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Outsourcing to an Australian Contact Centre
Suppose you have a business in Australia that handles inbound and outbound customer service, sales, technical support and other call centre services. In that case, you may have considered outsourcing to an Australian Contact Centre for some or all of your phone calls.
Now before we get into too much detail, here are a few quick points of clarification.
- A ‘contact’ centre and a ‘call’ centre are essentially the same thing. ‘Contact’ centre is typically a more modern term as most contact centre outsourcers now offer more than just phone call centres with social media, emails, live chat etc typically all part or their solution offer.
- Specifically relating to Call Centre Outsourcers in Australia, they can be referred to by different names including:
- Australian Call Centre BPOs (Business Processing Outsourcers)
- Australian Contact Centre Outsourcing Companies
- Call Answering companies in Australia
- There are also Virtual Assistants that do provide low-volume call-answering services such as the odd overflow call for small businesses.
Outsourcing contact centre services provide several benefits for businesses (listed below) and if you have a customer base that is in Australia, it’s often a primary requirement that those calls continue to get answered onshore (in Australia) as opposed to ‘offshore’ using destinations such as the Philippines, New Zealand, South Africa and so on.
And for Australian Government contact centres like Centrelink, Medicare etc, it is a requirement that those calls must be answered in Australia.
But how do you go about it? How much does it cost? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
The decision to outsource your contact centre typically comes with many questions, so I’ve put together this Outsourcing to an Australian Contact Centre guide to help answer many of the common questions that businesses need to consider when looking to outsource call centre work in particular.
The guide is vendor-agnostic, designed to give you a non-biased perspective on call centre outsourcing in Australia.
Having worked in the contact centre industry in Australia for over 30 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see outsourcing from every perspective – CEO of an outsourcing company, using an outsourcer as a client for multiple businesses and as a consultant helping businesses with their outsourcer strategies.
So I trust this provides you with some comfort this is coming from an informed place!
4 Benefits of call centre outsourcing regardless of location
Whether you are looking for a contact centre in Australia, or an offshore call centre outsourcer they all offer some terrific benefits:
1. Access Instant Expertise
Call Centre Outsourcers are industry professionals who have honed their professional skills over decades of running call centre operations.
And unlike your business which no doubt specialises in something, running efficient and effective call centres is the outsourcers core business.
Their business literally lives or dies on how they serve your customers so they are very much invested in ensuring they get it right. The great outsourcers are, and should be seen as, a genuine partner in your business that together, can help you achieve your business objectives.
So let them focus on managing the customer experience while you focus on your core expertise.
2. It’s Cost-Effective
There are lots of ways a contact centre outsourcer can save you money.
Call centres require lots of support roles to function effectively including HR, IT, Workforce Management (e.g. rosters) recruitment etc which, especially for smaller centres, can be cost-prohibitive.
When you outsource your call centre functions, the outsourcer will provide all the necessary (and highly experienced) support functions so you don’t need to hire them yourself saving you direct labour costs whilst still accessing all those specialist skills including Recruitment, HR, Workforce Management, Reporting Analysts, Dialler Managers, Quality Assurance and more.
Of course, you’ll also benefit from their experience in running efficient operations and using their technology platform which again, can save you a considerable investment.
3. You can scale without the headaches
Typically the call centre outsourcers are responsible for the recruitment of contact centre agents, team leaders, managers and all the support roles.
This can (and does) require a significant amount of effort and cost so by engaging with an outsourcer, this is one less headache you need to worry about.
Call Centre Outsourcers are also great at ramping up (and down) based on seasonal variation or reacting to issues that might crop up in your business that require more or less staff.
4. No need to purchase and maintain costly technology
Whilst a cloud contact centre solution makes accessing the latest technology more affordable than ever, having the technology and using the technology can be two very different things.
With the rapid uptake in Social Media channels, outsourcers can also help you implement a multi-channel or omnichannel solution, implement speech analytics, build and manage complex rosters, design IVR flows for you and more enabling you to access the latest technology for a fraction of the price to go it on you own.
What type of functions can be outsourced?
There is really no limit on what function can be outsourced, albeit there are certainly outsourcers who specialise in some functions more than others.
As a general rule, these are the common functions that are outsourced:
- Customer service – this is a broad bucket that can include a range of different skills across multiple channels like telephones, social media, email and so on. It can include:
- General questions and Answers
- Complaints and escalations
- Billing and payments
- Advice and counselling
- Product recalls
- Emergency response and roadside assistance
- Sales calls including everything from inbound sales, outbound telemarketing, direct response, lead generation, appointment setting, order taking, upselling, fundraising and retention.
