Australian Call Centre Outsourcing Guide
Finding the right call centre outsourcing solution for any business can be challenging.
The choices for outsourced contact centre services can quickly seem overwhelming – firstly, there are different types of suppliers, from call centre outsourcers, contact centre outsourcers, virtual assistants, phone answering services, virtual contact centres and more!
Knowing which is right for your business can be complex enough, and that’s before you start to consider which country they should be based in, what are the indicative costs, what technology they need to have etc through to finding a reputable supplier that won’t leave you high and dry or cause a public relations or commercial disaster.
And even if you navigate through that, there are suppliers who specialise in different functions (e.g. sales, customer service, technical support) as well as different industry verticals (e.g. financial services, FMCG, insurance etc.) to name just a few.
Many suppliers also have minimum volumes or set commercial models that may result in them not even responding to your enquiry if it doesn’t appeal to them.
If you’re new to call centre outsourcing, or would like to know more about how to outsource call centre work, we’ve included some FAQs in our free call Australian Call Centre Outsourcing Guide below.
The guide is vendor-agnostic meaning it is written to purely provide you with independent advice on call centre outsourcing, without any bias on a particular supplier or country location.
Whilst the guide is predominately written from the perspective on outsourcing call centre work from Australia, the information in the guide is applicable to any outsourcing destination.
This Australian Call Centre Outsourcing Guide, and the call centre outsourcing wizard, is written and designed by local industry expert Justin Tippett, who has experience leading an outsourcing business, has worked as a consultant for businesses looking to optimise their existing outsourcing partnerships, and as a BPO customer, using call centre outsourcers to deliver services for the company he was working for.
This has given Justin a unique perspective on what’s required to make contact centre outsourcing successful for all partners and this guide is written to help you benefit from that experience and ensure your call centre outsourcing project will be successful.
Table of Contents:
If you don’t want to read the entire Australian Call Centre Outsourcing Guide, you can jump straight to the key sections below.
- What can you outsource?
- Common Types of Outsourcing Services
- Popular Outsourcing Destinations for Australia
- Call Centre Outsourcing Cost Guide (from Australia)
- What Australian businesses outsource their contact centres?
- Common outsourcing commercial models
- Defining your Requirements
- Questions to ask a potential outsourcer
- FAQs about our free CX Connect Service
Australian Call Centre Outsourcing Guide
Outsourcing any part of your contact centre operations can be a rewarding experience, but it can also has the potential to providing a lot of frustration for you, your businesses, and your customers if not done correctly.
The guide is vendor-agnostic, meaning it is written to purely provide you with independent advice on call centre outsourcing without any bias on a particular supplier or country location.
Whilst the guide is predominately written from the perspective of outsourcing call centre work from Australia, the information in the guide applies to any outsourcing destination.
What can you outsource to a call centre outsourcer?
When it comes to what can be outsourced to a BPO/Call Centre Outsourcer it typically falls into two key groups.
For many businesses, a contact centre outsourcer manages the entire contact centre function from sales, service, case management etc so they can focus on their core business and leave managing the customers to the experts.
There is often a perception that it’s cheaper to run your contact centre internally however when you consider all the various components required to run a contact centre successfully (floor space, recruitment, training, technology, reporting, forecasting etc. just to name a few) it is often more cost-effective to have the entire contact centre function managed by a third party for you.
A hybrid model of this is known as insourcing where you provide the physical space, and the BPO provides the people and technology.
There is also a range of variations on this, from using a recruitment agency to handle all the people side of things, outsourced technology partners etc but the most common scenario is for the contact centre outsourcer/BPO to manage everything from their operations.
Contact Centre Outsourcers don’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation and they can be engaged for a wide variety of reasons including:
- You may already have an in-house/internal contact centre but you need some additional help and expertise with a specific function.
- You have seasonal demand and only need some additional resources for defined periods.
- You have a short-term campaign that needs to be completed and you don’t have enough internal resources.
- You need overflow support during busier than forecasted periods.
- You want to create some competition with internal teams to drive performance.
- Your business is growing fast and you aren’t sure how to scale.
- You need to generate additional revenue through new sales and acquisition.
