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Cost of building an inbound call center

One SearchCRM.com reader asks, "What are the parameters I should take into account to calculate the total cost of a call center?" Read Lori Bocklund's advice here.

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I work at an insurance company and we want to build an inbound call center. What are the parameters I should take into account to calculate the total cost of a call center?
The total cost to build an inbound call center can include many elements:

  • Technology – voice and data networks, wiring, and systems (including CRM, PBX/ACD, interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration (CTI), quality monitoring (QM), workforce management (WFO), knowledge management (KM), desktop PCs, etc.) and all the associated planning, implementation, design, development, integration, and testing costs
  • Staffing – Labor costs for customer service reps (CSRs), supervisors, managers, support staff for operations, support staff for other areas such as HR, IT, etc. (which may be direct costs or charge-backs)
  • Costs to acquire and prepare staff – hiring, training
  • Facilities/real estate – including furniture and build out
  • Utilities

    If you're building a new call center that is based on another already existing center, you may not need to do process work. However, if this is a net new function, you will also incur costs for things like planning, sizing, securing vendors and contracts, process design and documentation. Many companies use consultants to help develop a new center as there is much work to do and you won't likely have all the resources you need to do it. So, you might want to include consulting costs to develop the center as well.

    We use a sophisticated tool for efforts like this that let you plan out the new center and budget based on the processes you need to handle, the workload they drive, the number of staff that workload demands, the technology and facilities you require for those staff. You should consider such an approach to get an accurate budget for building your center. Two new white papers written by Brian Hinton, a consultant at my firm, will help you learn more about such modeling:

    Using Process-Driven Analysis in Contact Centers
    Building Credible Business Cases for Contact Center Projects

  • This was first published in February 2007

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