Managing and reducing costs for your outbound call center seems like a business fundamental. But as an owner or manager, you have a lot to juggle—from hiring and training to managing data and driving sales to supporting compliance.
The answer to what’s driving up costs for your outbound lead generation and sales call center can often be obscured by a focus on driving more lead conversions and more sales.
If you want to be profitable, however, you can’t lose sight of your costs. There are three primary call center costs that should occupy the minds of owners and managers striving for efficiency:
There are three primary call center costs that occupy the minds of owners and managers striving for efficiency:
In this guide, we look at what can cause these expenses to grow out of control and offer call center cost savings ideas to improve performance and efficiency.
Outbound Call Center Costs: PAYROLL
Pretty obvious, right? Lead gen call centers have a staff of agents and managers who are the engine of their outbound efforts. Payroll is, in a sense, the fuel for that engine.
What’s sometimes less obvious, though, is how you can add a new level of efficiency to your payroll.
Too many call center owners and managers don’t quite realize the real, costly impact of lost agent time.
Every second that passes while your agents aren’t connecting with or converting a prospect is time that your payroll isn’t producing revenue. In other words, it’s not just your agents that are being unproductive—it’s your payroll, too.
Save on Payroll with Robust Reporting
To be as efficient and effective as you can with the payroll that you have, you need to track metrics around your agents’ ongoing activities.
Without visibility into all the action taking place on your call center’s sales floor—or spread all the way across your virtual call center—you won’t know what your payroll is actually delivering for your organization. You’ll be left with only your top-line numbers and without the performance data insights that contextualize it.
So, if you’re going to make the most out of your payroll, robust reporting capabilities are absolutely essential.
Call center expert and consultant Heather Griffin says that ideally you have data analytics that empower you with two kinds of visibility: “You’re going to need reporting in real time, so you can catch [bad and inefficient agent behavior] as it’s happening. And you’re going to do it historically so you can go back and coach those behaviors.”
Tracking agent performance in real time
With the right real-time reporting, call center managers can see what’s working for them as it happens. A customizable dashboard can pull in all the performance metrics you want to track, such as which agents are working the phones, talking to customers, and generating revenue. With the right KPIs in your dashboard, you’ll see in real time what your costs are, who’s being effective, and what options you have for improving productivity.
Monitoring agent performance empowers call center managers to take action that positively impacts their efficiency—and, in turn, makes the most of their payroll. According to Griffin:
“The question is not just what can you see, but what can you DO? For example, if I see someone sitting on a dead call, I can enter in and ask them what’s going on, I can listen in on the call to hear what they’re doing. I can send them a message, or I can log them out. So, if I see costly behavior as it’s happening, I’ve got numerous different ways to stop that behavior immediately.”
How historical reporting helps manage payroll costs
Leaders also need to take a broader view of performance. Whether it’s reviewing the individual agent or the whole team, historical reports can help managers identify their teams’ strengths and weaknesses and plan for the future.
Historical data—whether it’s a day, week, or month—helps identify areas where you can coach your call center agents. It also indicates shortcomings with the data or dialer.
Griffin recommends arming yourself with reports on these four time-based metrics to get a sense of how you can improve performance:
- Talk time
- Wait time
- Pause time
- Wrap-up time
“I always look at these times like a pie chart. Talk time tells you their sales ability. Wait time will tell you about how good your dialer manager is, as well as how good your data supply is. The lower your wait time, the better. The higher your talk time, the better. Meanwhile, pause and wrap-up times usually reflect an employee behavior issue.”
Outbound Call Center Costs: LEAD DATA
Do you ask yourself whether you’re being effective with the money you’re spending on marketing?
When it comes to managing your outbound call center costs around data, or the leads you purchase, you should be. With the right reporting in your toolset, you’ll know what actions to take based on the dialing metrics you’re tracking.
Getting prospects on the line who are interested in your product or service is crucial to growing your business. And, it’s expensive — whether you’re purchasing legal and compliant leads, or generating your own marketing data.
For most outbound call centers, generating and purchasing this data adds up to the largest cost after payroll.
To reduce lead costs, analyze them by source
Nothing hurts more than seeing costly leads squandered due to low contact rates. Who wants to pay for data that you aren’t even reaching?
Data analytics can help managers understand the profit and loss of individual lists and lead sources so they can dial more strategically. If a list is underperforming, they can simply turn it off and focus on the lists that are driving good returns.
Look for the right reporting capabilities in your dialer, such as Convoso’s List Conversion Report, to help you determine your operation’s true cost per acquisition (CPA) within specific sets of dialing data.
“The best in class contact centers focus on their cost per acquisition at a lead vendor level, and how much revenue comes out of those leads. Your agents, your leads, and the cost of the dialer are the major numbers in determining your cost per acquisition. When you break that down on a lead source level, you know what the ROI is on an hourly basis by both agent and lead source.” – Nima Hakimi, Convoso CEO & Co-Founder.
