For most business owners, the main reason why they would outsource their call center services is that it’s usually the least expensive option. Be that as it may, there are several factors that go into the final cost of doing so—including the type of call center, its location, and the specific pricing structure offered by the provider. 

In short, most inbound and outbound call centers in the U.S. and Canada have rates around $40 per hour on average. Meanwhile, an outsourced solution housed in locations like India and the Philippines can cost as little as $9 per hour. 

Of course, figuring out the true cost of outsourcing your own call center takes a bit more nuance than comparing average prices. In any case, depending on your specific situation and needs, a third-party vendor might still be the right choice for you. 

Call Center Outsourcing Costs: The Variations

Location Matters

When you’re looking to outsource your customer service operations or certain back-office business processes, the geographic location of your provider can affect many things, including cost. 

Here’s some intel on the average prices you can expect for different locations:

  • United States and Canada: $25 to $65 per hour, depending on the area of specialty
  • Western Europe: $40 or more per hour
  • Eastern Europe: $9 to $25 per hour
  • Australia: $35 to $55 per hour
  • Africa and the Middle East: $15 to $20 per hour
  • Latin America: $9 to $20 per hour
  • Southeast Asia and the Philippines: $5 to $14 per hour
  • India: $6 to $12 per hour

Inbound Call Centers

The price structure of an inbound call center can vary based on the complexity of your business needs. For example, a provider that offers a shared model will split its agents’ time between your business and other organizations, effectively lowering your costs by spreading the workload. Naturally, one major drawback of this method is that the agents may not be as focused on your specific brand or culture, which can ultimately lead to a more generic approach to the customer service experience.  

Conversely, a provider with a dedicated model will allocate its agents’ efforts solely toward your call traffic. With this method, agents can become familiar enough with your branding and company ethos to act as an extension of your team. Of course, the costs associated with this approach are higher, seeing as you’re reserving all of an agent’s time for your business. 

Most inbound centers charge either a fixed monthly rate or an hourly rate, and it may depend on your ability to estimate your expected call volumes. Alternatively, some providers offer a per-minute rate that covers the exact amount of time required each month to manage your calls. With these plans, your per-minute rate can decrease in conjunction with your call volumes, offering substantial cost savings as your traffic increases. 

Outbound Call Centers

Typically, outbound call center providers are focused on making sales and generating leads rather than managing incoming call traffic. As a result, you’ll often see a commission-based price structure that rewards agents with up to five percent of their total transactions. An hourly model is another way to manage the costs of such services. 

Similar to the per-minute rate of inbound call centers, you may also find outbound providers that charge per transaction. This approach is sometimes called a pay-per-performance model, as it only requires payment for sales completed or connections made—thus motivating agents to perform at their highest level. 

Keep in mind that it’s also possible to find hybrid models that combine hourly pricing with per-minute or per-transaction approaches. In this setup, your costs will typically decrease as your team size and call volume increase, affording you more value per transaction. On the flip side, your costs will generally be higher with a smaller team or more complex service requirements. 

More Variations 

In addition to the pricing structure and geographical location of your call center, aspects like call volume can affect your overall costs. For example, high inbound or outbound traffic often means paying for more agents to manage the workload. It may also cost more to maintain a team of agents that can cover non-traditional hours or around-the-clock availability. 

As omnichannel support becomes more integral to business success, it’s likely that you’ll need a team to manage not just incoming or outgoing calls but also live chat, SMS, email, and social media. These services may require an additional investment beyond basic phone communication. 

Another element to consider here—particularly if your provider is located in another region of the world—is the potential need for multilingual talent. If it’s beneficial to offer your customers a variety of language support options, these usually come at an additional cost. 

Call Center Outsourcing: Costs Breakdown

Inbound Call Center Costs – Onshore 

Outsourced services provided by an onshore call center within the U.S. and Canada tend to carry a higher price tag than any other option. This is partly due to the higher costs of living in these regions, along with the fact that agents usually have fewer language and cultural barriers when handling calls from local markets. At the same time, the call center workforce in these areas has also dwindled in recent years, creating more demand for higher rates of payment. 

In general, the per-minute rates for onshore agents average around $0.60 to $0.90, depending on the specialized skills required for the role. This comes out to a range of $54 to $60 for 60 active minutes of call management. In fields such as IT and nursing, where specific expertise is essential to the job, these rates can be much higher. 

