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Pay for Value Delivered


hours clocked

Call or contact center providers normally bill by the hour—a practice many clients prefer.

Though commonly accepted, it begs a question: Is the pay-per-hour model really in a client’s best interest?

Research shows that facility-based call center agents work, at most, only about 40 minutes for every hour clocked and billed. Working or not, they’re in their seats, on the clock—with charges adding up.

Forty minutes don’t equal an hour, though. Right off, that’s a 33% productivity loss—or two and a half hours lost from an eight-hour shift. Multiplied by 100 agents, that adds up to thousands of dollars in lost productivity and tens of thousands of dollars in potentially missed sales every day.

Produce More

This same research points out that productivity of brick-and-mortar call center workers is directly related to the quality of processes and supervision.

If processes are loose and supervision lax, agents tend to work lackadaisically. They’re paid a flat hourly rate, with no real incentives to ramp up output.

By contrast—and contrary to what some might think—work-at-home agents are more focused and productive. At least those who are paid by the minute

That’s because they only get paid for productive time spent on a call or in service, not for sitting at a computer for an hour. And they are not subject to office distractions or co-worker interruptions.

Do the Math

Let’s look at the math involved—and the real value delivered—in these two different payment models.

A standard hourly rate is $30 per hour. Given an hourly paid agent averages 40 minutes of actual talk time per hour, that brings an effective hourly rate of $45 per hour.

Here’s the math: $30 an hour / 40 minutes productive time = $0.75 cents a minute.  60 minutes x $0.75 = $45.

A typical pay-per-minute rate is $0.65, which equates to $39 per hour. Here, clients pay for actual minutes worked, not idle time—suggesting a more efficient pricing method.

The pay-per-minute model offers a $6 potential savings for every hour an agent works. Multiplied by 100 agents working an eight-hour shift, that comes to $4,800 in savings a day (by way of headcount reductions).

Share the Savings

The pay-per-minute model motivates agents to be productive, maximizing performance for clients and income for themselves.

Call or contact centers can further encourage productivity by sharing some of the bottom-line savings with agents through a slightly higher rate of pay and also pay a substantial bonus to clients.

The cost and savings benefits are obvious. But there’s an equally important client benefit that comes into play in the pay-per-minute model.


Strengthen Brands
Motivated agents invest themselves in the business. Being more engaged, they naturally strengthen the brands they represent. So, when it comes to call or contact center services, which would you rather have? Agents paid by productive minutes—generating savings and building your brand? Or agents paid by the hour—regardless of the actual business value they bring? Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate—or revalue—the industry norm.