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Call Center Services Cost: 2021 Outsource Pricing Comparison

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run or how large it is; handling telephone lines is challenging and labor-intensive. And, when most in-house receptionists working for small to medium businesses handle the phones and do other tasks as well, the job can become a nightmare of juggling incoming calls between other work.

The solution could be to use one of the many available call center outsourcing services. The staff supplied by these companies are professional and fully trained. Furthermore, and more importantly, answering phones and dealing with customers is what they do. But, it’s not just the logistics of doing the job. Call center pricing per call can be cost-effective too.

So, what makes a call center company the ideal solution for your problem? We’ve compiled the information in this guide to:

  • Give you an idea of the benefits for your business.
  • Allow you to see the affordable call center costs when you outsource this vital customer-based role.

Call Center Service Costs & Pricing Models

Call centers use different pricing models that allow businesses to choose the type of billing that suits them.

The following pricing systems are the most common:

Pay-per-minute

A call center can charge a customer for the length of calls dealt with by their agents. The call center sends out a monthly bill, with the total amount based on a cost per minute.

Monthly subscription

The call center charges a monthly subscription rate to the customer. The call center agrees on a package of services that they will do for the customer and charges them for the agreed package.

Tiered pricing plans

A tiered pricing plan gives customers access to more advanced services at higher tiers while offering lower tiers with more basic features.

Incremental billing

When customers choose the pay-per-minute plan, what happens when a call isn’t an exact minute?

  • Some providers charge for the exact call length. Therefore, a call lasting 1 minute and 1 second would appear on the bill as precisely that.
  • Other providers round the call up to the nearest 6 seconds. Therefore, the 1 minute and 1 second call will become 1 minute and 6 seconds, or 1.1 minutes.
  • However, some call centers round the call up to the next whole minute. So, the 1-minute and 1 second call becomes 2 minutes on the bill.

Therefore, you can see how important it is to understand how the provider makes up your bill.

Other charges

Some call centers also charge their customers on a cost-per-call basis. However, this billing method isn’t as popular as the others mentioned here because providers often charge a premium rate.

Call centers also charge extra fees for services such as:

  • A one-time setup cost. This allows the call center to prepare its system for the activation of the customer’s account.
  • Providers charge higher call center rates for answering the phone during public holidays. Usually, 24/7 phone answering comes under at least one of the subscription plans. However, customers usually pay a premium rate, independent of the tiered plans, for work done on public holidays such as Christmas Day.
  • Answering the phone isn’t the only work that call centers do. The agents also complete the necessary paperwork involved with the call. Some providers charge extra for this, while others include it in an inflated standard charge.

Top US Call Center Providers

The table below gives a quick price comparison of the top US providers for call center services.

Company  Cheapest Plan (cost/minute) Most Expensive Plan (cost/minute)
Five Star Call Centers Not published
Go Answer $50/month $8,200/month
Signius Communications $45/month for 50 minutes $213/month for 250 minutes
Specialty Answering Service $34 + $1.29/minute $8,599 for 10,000 minutes
TeleDirect $1.29/min ($387 for 300 minutes) $0.75/min ($15,000 for 20,000 minutes)

* Disclaimer – data was correct at the time of writing (August 2021), but prices may change. Moreover, prices are sourced from the official website.

Below we profile these companies’ services and features in a bit more detail.

Note: We rank the companies in alphabetical order only.

1. Five Star Call Centers

Five Star Call Centers use Midwest-based agents and specialize in outbound calls and companies with a high call volume.

Its outbound services include market research and generating sales leads.

Features

Five Star Call Centers offers a very comprehensive range of outbound services. The company can help to generate sales leads or chase up missed payments. It’s all the same to them.

Here are a few of the features offered:

  • Lead generation. Agents can chase up new leads, cold call and decide how likely the call will become a customer.
  • Product sales. Agents can be an outsourced sales department. Also, they can use targeted marketing functions to help increase inquiries.
  • Quality Assurance. Agents will ask for feedback from customers. Thus, optimizing your services and processes.
  • Subscription or membership renewal. Agents will contact subscribers with contracts soon to expire to ensure the membership doesn’t lapse.
  • Crisis management. Suppose your company suffers a PR crisis. Five Star’s specialists can assist with a response campaign to help keep your brand free from scandal or tarnish.

Five Star also offers the usual inbound services you find with other call center companies.

Prices

Five Star doesn’t advertise its fees. Instead, it prefers to deal with inquiries on a one-to-one basis and craft a plan to suit your requirements. However, the company provides both shared and dedicated agents, yet expects a minimum of $3,000 per month to use a shared agent, which works out to be around 80 to 90 cents per minute. In comparison, a dedicated agent costs, on average, $26 per hour.

The company’s setup and staff training fees vary depending on your company’s requirements and the scope of service. But generally, training costs $20 per hour.

