How to Calculate Call Center Outsourcing Costs

by Amy Bennet in Amy Bennet, Contact Center Budgeting

So you’ve been handed responsibility for investigating the benefits of potentially outsourcing your company’s customer service for the first time. How do you start to compare your in-house apples to those outsourced oranges? What math should go into the business case around call center outsourcing costs?

(And if math isn’t your strong suit, skip this read and contact us today for a cost analysis of your center!)

Let’s break it down to the basics.

1. Understanding an “agent hour.” 
In-house, you are paying for 100% of an agent hour. In an outsourced model, typically, you are paying only for productive agent time.

You aren’t paying for an agent to be waiting for a call. You aren’t paying for coffee breaks or even coaching time. Generally speaking, you could expect a call center agent to be productive for 85% of an hour.

Let’s take a real life example. A Level One Tech Support Agent working in Dallas, Texas will cost his employer about $30USD per hour, loaded. As his employer, you pay 100% of that hour. With an outsourced call center model, using a productivity projection of 85%, that same agent will cost you $25.50 per hour. A savings of 15% right off the top. Before we even get to the good stuff.

2. Realizing a reduction in FTE. 
Successful contact center outsourcers have deep expertise in forecasting, staffing, and managing for maximum efficiency. In addition, a great contact center partner will:

    • Offer leading-edge call center technology for efficient call distribution,
    • Manage time-shiftable tasks for maximum efficiency,
    • Cross-train to maximize efficient staffing for peaks and valleys,
    • Utilize shared pool options for lower volume hours of operations.

And the over-all result will be a reduction in FTE with no loss of service or quality. When calculating call center outsourcing costs for your business case, it is generally safe to assume, you will realize at least a 5% reduction in FTE.

3.  Understanding “All-In.”  

The per agent hour rate your contact partner charges typically includes associated management costs. In a Blue Ocean solution, for example, your coaches and project management costs are included in that agent hour or per minute rate.

On-going technology costs are also generally included. In fact, we often see companies choosing to outsource when the need arises to invest in a new or existing technology platform. Essentially, this represents risk mitigation. In a call center outsourcing model, your partner is shouldering the risks of managing both human and technology resources.

This table gives a quick snapshot of how to calculate costs when considering an outsourced customer service solution.

Basic Comparison Chart for Calculating Call Center Outsourcing Costs

  In-House Call Center Outsourced Call Center

Productive Agent Time

100% 100%

Non-Productive Agent Time:

  • Breaks
  • Coaching
  • Wait time
100% 0%

Supervisor/Manager for Customer Service Agents

100% Included in agent hourly rate

Quality Assurance

100% Included in agent hourly rate


  • Workstations/IT support
  • Telephony
  • Facilities
100% Included in agent hourly rate

HR Support including:

  • Recruiting
  • Payroll
  • Benefits Management
100% Included in agent hourly rate


Using the basic calculation of call center outsourcing costs, you will have the foundation for a more rigid business case, but that’s just the starting point in how to choose the best outsourced contact center for your business.

Still looking for some guidance on the math? We’re here to help –  request pricing and start calculating your call center outsourcing costs today.


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