- Your business needs to respond to a crisis situation and needs to mobilise customer support asap.
- A whole host of other reasons!!!
Common Outsourcing Service
The modern contact centre outsourcer offers a wide range of services across multiple channels (i.e. phone, email, live chat, SMS, email, social media, video etc.) and you can engage them to run one, or multiple services for you as either a stand-alone solution or to complement your existing team as an overflow or as a specific campaign.
Contact Centre Outsourcing services include:
- Customer service, Customer Care, Customer Support
- Information and advice lines
- Inbound Sales, order taking, reservations, bookings
- Outbound Sales, Telemarketing
- Lead Generation, Appointment setting
- Cross-selling and upselling to existing customers
- Technical Support
- Retention campaigns
- Intervention campaigns
- Collections, debt recovery
- Welfare checks
- Surveys and market research
- Emergency responses and information
- Crisis management/product recalls
- Database/Customer list cleansing and updating
- Social media monitoring and responses
- Data entry and data processing
- Interpreting services
Most outsourcers specialise in a few different areas (although most will tell you they can do everything!) so use our free contact centre outsourcing wizard and we’ll connect you to outsourcers who are best matched to your requirements.
Popular Call Centre Outsourcing Destinations
For Australian businesses, there are generally a few popular outsourcing destinations when it comes to where to outsource your call centre services:
Australian Contact Centres
It would reminisce of me not to mention keeping your call centre outsourcing work right here in Australia.
Yes, it’s the most expensive option, but there are numerous benefits in keeping your call centre outsourcing in Australia.
With Customer Experience now the key differentiator for many brands, not products or price, using an offshore can introduce an element of risk to your brand.
Customers will always prefer support where the ease of communication has the least friction e.g. can be easily understood (no accent) and by communicating with someone that understands the local culture and nuances.
With advances in call centre technology using AI automation (as well as chatbots, Voice Biometrics etc.) there are numerous ways you can reduce the headcount and improve service, making it cheaper to service your customer from onshore and the good Australian-based call centre providers will work with you on determining the best way to manage your customers.
That said, whilst we are an Australian-based business, we recognise that outsourcing call centre work overseas can, and is, a viable solution for many businesses and our aim is to help you find the right solution for your business.
New Zealand Contact Centres
Similar in culture to Australia, New Zealand offers essentially the same level of service and capability; however, thanks to lower labour costs and some associated on-costs, Australian companies can save up to 30% by having their contact centre in New Zealand.
The close proximity is also an advantage with the key call centre hubs of Wellington and Auckland only 3 hours away from Melbourne.
South Africa Contact Centres
The contact centre industry is reportedly growing at around 15% per annum in South Africa and for good reason; a highly educated workforce, similar culture to Australia, UK and the US, robust infrastructure, low turnover, strong work ethic and to top it off, low cost with savings of over 50% from onshore operations.
Foxtel and iiNet are just two large Australian companies with a strong South Africa focus and there are plenty more.
Distance can be a factor, with a trip to South Africa around 14 hours from Australia so if you need to have resources back and forth, make sure you consider the additional travel costs.
Philippines Contact Centres
Now the largest call centre industry in the world, the Philippines industry employs approx 1.2 million workers and is worth around $23 billion USD.
Low cost (savings of up to 70%), fluent English (with American accents) and time zones close to Australia have all contributed to a large number of Australian call centres moving their operations to the Philippines although COVID forced many Australian businesses to abandon the Philippines as many centres were unable to open and the work from home infrastructure was unable to support the workforce.
Like Australia, you get your mix of good and poor agents however good training, empowering the agents with the right information and system access, selecting a good partner and being careful in what types of calls are handled can all mitigate the risks and the Philippines can and does offer many benefits.
High staff turnover, exchange rates between the AUD and USD, inflation, a strained infrastructure and the high prevalence of natural disasters (e.g. flooding/typhoons etc) need to be considered.
Fiji Contact Centres
Similar in cost to the Philippines, Fiji is also in close proximity to Australia and with a fibre-optic cable linking Australia and New Zealand in 2009 and first-world telecommunications in place, it is continuing to emerge as a viable destination.