Two more pieces of information you should be aware of:

  • Five Star bills you for all work minutes on your account, even if the work takes place after the call has ended. They include items such as relevant paperwork and report updates.
  • The company bills work by the second. Therefore, they never round up call times. Instead, you only pay for the work done.

Five Star Call Center website.

2. GoAnswer

GoAnswer has three call center locations: One is in New York, one in Florida. And, the third is in Saint Lucia. So, there should be no problems with speaking to someone who doesn’t know English.

Features

The company has a selection of well-priced plans with well-thought-out features.

  • The basic service is Live Answering. This allows you to outsource all incoming calls. However, you must supply a script to help the agents to talk to your customers intelligently.
  • Message-taking is another basic service. The agent takes contact details and forwards them to the appropriate representative in your company.
  • A more advanced feature, Customer Service, allows the agent to handle customer complaints and answer their questions. The agent can also pass on the question to someone in your company if necessary.
  • Customer retention is a valuable feature to have. If your customer is dissatisfied, the agent can issue goodwill discounts or coupons. They will also record customer complaints and pass them on to the appropriate person.
  • Go Answer includes email and SMS message notifications to know if the agents have organized any new appointments.
  • This company also supplies outbound services customized to suit your business model.
  • The client portal allows you to access information about the calls you receive and how many minutes remain on your plan. You can also customize the script from this portal.

Plans also include:

  • A toll-free number.
  • Access to the online client’s portal.
  • Call patching.
  • Bilingual support.
  • Email and SMS notifications.
  • Live operator call answer 24/7/365.

Prices

GoAnswer charges a fixed fee for each tier plus a price per minute if their customer exceeds the agreed number of minutes.

Set monthly fee Maximum number of minutes Overage fee ($ per extra minute)
$50 Pay as you go $1.15
$110 100 $1.10
$250 250 $1.00
$475 500 $0.95
$900 1000 $0.95
$2,200 2,500 $0.90
$4,200 5,000 $0.90
$8,200 10,000 $0.90

Each plan also requires a $75 setup fee, which the company charges after the 30-day free trial period. Furthermore, there is also a custom plan depending on whether you want extra minutes or a specialized service. However, you must contact the company’s sales team for information on this.

GoAnswer website.

3. Signius Communications

Signius Communications concentrates on companies that have low-volume calls. Furthermore, they make the experience cost-effective for the customer. They don’t offer outbound call services, preferring to concentrate on standard inbound services plus extras such as customer support, order entry, and payment processing.

Features

Although the cost of Signius’ services works out at around $0.82 per minute and is therefore very well priced when compared to other contact centers, it doesn’t stop the agents from providing a personal and attentive service at all times.

The features the company offers don’t differ much from those provided by all other inbound call centers. However, they don’t only provide the basic answering services but include the more advanced features too.

Here are a few of Signius’ features:

  • Live answering. Signius have friendly and very professional agents operating on behalf of your business. They work during office hours and after hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, you can customize this to out-of-hours or office hours as needed.
  • Bilingual agents. Signius agents speak both English and Spanish fluently.
  • Messages. Agents will note callers’ contact details and messages. They then forward the information to the appropriate recipient by phone, email, or SMS.
  • Order taking. The agents can help callers, walk them through an e-commerce site and help with purchases. However, they need a setup fee to link their software with yours, so they have access to your store and inventory.
  • Customer service. Signius are happy to take on all your customer service roles, such as handling inquiries and complaints. And will do so according to your company’s brand and procedures.
  • Help desk. Signius offers Level 3 technical support and IT services. Agents will help customers with troubleshooting software and products without needing to consult your staff.

Therefore, if you want a call center that combines reasonably priced work with friendly and knowledgeable agents, selecting a call service from Signius is probably all you need.

Prices

Signius offers flexible price plans depending on what your company needs.

  • The Basic Package includes 50 minutes per month of answering services. Furthermore, the package costs $45 per month with an additional $1 per extra minute.
  • The Pro-Package offers 125 minutes of call time and costs $109 per month. In addition to this, they also charge $0.95 per extra minute.
  • The Premier Package includes 250 minutes of call time and costs $213 per month. In addition, they charge $0.92 per extra minute.

Moreover, they won’t charge you a setup fee for the basic accounts. Instead, setup fees only apply when agents link to your platform to manage an e-commerce store or update a CRM.

Probably one of the best features is that you can change your plan as the call volume changes. Generally, Signius prefers to deal with customers on a one-to-one basis to determine exactly what your company needs.

Signius Communications website

4. Specialty Answering Service

As you might expect from the name, Speciality Answering Serice (SAS) specializes in the core features that you expect from a first-class answering service. However, that‘s not all. SAS also has a few extra advanced features to benefit all types of business. You can have a 14-day trial, free of charge, with no obligation to continue. One more advantage, it’s US-based, so your customers won’t have any language problems.