Inbound Call Center Costs – Offshore 

India, the Philippines, and other regions in Asia are where companies usually find the least expensive per-minute costs, coming in at around $0.10 to $0.12. This is largely due to the widespread availability of workers in these areas, in addition to a relatively lower cost of living.  

Outbound Call Center Costs – Onshore

Most call center agents based in the U.S. and Canada are trained in a variety of skills that are essential to managing both inbound and outbound traffic. This, plus the higher cost of living in these locations, makes outbound services cost roughly the same as inbound options. On the low end, rates can hover around $25 to $35 per hour. You can calculate your estimated service cost by multiplying these amounts by the desired number of hours needed to reach your sales goals. 

Outbound Call Center Costs – Offshore 

Generally, the per-minute and/or hourly rates for outbound services will be higher than those for inbound services due to the added complexity of managing sales offerings. Still, offshore locations outside of the U.S. and Canada range from $12 to $25, which is much lower than onshore options.  

Hybrid Call Center Costs – Onshore 

Taking into account the higher costs of services offered in the U.S. and Canada—along with the added percentage of your sales—an onshore hybrid call center will likely be the most expensive model of outsourcing. Nevertheless, depending on your call volume and the size of your outsourced team, you may find this approach worthwhile, especially if your products and services are highly complex. 

Hybrid Call Center Costs – Offshore

Though you can expect to pay a bit more for outbound services than for inbound, an offshore team should still cost less than the total for an onshore team. Similarly, with an offshore hybrid, you’ll once again need to consider language and cultural variables that could affect overall sales and/or present significant training barriers. 

Call Center Outsourcing Costs vs. In-House Costs

When choosing between outsourcing to an offshore call center and establishing an in-house team of your own, the offshore option is going to have highly reduced costs. On top of the extra physical space you might need to have at your office, building an in-house service team requires additional investments for infrastructural things like phones, headsets, and similar hardware, along with the costs of training, support software, and other basic supplies. 

Furthermore, in-house teams also take time to hire, onboard, and train—even those in supervisory roles. After that, you’ll have to factor in the salaries of each employee, which is usually upwards of $40,000 or more annually, plus any benefits and insurance. 

On top of these financial costs, don’t forget that having an in-house team means it’s up to you to track and optimize agent performance for the best possible customer experience.   

Alternatively, an outsourced solution often includes all of these aspects in its pricing structure. For example, by paying an hourly wage rather than an annual salary, you only cover the actual work you need, ultimately incurring no added benefits or insurance-related costs. 

Other Factors to Consider Before Outsourcing Your Call Center

As with any business decision, the right answer isn’t always completely clear-cut. While an outsourced service may save you money, you will probably lose the ability to control the customer service experience from start to finish. 

Apart from the potential effect that language barriers and cultural considerations can have on agent performance, you won’t always have the luxury of overseeing your agents or virtual system directly. This can make it harder to ensure consistently high service quality and track progress toward specific KPIs (key performance indicators). 

Another vital element to think about relates to the privacy of your data. If you choose to outsource, your customer database—not to mention your back-end performance data—will be in the hands of your provider. That means you can’t always be certain of privacy and security considerations. 

What to Look for When Outsourcing Your Call Center

As you weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing your call center, you should take a serious look at things other than upfront costs. Of course, saving capital is a major factor that needs consideration, but your ultimate goal is still to have a thriving business. 

When choosing providers, be sure to look for:

  1. A high-performing team that is experienced in your field and preferably relies on some of the best support software to manage its workforce. 
  2. Ongoing client support to ensure that you’re apprised of key shifts in how your needs are being served. 
  3. A top-notch training approach that supports agents in consistently upholding your brand values. 
  4. A robust IT infrastructure to protect sensitive data and make sure that best practices surrounding information security are followed. The best call center service providers will be straightforward about their limitations and legal framework when it comes to these considerations.
  5. A scalable model that can grow with you as your call volumes and service needs change over time. You can ascertain this by inquiring about the level of traffic a provider can manage, whether it offers both inbound and outbound services, and whether it can handle any back-office process tasks.  

If you’re still wondering whether an in-house option might serve you well, we recommend reading more about the best customizable software for inbound services and the top five outbound call center services