A well-educated English-speaking workforce that is renowned for friendly customer service and cost savings compared with the Philippines will continue to put Fiji in the mix for consideration.
Like the Philippines, attendance can be an issue and given their location, weather events can be an issue and need to be considered.
India Contact Centres
Once the global leader in call centre offshore outsourcing, India has been plagued by poor customer feedback and with the emergence of other cheaper and closer destinations, the Indian call centre industry continues to decline.
However, with its highly educated workforce, India continues to be a suitable destination for some high-tech/IT support roles and for back-office processing as well as offline work like live chat/emails.
Many of the larger contact centre outsourcers provide multiple-country solutions enabling you to ‘mix and match’ locations based on your requirements. For example, simple calls could be handled by the Philippines and you can retain the more complex calls in Australia.
Contact Centre Outsourcing Cost Guide (from Australia)
Price is always an important consideration when it comes to outsourcing any call centre work and there is a range of factors that can contribute to pricing.
So if you’re wondering how much outsourced call centre services cost, we’ve put together a guide for you below that outlines some of the key influences on outsourced call centre costs from Australia ($AUD).
Contact Centre Outsourcing prices by country (from Australia)
One of the biggest factors determining the pricing of call centre outsourcing is the location of your call centre. The guide below provides a fully-loaded $AUD hourly rate to help compare prices and it’s the most common model used by most outsourcers.
A Fully-loaded rate or fully-bundled rate typically refers to the inclusion of the employee’s salary, management overheads, technology, reporting, accommodation etc.
- Australia – $48 to $70
- New Zealand – $35 to $60
- Philippines – $8 to $16
- South Africa – $15 to $25
- Fiji – $10 to $15
What’s included in a call centre outsourcer’s hourly rate?
It’s often notoriously difficult to compare rates between outsourcers as they each have different models for determining their pricing. Below are just some of the considerations that can influence price:
- Are they dedicated staff members or shared among other campaigns.
- Who’s covering the cost of break times (are you paying only for talk time or an entire shift including break times).
- Accommodation (onsite with a dedicated workstation with either one or two monitors or work from home).
- Team Leader (dedicated Team Leader or shared, how much coaching does each agent receive and how often).
- Operations Management & Senior Management involvement and is there a dedicated account manager to liaise with.
- Technology (what’s included, are there any consumption costs, costs to scale up or down etc).
- Call costs or internet charges.
- Training (off-phone training, technical/product training and soft skills/development).
- Recruitment (initial and replacement for turnover).
- Reward and recognition/incentive programs.
- Reporting(what’s included as standard and what is considered custom design).
- Quality Assurance (internal or external).
Other influences on the price of call centre outsourcing:
Type of Work
The type of contact centre work can also influence the pricing. Inbound enquiries, complaints, telemarketing, technical support, inbound sales, customer service, product support and so on all require varying level of skills and some are easier to recruit for than others so this can also play a factor in determining the cost of outsourcing.
Skill of Agent
Perhaps somewhat connected to the section above, but agent skill can also play a role in the price. Factors such as language skills, technical proficiency, related industry/product knowledge, contact centre experience and so on can also influence price.
Most outsourcers work on profit margins above and beyond their costs to determine their pricing and a factor in determining the appropriate profit margin is if there are any risks associated with the campaign. Refer to the Common Commercial Models tab for more information.
What Australian businesses outsource their contact centres?
It’s probably no surprise that some of the largest contact centres in Australia are in the Telecommunications, Banking, Insurance, Superannuation and Energy (e.g. Electricity and Gas) sectors given their customer base is at a minimum a state but often the whole of Australia.
So it’s also not surprising that many of these companies rely on contact centre outsourcers in Australia (and offshore) to provide contact centre services for them.
For some, the entire contact centre operations are outsourced while for others, they only outsource either some specific functions (i.e. inbound, outbound, complaints, sales, service etc.) or use the outsourcers for overflow work or seasonal work.
Telstra, Medibank, NAB, Energy Australia, BUPA, Optus, Qantas, Simply Energy, Origin and Westpac are just some of the companies that are using contact centre outsourcing as part of their customer management strategy*.
Even the Australian Taxation Office uses call centre outsourcers so when you consider banks, insurance providers and the ATO use outsourcers it’s a great testament to the strict security, privacy and technology that outsourcers are able to provide.
