How to Calculate Cost per Contact in the Call Center

Call Center | 2 minute read

There are many different call center metrics used to measure activity and efficiency. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, can be tracked through integrated phone systems and call center cloud-based technology.

These include metrics like customer satisfaction (CSat) score, average handle time (AHT), net promoter score (NPS), occupancy rate, average speed of answer (ASA), first call resolution (FCR), and more.

Different call centers might have different goals, and thus have different metrics to prioritize. But, there’s one metric that every call center needs to prioritize: cost per contact.

Why is cost per contact important?

Cost per contact determines how much a call center pays for a contact or call. Think of each individual customer interaction as a single unit of work. The lower the cost per contact, the more efficient your call center is.

Call center metrics are important for understanding where your call center can improve. Using KPIs help improve customer experience and satisfaction and agent efficiency while ensuring your operations are more cost-effective.

High cost per contact limits operational efficiency in your call center. That’s why it’s important to constantly measure efficiency through metrics to maximize efficiency.

How do you calculate cost per contact?

To calculate cost per contact, add up all operating expenses of a call center and divide it by the annual inbound contact volume of the contact center.

Examples of operating expenses for a call center include:

  • Employee salaries.
  • Overtime pay.
  • Bonuses.
  • Commissions and other incentive compensation.
  • Facilities costs.
  • Hardware and computers.
  • Office supplies and furniture.
  • Software licensing.
  • Travel.
  • Education and training.

It’s important to note that most call center expenses are in labor and personnel costs. Some call centers only factor the costs of employees in their calculations for cost per contact. Call centers that add up all expenses use fully loaded costs.

Inbound call volume is the total number of calls to the call center minus abandoned calls. But, contact volume for a contact center includes all contacts from:

  • Voice calls.
  • Emails.
  • Website messages.
  • Social media chat messages.
  • Faxes.
  • Walk-ins.

So, put simply:

Cost per contact = monthly operating costs/ (# of contacts or interactions per month- abandoned calls)

What is the ideal cost per contact for your contact center?

For contact centers that calculate only employee costs in their formulas, average costs per call range from $1.11 to $3.29 per 3-4 customer call. For contact centers using fully loaded costs, the cost per contact increases to about $2.70 to $5.60 per call.

You should aim for a cost per contact that’s close to or above the averages listed above.

Tools and tactics for reducing cost per contact.

Here are some strategies to reduce your cost per call or contact:

Call monitoring and recording: Real-time call monitoring and recording helps call centers identify areas for improvement in their agents’ call tactics. This reduces abandon rate and in turn, reduces cost per call or contact. Call monitoring also helps contact centers measure average call handle time, call duration, abandoned calls, and more.

Shift scheduling: Maintaining a strategic agent schedule can help reduce cost per contact. During peak times, make sure your most skilled agents are on the floor, or optimize part-time workers for peaks and valleys in call volume.

Quality education and training: Investing in employees from the first day can assure better performance. Call center agent training costs money, but it’s worth it because skilled agents reduce call time, improve customer service, and reduce cost per contact.

The Executive Guide to Improving 6 Call Center Metrics

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