- Technical support – Helpdesk support, problem resolution and troubleshooting.
- Collections – either handling inbound payments or making outbound calls to recover outstanding debt.
- Surveys – outbound calls to survey consumers and businesses on a broad range of topics. This can also include database cleansing to improve the quality of your list.
- Fundraising – similar to sales with a focus on raising funds for charities/not-for-profits. This can be both outbound and inbound (charity drives etc.).
Offshore call centres
Whilst this article is primarily about outsourcing to an Australian Contact Centre, it would be unfair of me to not talk about offshore call centres.
COVID caught out many Australian businesses who had offshored 100% of their call centre work overseas so when COVID forced those centres to close (as many countries were not able to offer work from home options for their agents), it was nothing short of a disaster for the companies concerned.
Risk of COVID shutdowns aside, the attraction with moving contact centre work overseas has primarily always been about cost savings and it’s easy to see why when you look at the table below.
However, those savings have often come at a cost.
There has always been a long-held view that no one sends their call centre offshore for a better customer experience.
So if your primary objective of outsourcing your call centre work is to save money, offshoring your call centre is the best option for you.
However, a word of caution on the expected savings
Whilst those hourly rates referred to below can seem appealing, it’s important to note that the cost savings aren’t always as high as you would expect.
The direct costs in managing an offshore call centre can often really add up: more travel costs, more training and the often high turnover of staff in some offshore centres can take the gloss off the expected savings.
What’s harder to quantify however is the cost of a poor customer experience on your customers, with foreign accents (i.e difficulty in communicating) consistently cited as the main source of frustration.
If your existing customers don’t embrace the offshore experience and ultimately leave your business (i.e. turnover), it can be a difficult position to recover from.
And what about new customers?
How many are put off and never become customers?
It’s not all bad!
There are some terrific contact centre outsourcers overseas, just like there are some not-so-good ones here in Australia.
The cheaper rates can enable you to offer extended hours, handle increased volumes (as you can afford to have more agents on) and offer additional services that may not be affordable using call centres based solely in Australia.
The key to any great outsourcing relationship is ensuring your outsourcing partner is equipped with all the tools they need to succeed – training, product/service information, a robust quality assurance program, support from your business and so on.
How much does it cost outsourcing to an Australian contact centre?
There is no question that if cost is your primary driver for outsourcing, offshore call centres will be a far better alternative for you.
As a general guide, the following is the indicative hourly cost for a fully outsourced call centre agent (so everything is included such as agent salary, management, technology, reporting, accommodation etc).
|Country||Hourly Price Guide ($AUD)|
|Australia||$48 to $70|
|New Zealand||$35 to $60|
|Philippines||$8 to $16|
|South Africa||$15 to $25|
|Fiji||$10 to $15|
As you’ll note, for some countries, there is quite a wide range.
The devil really is in the details and often call centre outsourcers use a range of different pricing models making it difficult to compare pricing (refer to the Commercial Models section).
For example, many will advertise a low hourly rate which can seem attractive, but then they add call costs, team leaders, reporting etc or have different rates depending on shift times.
And like any industry, there is a wide range of skills and experience that can have a large influence on pricing.
For example, call centres that focus on B2B or have extensive experience in a particular industry may have higher rates than a ‘general’ call centre that just takes overflow calls for customers.
Pricing models used by Outsourcers in Australia
Whilst I used hourly rates above to make an easier comparison between countries, there are lots of different types of commercial models used by call centre outsourcers in Australia including:
- Per agent, per hour
- Per call or per transaction
- Per outcome (e.g. sale or complaint resolution)
- Base rate (hourly or weekly) plus outcome-based payment or percentage.
The key thing to note is that traditionally, outsourcers have essentially been a margins-based business.
I’m simplifying it somewhat, but like any business, the outsourcer is essentially looking to ensure they make a certain profit margin above their costs.
Outsourcers have fixed costs such as agents, management, facilities, technology etc so at a bare minimum, they need to ensure they cover those costs and then make a margin on top of that.
And the biggest driver in determining the profit margin is the risk.
The lowest risk model for call centre outsourcers in Australia is a flat hourly rate where they know exactly how much they will be paid so that is typically always the most cost-effective model for engaging an outsourcer.
At the other end of the scale, jobs that involve commissions-based selling, appointment settings with success fees etc are the highest risk so ultimately you end up paying a much high rate.