The use of offshore contact centres
There are significant cost savings for businesses that use offshore call centres but not surprisingly, most companies aren’t too keen on publicly advertising the fact given the often (and not always fair) criticism of the use of offshore contact centres.
The Australian Customer Experience Professionals Association (ACXPA) recently launched a new service called Where is the Call Centre that enables Australian consumers to search for businesses based on the location of their call centre which is putting the power of information and choice back with the consumer and with some of the challenges during COVID with offshore call centres, many businesses are now diversifying and ensuring they don’t all their eggs in one basket splitting their call centre outsourcing across multiple destinations.
It’s not just big business using outsourcers
As outsourcers are experts at managing customers, many small businesses outsource all their customer support to outsourcers – whether it’s just to handle the odd enquiry or all the customer service and sales calls so they can just focus on their skills/expertise.
It’s also common for small businesses to outsourcer particular components, i.e. outbound sales, retention calls etc. or uses an outsourcer to supplement their own internal team.
*As of January 2023
How Call Centre Outsourcing Pricing Works
While we’ve provided indicative hourly rates by country and explained what this typically includes, there’s another key component that will influence call centre outsourcing costs – risk.
Call Centre Outsourcers will consider the commercial risks of each campaign as they have a direct impact on their likely income. The risk is typically aligned to the level of risk and the required performance/Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
There can be penalties applied for poor performance, as well as incentives for exceeding KPIs and these are often a critical component of your outsourcing agreement with your chosen supplier.
The most common commercial models for contact centre outsourcers are:
When call centre outsourcers are on a fixed hourly rate, they are assured of a fixed income and can budget accordingly. This model will typically provide you with the best price because the call centre outsourcer can pass on the lower risk to you in the form of lower margins and therefore cheaper prices.
MODERATE RISK MODEL
Simply paying an outsourcer a fixed hourly rate makes things easy for the outsourcer but for you, there is potentially no incentive for the outsourcer to go ‘above and beyond’ or be held accountable for their performance.
This can take shape in various forms including:
- Quality-based where there is an incentive for achieving agreed quality metrics.
- Sales-based where there is an incentive for achieving agreed sales metrics.
- Efficiency-based where there is an incentive for achieving efficiency-related targets.
- Combinations of all of the above
For many businesses, when they think call centre outsourcing, they are thinking of telemarketing (making outbound calls to customers to get sales). Often, telemarketing is associated with commission-based commercial models i.e.
“Sell my product and I’ll give you x per sale.”
The challenge with this model though is that agents don’t typically work on this model so the outsourcer is committed to paying their agents by the hour, regardless of whether any sales are made or not. As such, this model is high risk for the outsourcer!
To mitigate this risk, they look to ensure that they have high margins to offset those ‘slow sales days’.
One thing that can help an outsourcer take on these risks is proven conversion rates that have been established over time. This helps with their commercial modelling and can give them some confirmation on the expected return.
The newer your product is, the less likely you are to have any data available to pass on, resulting in an even higher risk model to the point where many outsourcers will just say no.
Different BPO Pricing Models
Risk aside, there are lots of different ways outsourcers can structure their pricing including:
- Per hour
- Per minute
- Per call
- Average Handling Time (talk time + after-call work associated with the call like order processing, case updates etc)
- Base rate(like a weekly or monthly retainer) plus a per call or AHT minute rate
- Outcome-based (e.g. Per sale/lead/appointment)
- Monthly retainer plus reduced per call/minute
- Fixed price (typically for a set piece of work like a database cleanse, touch-base/welfare campaign with defined customer numbers)
To help find the right call centre outsourcing partner for your business, it’s important we understand the solution you need and the key attributes of a supplier that are important to you. The clearer you are with your requirements, the easier it will be to ensure you have comparable solutions from partners that have experience meeting your exact requirements.
As you complete the call centre outsourcing wizard, you’ll be asked a range of questions including:
- Preferred location(s) of the call centre
- Size of campaign
- Functions you need support on (e.g. sales, service etc)
- What channels you need supported (phone, emails, SMS, Live Chat)
- What technology you need (everything from CRM tools to Chatbots to Call Recording)
- KPIs (what are your expectations on areas like sales conversions or how quickly calls get answered)
- Commercial models (what is your preferred model?)