Features

SAS concentrates more on inbound call services, although it does offer outbound services too.

Here are some of the company’s core features:

  • Live answering. SAS agents will use a script, which you supply. Also, they help your customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Although, you can choose to opt for office hours only if you prefer.
  • Messages. Agents collect contact details, take a message, and forward them to the recipient via email, phone, text, or fax.
  • Order and payment processing. Suppose you have an e-commerce store. In that case, SAS agents will help customers with general questions, walk them through the ordering process and help with purchases. The portal and system are PCI compliant.
  • Appointment scheduling. You can have appointments scheduled via a shared calendar, and your salespeople can view this in real-time. Furthermore, they will receive a notification by email or text message when changes to the calendar occur.
  • Bilingual. Agents speak both English and Spanish fluently.
  • Locate a dealer. If you have distributors or remote sales representatives, SAS agents can help your customers find them locally.
  • Market research. Agents can conduct surveys based on your marketing strategy to determine your customers’ preferences.

Prices

SAS has eight pricing plans for you to choose from.

Plan Name Price/month Overage costs per additional minute.
Economy $34 + $1.29/minute None
100 Minute $128 $1.19
220 Minute $219 $1.19
500 Minute $539 $1.09
1,000 Minute $999 $1.05
2,500 Minute $2,400 $0.99
5,000 Minute $4,599 $0.99
10,000 Minute $8,599 $0.89

SAS also offers Pay-Per-Call billing. The price can vary depending on your expected call volume. Furthermore, it also includes incoming and outgoing emails, texts, and fax messages. Therefore, get in touch with the sales team for information.

Speciality Answering Service website

5. TeleDirect

TeleDirect is probably the best overall call center for small and medium-sized businesses. Although these sized businesses will find the plans helpful, the company’s services are attractive to businesses of all sizes. TeleDirect owns two US-based call centers so that all calls will be answered locally.

Features

The company employs almost 400 telephone agents, divided among shared, dedicated, and semi-dedicated duties.  On top of the per-minute usage rate, you can also choose optional add-on services. Here are a few of them:

  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This allows the caller to interact with the system via voice recognition and keypad tones.
  • Patch time. Allows the agent to patch calls through to your premises.
  • SMS notifications. Notifies when the agent makes appointments.
  • Call recordings. Records the call for forwarding to your company.
  • Market research. Agents conduct market research polls of customers and leads.

Prices

Cost of plan Minutes included in the plan Cost per minute
$387 300 $1.29
$1,100 1,000 $1.10
$2,970 3,000 $0.99
$5,580 6,000 $0.93
$8,800 10,000 $0.88
$15,000 20,000 $0.75

TeleDirect website

How Does a Call Centre Outsourcing Work?

If you’ve never used outsourced call center services before, you need to know what they do and what you pay for.

As the name suggests, a call center provides staff to manage your phone lines from a central contact center. A basic package includes taking caller’s names and addresses, taking messages, and relaying the content to the appropriate person. Also, the package includes answering basic questions. Usually, to sound professional, your company provides a script to the call center agent to guide them when talking to your customers. Depending on the package you pay for, the agent can also process orders and payments.

So far, all these features are the function of an inbound call center, where they answer incoming calls. However, many call centers also offer outbound calls. These might assist your latest marketing campaign and help to generate new leads for your sales representatives to follow up.

But, these days, phones aren’t the only method of communication with customers. Therefore, call centers don’t only handle inbound and outbound calls; they might also deal with email, SMS, social media, and live webchat. So, if you want a fully trained staff to use all these communication channels and provide you with an outsourced customer services department, you should use the services of a modern call center.

Call Centre Services Provided

Call centers provide a wide range of services for their clients. Generally, we can separate these into “outbound” and “inbound” services.

Inbound Call Centre Services

These services deal with all incoming calls. Typical tasks included in the inbound category include:

  • Live answer calls.
  • Message taking and delivering.
  • Forwarding calls to the recipient’s numbers in the office, at home,  or on the road.
  • Order management.
  • Processing payments.
  • Customer support and complaints.
  • Technical support.
  • Employee call-out hotline.

Outbound Call Centre Services

The call center reps handle this category to call prospects, customers, and suppliers. Typical calls in this category include:

  • Cold calling.
  • Generate leads.
  • Surveys.
  • Marketing campaigns.

Shared Agents vs. Dedicated Agents

The differences between these two types of agents are the duties they perform and their price. Some call center service providers have the facilities to allocate an agent to deal with your calls and exclude all others; they are called dedicated agents. They can handle advanced services for your company, such as technical support and your latest marketing campaign. In exchange, you pay the dedicated agents an hourly rate, usually around $20 to $25 per hour. However, they are specialists and reserved for your company alone.