So in simple terms, the higher the risk to the outsourcer, the higher the equivalent hourly rate you will pay.
Partial outsourcing – could it be for you?
For businesses that are getting better at understanding their customers, they can outsource certain types of calls or segments and keep other calls in-house.
For example, you could outsource all your inbound sales calls where its easy to train employees on your products and services and keep the customer service and troubleshooting calls in-house where more expertise is required.
Four common types of segmentation include:
- Functional – selected call types (e.g. sales or service) are handled by the outsourcer.
- Value-based – defined customers are routed to the call centre outsourcer. They could include high or low-value customers.
- Time-based – designed to support existing in-house operations during peak periods or during certain times (e.g. night shift).
- Overflow – designed to support existing in-house operations only during peak periods or to handle ad-hoc campaigns.
There are lots of ways to segment calls, from using the IVR (press 2 for this, 2 for that) or different phone numbers through to integration with CRM systems, Web Voice Synchronisation and lots more.
Your outsourcer will be able to guide you on the right approach.
Why is it so expensive to outsource call centre work in Australia?
It’s not exactly a secret that Australian salaries are considered high compared to many other countries around the world.
So if we put that to one side, why can outsourcing prices still seem so high in Australia?
The current Australian award rate for contact centres is $24.87 (Customer Contact Officer Level 1) so a range of $45 to $60 may still seem high.
The $45 to $60 hourly rate is fully outsourced meaning it includes things like the management team and supporting roles like HR, WFM etc as well as building costs, technology etc.
Team Leaders, Centre Managers, trainers, Quality Assurance, coaches and more are all critical components in having an effective contact centre operations and with an outsourcer, you get the benefits of these roles and services without the full expense.
And by the time you add in Superannuation (currently 10 increasing to 12% in 2025), workers insurance (different in every state), recruitment and training, the procurement and management of the technology infrastructure etc there isn’t a significant margin left for the call centre outsourcers.
Yes, you might pay a small premium above doing it yourself, but without the stress of constantly finding and managing staff, learning, managing and optimising technology, building overheads etc plus with their years of experience, outsourcers typically run far more efficient operations than captive centres so the net price is the same if not cheaper without all the headaches.
Is there a minimum amount of calls that can be outsourced?
There is a range of solution providers in the marketplace that can help with everything from handling a few calls through to managing your entire customer experience. In fact, there are a number of providers who specialise in call centre services for small businesses.
Some Australian contact centre providers also specialise in contingency planning – so the only time they’ll ever get a call is if something goes wrong which, of course, is hopefully never.
So whether you’re just expecting a few calls a week or thousands of calls a day there are outsourcing companies there to assist.
That said, some outsourcers DO have minimum requirements so if you’re not sure what’s right for your business, refer to our section below on how to find the right call centre outsourcing partner in Australia.
Where can you find Australian contact centre outsourcers?
It can be a little daunting trying to find the right outsourcing solution for your business but don’t worry, at ACXPA we’ve got you covered!
We’ve got two completely free services to help you find a call centre outsourcer in Australia or overseas:
ACXPA Supplier Directory
Search a list of the call centre outsourcers in Australia on the official ACXPA Supplier Directory.
Use filters to help find outsourcers by state, skillset, speciality and more along with contact details and information about their business.
Use our free CX Connect service to help connect you to outsourcers best suited to your requirements.
The outsourcing wizard will guide you through your requirements and then connect you with the most suited outsourcers.
There are many benefits in outsourcing to an Australian contact centre, whether it’s for your customer service calls, sales calls, overflow etc., and the great BPOs can become an extension of your business and be a key partner in helping with your success.
As you would do with any potential relationship, make sure you do your due diligence and if you need a hand in finding the right call centre outsourcing supplier for your business, I encourage you to use the free CX Connect Service and the call centre outsourcing wizard – I designed it to help you think about all the things a call centre outsourcer is going to need to know to provide you with some accurate pricing estimates.
All the best with your journey and if you found this guide useful, please click the heart below and feel free to connect with me on Linkedin.
- About the Author
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After spending over 30 years working in contact centres and CX, one thing I’ve learnt is there is always something more to learn!
I’m thrilled to be the inaugural CEO of ACXPA, and together with the rest of the team, we’re focused on helping Australian businesses deliver efficient and effective customer experiences via phone, digital and in-person by empowering their employees with the skills, industry insights and professional support networks they need to succeed.