- Training materials and scripting
- Hours of operation
Questions to ask Potential Outsourcing Partners
As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of important considerations when trying to find the right call centre partner for your business. Whilst not an exhaustive list, here are some common questions you could consider asking:
- How long have they been in operation for?
- How stable is their management team?
- What is their recruitment process?
- What are their staff turnover and attrition like?
- What are their employee engagement scores?
- How do they reward their staff?
- How do they manage training for employees?
- How much coaching do employees receive and is it included in the pricing?
- Have they managed similar campaigns in the past?
- Do they, or have they, managed campaigns for your competitors?
- What are their areas of specialisation?
- Do they specialise in any particular industries?
- Have they got examples of the type of reporting you can expect?
- What is the frequency of the reporting?
- Do they have certifications that are important to your business (i.e. ISO-9001, ISO 14001, ISO/IEC 27001, PCI etc.)
- Where appropriate, do they have a local representative you can liaise with?
- Who would be the day-to-day contact for your campaign?
- How do or would they handle changes to forecasted volumes?
- What is the process for requiring changes to your agreement?
- What is their business continuity plan (BCP)?
- Can they supply any customer testimonials/references?
- What is their customer retention like? If they’ve lost campaigns, why?
How the free CX Connect service works
The goal of CX Connect is to make it easy for you to find and connect to call centre outsourcers by completing our outsourcing wizard.
In simple business terms, we’re a little bit like a free broker – we help introduce you to suppliers who are best suited to meet your requirements saving you time and reducing the risk and hassle in finding quality suppliers.
No more spending hours on search engines, repeating information, following up calls and emails and getting frustrated when suppliers don’t call you back.
It’s as simple as this:
Step 1: Complete the outsourcing wizard
Step 2: We’ll review your requirements and manually assess them against our quality-approved supplier database. Where there is a good fit, we’ll provide your contact details to them and you’ll receive contact from the outsourcers directly.
Step 3: You are free to negotiate the prices, terms etc. directly with the recommended outsourcers and, of course, select the best fit for your business. Our role is simply to make the right introductions.
How long does it take to complete the outsourcing wizard?
Our goal is to ensure we have the right information to enable us to connect you with the appropriately skilled and experienced outsourcer so we make no apologies for asking a number of questions via the outsourcing wizard.
These questions have been based on decades of experience in the global call centre outsourcing industry and asking anything less will result in wasted time for you, and less interest in outsourcers so ultimately answering these now will save you a lot of time and effort in the future (as you’ll be asked all the same questions by most outsourcers).
On average, we find it takes most businesses around 5 minutes to complete the wizard.
Is my submission confidential?
How do you determine the right outsourcers to recommend?
All submissions are manually reviewed and assessed and we include a range of factors to determine the best fit. As you’ll note, our outsourcing wizard is quite comprehensive and your answers to the questions help us considerably.
How soon before we hear from the recommended outsourcers?
Our aim is to review all submissions via our outsourcing wizard and make the appropriate introductions to suitable suppliers within 24 hours. Because of the high quality of our leads to the outsourcers, you’ll typically hear from the outsourcers the same day (depending on the time of day of course). In the event you don’t hear from an outsourcer, please contact us.
How many suppliers will we hear from?
Because of the detail captured in the outsourcing wizard, we are typically able to identify up to 3 outsourcers who best meet your requirements.
Are you aligned with any outsourcers or businesses?
No. CX Connect is a free industry service provided by the Australian Customer Experience Professionals Association (ACXPA) and we are strictly vendor-agnostic – our goal is to help you find the best-fit suppliers for your business. We typically will recommend up to three quality-checked and approved suppliers and the decision on which outsourcer you select will always be yours to make.
Is there any cost to use the service?
No. The CX Connect service is free to use for you. We earn our revenue from Vendor Members of the Australian Customer Experience Professionals Association (ACXPA) and suppliers who pay us a small fee for providing them with high-quality leads that they know are well suited to their business.
Is there someone I can talk to?