In comparison, a shared agent works on calls from many companies, depending on who is calling. They cost significantly less than a dedicated agent and perform simple operations such as call diverting, message taking, and frequently asked questions. But they work from a script. Typically, shared agents cost up to 90 cents per minute.

Sometimes, the call center service company has semi-dedicated agents available. These agents aren’t reserved for your account alone. Instead, they work for two or three clients simultaneously, doing advanced duties similar to those they would do if they were dedicated. These agents cost less than a dedicated agent, usually around $15 to $20 per hour.

Domestic vs. Offshore

Generally, when comparing call center fees against the cost to employ in-house telephonists, you’ll find that outsourcing your telephone work is much cheaper. Usually, this is due to lower labor costs, primarily if the call center works from an overseas region with a lower cost of living.

However, it’s not always good to use foreign agents when dealing with your customers, however tempting that might be.

Here is a list of the downsides that you might encounter:

  • Agents might use English as a second language or speak with heavy accents.
  • Sometimes, it isn’t easy to deal with an overseas company when attempting to get a refund on your subscription if the agent doesn’t measure up.
  • Some countries have unreliable power and IT infrastructures.
  • There’s no guarantee that the overseas call center has reliable security and confidentiality, especially if the service provider contracts with competitors.
  • Your customers might distrust an overseas call center.

However, many highly reputable overseas call centers do everything correctly and by the book. But, unless you find a company with ties to the US or have experience outsourcing to overseas call centers, you might find that the financial savings aren’t worth the trouble.

Cost Factors

Here is a list of different factors which will influence the cost of your package.

  • Location of the call center. Is the provider based overseas or in the US?
  • Dedicated or shared call center agents.
  • Call time.
  • Inbound or outbound calls. Or both.
  • Quality of agents and how many are available.
  • Call center support staff, such as quality assurance and competent supervisors.
  • On-going professional development and training.
  • Quality of HR department. How do they replace unsuitable staff?
  • Type of call center.
  • Quality and cost of infrastructure and equipment.

Let’s consider a few of these factors which have the most significant impact on your call center services pricing.

Quality of Agents

Many businesses like yours use call centers to take customer service calls. However, it takes many years of training to develop the experience needed to be good at it. Call centers usually charge by the minute for customer service calls, and the average charge taken across the industry is between $0.75 and $1.50 per minute.

As you can see from the list below, many variables affect the quality of the agents allocated to your contract. So, as you’d expect, it can be challenging to decide on a final cost.

This cost depends on a few different factors:

  • The complexity of the expected calls.
  • The script that the customer issues.
  • Does the agent need any specialized knowledge?
  • How many minutes per call has the customer purchased?
  • Does the customer need multilingual agents? For example, English and Spanish.
  • What’s the call center’s reputation like?
  • Inbound or outbound call? Or perhaps both.

Using a US service provider

The most obvious benefit when hiring a US-based provider is that you won’t have any problems with language. Even in some overseas countries such as India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, where English is the citizen’s first language, the accent is often challenging for many Americans to understand. A YouGovAmerica survey into languages suggests that as many as 75% of US Americans don’t speak a second language. Furthermore, many people don’t trust a person who speaks with a broad accent.

The obvious solution to these problems is to work with a call center based in the US. Then you won’t have a problem.

Credit card security

Everyone tries to run their business efficiently and securely. And, dealing with customers’ payments over the phone is one of the most critical. Many international call centers are entirely trustworthy when dealing with credit card details and follow the strict regulations governing these transactions. However, a minority isn’t so secure, and it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two. Using a company based in the US might cost a bit more, but there’s more chance that their agents will respect your customers’ details and privacy.

Outsourced Call Centre Service Benefits

Most company employees need special training when dealing with customers and the general public. This training can cost your company a lot of money if they directly work for you. Furthermore, you must also continually assess their performance and apply more training if necessary.

Using an outsourced call center has many advantages:

  • Their staff has a high level of training and experience.
  • You don’t have to provide intensive training for your employees.
  • You won’t have to invest in specialist IT or telephone equipment. An outsourced company already has these.
  • The call center can assign their employees to different contracts as demand rises or falls. If you had in-house phone staff, what do you do with them when the demand temporarily drops?
  • A service provider will have access to multilingual agents for international customers.

Therefore, using a professional US-based outsourced customer service or contact center can improve your company’s efficiency and reduce costs.

Next Steps

Finding the right contact center to handle your company’s communication needs can be complicated. Furthermore, you might not find out there’s a problem until your sales start to decline. Likewise, wading through the many call center service prices that you find published online can be a nightmare. Instead, why not ask for professional help?

Complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive up to four quotes from professional companies who know what they’re talking about and can help you solve your problem.