How to Calculate Your Cost per Inbound/Outbound Call, and Why Bother? 

Get to grips with what is a good cost per call rate

How to Calculate Your Cost per Inbound/Outbound Call and Why
Contact CentreInsights

Published: February 2, 2023

Rebekah Carter

One of the most effective ways to calculate a contact center’s profitability is by monitoring cost per call.

The single KPI helps service leaders quantify: costs associated with marketing programs, costs generated by upstream issues, and the types of queries driving the highest costs.  

Cost per call widely varies from site to site, and organizations that can conduct cost-per-call analysis may also pinpoint which locations are most profitable for the business.  

What Is Cost Per Call? Definition and Formula

Cost per call is a contact center metric that calculates the total costs – both OpEx and CapEx – a contact center spends handling a single customer call.

Businesses often try to lower the metric to reduce expenses. Nevertheless, many are wary of driving it down too low, as a high degree of cost-cutting – in regard to agent experience, technology, and infrastructure – will likely have a detrimental impact on customer experience.

To calculate the KPI over a given period, follow this formula:  

Cost Per Call = Total OpEx and CapEx Spend ÷ (Calls Offered – Calls Abandoned)

The equation is ideal for inbound contact centers but needs a little tweaking for outbound contact centers.  

Why? Because outbound contact centers often engage in sales and lead generation, where not every call will lead to customer acquisition or query resolution.

As such, many organizations choose to divide total business expenses by the number of leads/sales to reflect profitability more accurately.  

What Is a Good Cost Per Call?

Industry benchmarks suggest that an acceptable cost per call could range anywhere between $2.70 – $5.60, including “direct labor, indirect labor, and operational expenses.”

In many cases, cost per call can make up nearly half of the total cost of fulfilling an order.

But these numbers depend entirely on handling time, the telephony provider, agent skills, and the value each interaction generates. 

For example, a wealth management institution serving hundreds of customers every day may employ highly skilled agents with specific industry knowledge, driving up the costs. But when benchmarked against profitability per interaction (sales for outbound or customer lifetime value for inbound), this investment makes perfect sense.  

Similarly, companies with a small but loyal and high-value customer pool will likely have a higher-than-average cost per call.  

Why Should You Calculate the Metric?

Calculating cost per call over time is an excellent measure of overall organizational health. If, during a period, this metric spikes, digging into the reasons why is a valuable exercise to cut costs.

A steady rise  not counting anomalies or acts of god  is also a potential cause for concern and merits further investigation.  

Indeed, a steady eye on the metric can help anticipate business flux and prepare accordingly.  

Eager to cut contact center costs without impeding the agent experience? If so, check out our interview: Cut Contact Center Costs and Improve CX with AI




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