Click to Visit

Click to Visit

Industry Research Research Insight: Cost Per Contact (Phone & E-Mail)

One question on the minds of many support professionals is how their organization's support costs measure up to what other's are achieving. In an effort to gain insight into this question, recently asked members to report their cost per contact for both the phone and e-mail channels. 

But before we get into the numbers, a quick word on how to calculate cost per contact. In surveys, it can be difficult to take the numbers at face value because the assumptions behind the answers can vary. However, I think an insight into one of the most popular methods of calculating cost per call is warranted.

According to Dave Brown, President of Support Center University (,  one of the most popular methods is the ‘cost per solution provided’ method, in which the costs associated with the different means of providing support solutions, such as telephone, email, and web self-service, are separated. Because this method often proves that certain methods (i.e. web self-service) is more cost efficient, it has become a valuable management tool for justifying additional investment in those areas that are proven to be more efficient (cost in relation to effectiveness).

One of the biggest challenges in utilizing this method is determining what expenses to include and, consequently, which not to include. You should always include all of those items that are carried in the Support budget and are directly related to delivering customer support. This includes all of the staff/personnel expenses, such as salaries/payroll, payroll taxes, benefits, and bonuses.

It should also include all costs that are directly attributable to the personnel, such as training and other expenses. These expenses are usually calculated on a ‘per head’ basis or as a percentage of the payroll. Support expenses also include related expenses such as phones, mail, supplies, etc.

Although, says Brown, there is not one 'perfect' method all companies, the 'cost per solution provided' gives management a relatively complete picture of these metrics.

Now, back to the numbers! Nearly 70% of respondents report that the cost per for the phone channel is $24 or less at level 1.

For many organizations, the phone is the most expensive support channel. This is why so many try their best to entice customers to use alternate channels, such as web self-service, chat, or e-mail. In this survey, 54% of respondents report their cost per e-mail for Level 1 is less than $10.

To get your full copy of the research brief, including the cost per contact for Level 2,
click here.

(Please note: you will need your member log in to access this file).

Not a member? Click here to sign up for your free membership.