up to you. Some businesses want nothing more than general customer support or sales calls. Others give the service provider majority control, allowing them to hire and train workers and manage daily operations.
Advantages of Call Center Outsourcing
The purpose of call center outsourcing is to help your business and take some of the extra work that comes with running a company off your shoulders. Some of the benefits of call center outsourcing include:
- 24/7 customer support: On your own, it is difficult and costly to provide constant access to customer support. Luckily, many call center agencies operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, giving your customers the support they need whenever they need it.
- Access to trained specialists: Staffing your own in-house call center is a time-consuming and often difficult process. Once you’ve hired a team, they must be trained, with another few weeks left after training before they really have everything nailed down. Outsourcing gives you access to a team that has already been trained in all the necessary processes, with the experience and knowledge that your business needs.
- Cost reduction: Running an in-house call center comes with hiring, training, and operational costs. By outsourcing, you eliminate these costs, paying only the agreed upon amount to your call center service provider.
- Customer satisfaction: Call center outsourcing allows you to offer your customers a higher degree of service. Internal teams may take hours or days to respond to customers, especially if they have other duties besides customer communication. But workers at a call center agency only have to worry about customer interactions, leaving the able to respond faster.
- Improved efficiency and productivity: Outsourcing leaves your in-house employees free to focus on the core aspects of their job and the business. With a team dedicated to customer contact needs and another dedicated to core business functions, the efficiency of your business and the productivity of your employees increase exponentially.
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What is the Cost of Call Center Outsourcing?
The cost of call center outsourcing is determined by a variety of factors, such as the duration of the application, type of work, location (domestic or offshore), skill level of the agency’s workers, and whether you need inbound or outbound services. That being said, what follows is a general pricing guideline to provide an idea of what you can expect to pay for call center outsourcing.
Inbound call center services have three main pricing structures.
- Dedicated: This is when a dedicated group of agents takes inbound calls exclusively for a single client. The average cost of dedicated inbound call center services is between $8 and $15 per hour for offshore agencies and between $22 and $28 per hour for domestic agencies.
- Monthly: This is basically the same as dedicated inbound call center services, with the exception being that clients are charged on a monthly basis instead of an hourly basis. While many international call centers employ this pricing method, it is uncommon to find in North America and Europe. Costs vary widely depending on your specific needs, from around $300 per month to tens of thousands for enterprise size businesses.
- Shared: Unlike dedicated inbound services, shared services are when a group of agents handle multiple clients. With shared services, you pay only for time used on a by-the-minute basis. The average cost of shared inbound call center services is between $0.35 and $0.45 per minute for offshore agencies and between $0.75 and $0.90 per minute for domestic agencies.
Outbound call center services are charged for through commission, by the hour, or a combination of the two.
- Commission: Call centers that perform lead generation or sales applications often charge on a commission based structure. Commission fees average between 10 percent and 20 percent over what the agency would charge on an hourly basis.
- Hourly: This is the standard way that outbound call centers charge for their services, with rates varying based on location. The average cost for a small, offshore agency is between $6 and $10 per hour, with larger offshore agencies costing between $9 and $14 per hour. The average cost for domestic agencies is between $22 and $32 per hour, though specialized agencies or services may cost between $35 and $50 per hour.
- Hourly plus commission: This pricing structure is similar to what many businesses pay in-house sales representatives. It often increases performance, as both parties now have something to gain with each sale. Prices vary from agency to agency and based on the needs of your business.
Beyond price, there are many factors that you need to consider before deciding on an outsourced call center. First, it is always better to own your phone number and email addresses. Services often offer to buy and set these up for you, but if you do it yourself it makes it easier to switch sellers if needed. It is important to have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), so that the seller can’t take what they learned with your business to a competitor.
You also need to be sure where your calls are being taken. This goes beyond just domestic or offshore outsourcing; many agencies have satellite locations in other parts of the country or world, so it is good to know if your calls are being sent to multiple locations.
Perhaps most importantly, keep in contact with your call center service. Once everything has been set up, it is easy to just move those operations to the back of your mind. But keeping in regular contact ensures that your agency changes and adapts with your changing needs.