Contact Center Economics 101: Staffing Smart = Bucks to the Bottom Line


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Do you know what your average cost per call is? If not, you should make the effort to compute it. It is a key metric because important decisions should take it into account, including staffing decisions.

Consider one center that had an abandon rate of 6.5%. With some discussion, research and effort, the following calculations were made:

Call Center EconomicsAverage cost per call: $6.34.
Average revenue per call: $93.00
Abandoned calls (annual): 123,000
Estimated lost revenue: $11,439,000
Related lost gross margin net of cost of call: $2,150,000

Most centers don’t think in these terms. However, by computing the costs of staffing to handle more calls against the revenue that could be gained by reducing or eliminating abandoned calls, management came to understand that they should staff for a negligible abandon rate. Plus, they had the numbers to show financial management why they needed and deserved more resources.

From this sort of realization can come excellent discussions on how to staff, e.g.:

  • add more full time people to the center
  • add more part time people for peaks
  • engage an outsourcer to manage any overflow calls
  • consider at-home agents to staff on a more flexible basis
  • if you have call center “alumni” who have transferred to other parts of your company, perhaps they be brought back into the center on occasion to help handle heavy loads

Other useful discussions can focus on how to shorten average handle times with better technology and training, and how to improve the user experience for self service (IVR, Website, Social Media), which can reduce call volumes while preserving, or enhancing, customer value.

Every manager should know his or her cost per call and related revenue per call, and then put that knowledge to work. You will be happy you did it. If you need help with the math, let us know!

Contact Center Economics 101” articles are written by Bruce Belfiore (Harvard MBA) to spotlight practical opportunities for financial improvement of contact center operations. For comments on this article, Bruce may be contacted at [email protected].

Bruce Belfiore
Bruce Belfiore is Senior Research Executive and CEO of BenchmarkPortal, custodian of the world's largest database of contact center metrics. He hosts the monthly online radio show "CallTalk" and is chancellor of The College of Call Center Excellence. He has consulted for many Fortune 1000 companies, helping them to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their customer contact operations.


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