Setting Appropriate Volume Rates in Call Centers

Standard

Setting rates for call center services is an art form based on resource costs and agent utilization rates. It is different than rate-setting for traditional telephone answering services because call lengths often vary widely. As those in the telephone answering services industry know all too well, pricing accurately to account for agent productivity and meeting financial margins is a challenging process. How do you set your rates for agent time and how will volume affect those rates?

Historically, answering service rates were based on a per call basis. Most people knew that the average answering service call lasted about 40 seconds and if you charged per call you could back into a large per minute rate by charging for inbound and outbound calls including no-answer calls. More and more people are now billing by time.

However, these rates are not realistic for large call center accounts. Answering service rates tend to be higher because the call volume is generally low. Most of your answering service clients do not generate enough call volume to affect your agent utilization rates. But when a large volume client with incoming calls at almost all times of the day enters the picture, per minute rates are cost prohibitive to that client. If these rates are presented to a potential large volume client, the client will have to decide between paying a higher rate per hour or open his own call center.

This is why, when setting rates for large volume clients, the per minute rate is often lower than it is for low volume accounts and answering service accounts. When you know the calls will be coming in consistently, an hourly rate not only makes sure your agent utilization rates are being met, but also ensures the potential client sees the value of outsourcing his contact center needs instead of keeping the work in-house.

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