Pay a Little More, Get a Lot More

June 18, 2015

It’s pretty much a given that call centers are A) stressful places to work; B) have a high rate of staff turnover; and C) don’t pay all that well. But one industry insider has made a strong case that if you fix that third point, the other two might take care of themselves.

Randy Rubingh is Director of Customer Service for online ticket giant StubHub. As such, he’s got some inside knowledge on the workings of what makes a call center effective. He recently shared his thoughts about workers and their wages on the blog page of inContact, the cloud call center leader.

“We [the industry] view the call center as an entry-level position and pay accordingly. Because of the large percentage of company employees in the call center, call center labor costs are a high proportion of the overall company budget and the customer service organization is pressured to keep CSRs’ salaries low,” he said. “As a result, it is difficult to find good employees who can deliver high quality service and who are committed to the organization for the long term.”

Rubingh related how at a recent industry seminar, he asked attendees how many felt call centers reps were the most important brand ambassadors in their company. All hands went up he said, but his follow-up question asking how many were paid accordingly didn’t elicit such a strong response.

“It’s true that if you hire hundreds of agents, paying even one dollar an hour more will add up very quickly. This is, of course, why call centers traditionally, especially for lower skilled positions, offer low rates of pay — usually about 20 percent above minimum wage,” Rubingh observed. “This low rate of pay does save money in the short run. However, when you began to consider the different levels of agents and add in the total cost per rep, per transaction, you will likely find investing in higher qualified reps will save you money in the long run.”

Rubingh spells out his logic more completely on the blog, but the bottom line is this: While it might seem at first blush that paying more costs more, Rubingh shows how paying better motivates workers, which leads to higher customer satisfaction, better customer retention and lower overall costs.

His reasoning gives voice to the old adage, “It takes money to make money.”

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