Call Center Metrics: Cost Per Transaction

Find out what a call center’s cost per transaction is, how to understand its cost benchmarks and more.

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Find out why cost per transaction is an important key performance indicator (KPI) to measure. The primary purpose of cost per transaction is to measure the efficiency of transactions performed within a contact center. However, it’s important to evaluate cost per transaction as it relates to specific business goals and initiatives implemented to achieve these goals.

Contact centers are an incredibly important component of a business. Not only are they vital for defining and sustaining the customer experience, they also drive brand loyalty and even sales revenue. Yet, they don’t operate without overhead. There are many costs to effectively run a successful contact center. Because of this, it’s essential to keep these in check to ensure long-term profitability while still maintaining customer service quality. This is where cost per transaction comes into play.

Cost per transaction enables contact centers to measure the efficiency of service. There are two steps to calculate this metric.

  • Determine the total cost of providing the transaction, including any digital costs and through all channels
  • Divide it by the total number of completed transactions



With the rapid adoption of digital channels, defining costs is not as clear as it once was when contact centers had a single voice channel. Contact centers of today typically measure cost-per-call, cost-per-contact and cost-per-transaction.

There are certainly blurred lines between these benchmarks. However, they all include certain expenses, including:

  • Direct, indirect and management labor costs
  • Benefits and incentives
  • Training and recruitment
  • Outsource call center support
  • Hardware and software
  • Occupancy

Fully loaded with these expenses, the cost of a transaction is considerably higher than if only the cost of an agent’s time for managing the transaction is included.

The key to optimizing the cost per transaction is to strike a balance of efficiency and effectiveness. Here are 10 ways to reduce cost per transaction within a contact center that can produce a positive impact on both the customer experience and the bottom line.

Establish Clear Goals to Measure
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Before you can begin to understand the cost per transaction, it’s essential to define cost and service level standards that you’re striving to achieve. This includes establishing a budget that defines cost per transaction.

Focus on Hiring, Training and Coaching
The right team can make all the difference when you’re focused on lowering cost per transaction. Smart hiring is essential to ensure they have the right set of traits and skills to support your customer experience goals. They must also have the product and service knowledge to communicate effectively with customers and resolve issues in a timely manner. In other words, professional, skilled teams can dramatically reduce the cost-per-transaction.

Monitor Calls
Gain insights on how agents are performing by monitoring calls. Improvement areas can be identified and addressed to enhance the customer experience and reduce cost-per-transaction.

Use Callback
During peak times, customers can opt out of the queue to instead receive a callback. This reduces wait time, call abandonment and caller frustration.

Implement Skill-Based Routing
Traditional queue-based routing is not efficient in getting callers to the right agent the first time. By using skill-based routing, callers can be routed to agents with preferred skill-sets based on their specific profile and needs. This reduces call handling time and increases the rate of first call resolutions.

Integrate CRM into the Contact Center Platform
Agents can dramatically improve their ability to help callers if they have customer information on a single agent desktop integrated with CRM. By giving agents key customer details in a simplified form, conversations are more meaningful, and calls can be handled faster.

Optimize Self-Service Channels
Many transactions can be efficiently handled by self-service channels, such as IVR, mobile apps and virtual assistants. Customers often prefer these fast, convenient channels, too. Self-service channels offer 24/7 service and save valuable human resources for handling more complex issues and escalated calls.

Add an Informational On-Hold Message
On-hold messages are valuable tools in reducing cost per transaction. During wait times, these messages can provide callers with useful information, such as referring them to the website or other self-service channels to manage their transaction.

Consider Outsourcing
While not all outsourcing providers offer services that will be aligned with your customer experience, there are plenty that offer high quality solutions that can be seamlessly aligned to provide quality service. In some cases, these providers can help lower overall cost per transaction.

Reduce Service Levels
The commonly accepted standard service level is to answer 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds. Yet, acceptable service levels differ dramatically from industry to industry. Instead of trying to fit a one-size fits-all standard, consider what is acceptable to your specific customer segments. In many cases, reducing these service levels slightly will still maintain a quality customer experience. By doing this, staffing levels can be adjusted, and the cost-per-transaction can be reduced.

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