Dial smarter, not harder
Since leads are one of your biggest expenses, you need to shift away from a mindset of continuously buying more leads and then dialing them over and over. As Hakimi puts it:
“Buying more and more leads is NOT going to solve your problems. You’ll hit a wall and you won’t catch up as new leads get stuck and you’re just dialing the old ones. It becomes a big mess.”
Rather than overdialing leads, implement smart dialing strategies:
- Start with speed to lead: Contact more leads by prioritizing your warmest leads first and getting to them quickly with a dialer that delivers speed to lead.
- Automate recycling and redialing: Vary your cadence and approach according to the type of data you’re calling. Rely on workflow automation tools to take the task of calling leads at the exact right time out of the hands of agents.
- Use an omnichannel approach: Support your call cadences with nurturing emails and texts. A conversational AI-powered intelligent virtual agent software can even write your texts and hold customer conversations for you, boosting your efficiency.
Outbound Call Center Costs: COMPLIANCE
The third biggest cost for many call centers nowadays is compliance. With new and changing regulations arising on such a continual basis, it’s important for call center owners and managers to equip their operations with the strategies and tools that can help them avoid the steep penalties that come with the cost of compliance.
Ever since the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, carriers have been empowered to crackdown on robocalls and unwanted spam. Unfortunately, that’s meant that many contact centers have gotten caught up in their web, with their calls being blocked or flagged—even when they’re just calling customers that have requested to be contacted.
Meanwhile, state legislatures have stepped up their own regulatory actions. In the absence of uniform federal guidelines, these states have effectively created a patchwork of differing guidelines. Not only are they hard to keep up with, but they’re strict and come with steep potential penalties, too.
To manage the costs of supporting compliance—and avoid the potential costs and harm of non-compliance—you need to have the right tools at your disposal.
Caller ID (DID) Management
Smarter dialing strategies and an omnichannel approach can help you stop overdialing and avoid some of the call flagging issues in the first place. But in today’s environment, even that’s not enough to manage costs and performance.
You also need to have visibility into the health of your contact center’s caller IDs. Because if you’re not dialing with clean numbers, your contact rates and conversions are going to suffer. And your biggest costs are going to steadily increase.
Best practices in caller ID management include scrubbing your lists against do not call (DNC) lists as part of a dialing strategy to obtain express written consent.
Advanced caller ID reputation management solutions can automatically scan all of your numbers and show which of your numbers are being flagged or blocked by which carriers. A platform like Convoso’s ClearCallerID™ helps managers make quick, informed decisions about which of their caller IDs to rest and which of their dialing strategies to adjust.
The result: higher contact rates and reduced call center costs.
Once you take steps to boost your contact rate and ensure that you’re reaching more of your data—and keeping the agents on your payroll productive—your contact center needs solutions to eliminate the errors that lead to lost sales.
In a survey by Balto, 66% of surveyed agents reported that the primary reason they make mistakes on a call is simple human error. With so much on the line in the realm of compliance, it’s critical for managers to provide their teams with the technology that helps lower the risk of non-compliant behavior on calls.
Dynamic scripting is one such tool that’s indispensable in keeping agents on message, while also supporting compliant conversations. By delivering a script to your agent that’s tailored to the specific customer and market they are calling in, you can help make sure that your agents account for nuances in regulations that govern their conversations.
Circling back to those other big costs for call centers, dynamic scripting can help managers reduce onboarding costs and simplify coaching and training.
Tackling Your Biggest Costs with Today’s Best Outbound Call Center Solutions
In a call center world that’s densely populated with autodialer software options as well as standalone software integrations, not all solutions are created equally.
When you’re looking to manage and reduce the biggest costs at your call center, it’s important that you have software on your side that can do it all, combining the responsive reporting, automation, and compliance support discussed above.
Heather Griffin has a wealth of outbound call center experience, as a call center owner, senior executive, and sought after expert consultant. She has tried out many dialers in her career. Here’s what she had to say about Convoso as an outbound call center software solution:
“Convoso’s state of the art automation, efficiency, and compliance support helps me manage the three biggest costs in my call center: payroll, data, and compliance. Long gone are the days of even having to analyze my costs. Convoso tells me [what I need] before there are costs—it saves me money before there’s even an added cost.”
To learn more about how Convoso can help you efficiently manage your outbound call center costs and improve profitability, request a demo.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this page, and related links, is provided for general education purposes only and is not legal advice. Convoso does not guarantee the accuracy or appropriateness of this information to your situation. You are solely responsible for using Convoso’s services in a legally compliant way and should consult your legal counsel for compliance advice. Any quotes are solely the views of the quoted person and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Convoso.