You know that recruiting and retaining an in-house Customer Service Representative isn’t cheap. But how much does the single employee REALLY cost your business?
We’ve compiled some of the figures that can sometimes be easily overlooked.
Salary, equipment and space
The average UK salary for a Customer Service Representative is £18,579 per annum. An employer will also need to pay £1,444 towards national insurance on top of that salary.
To support your new Customer Service Representative, you will need to resource all IT equipment and software, and provide an appropriately-proportioned workspace (according to UK Health & Safety regulations, every employee should be allocated 11 cubic metres, with easy and safe access to their workspace).
Employees working five days a week (37.5hrs+) are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday per annum. That’s an equivalent to one calendar month off work. If you employ someone just for your busiest period, such as the Christmas seasonal period (November to January), they will be entitled to six days’ holiday under UK law.
Holiday is important to your employees, but it can affect your customer service standards – especially if you only have a few people trained to handle all types of enquiries.
Average UK staff turnover across all industries is 15%, but the average for a person working within a customer services role is closer to 20%.
Therefore, if you employ a five-strong customer service team, at least one is likely leave your company within the year. Each departing team member will also represent time and money spent on sourcing and training them in the first place.
There is also the chance that your newly employed customer service representative might not be as reliable as you might have hoped for – particularly if they’ve been employed on a short-term basis.
Getting your agent up to speed
Training timescales will be specific to your organisation, but there’s no doubt it can take time for a new employee to get up to speed with your systems and processes. Indeed, research from Unum suggests it can take between 12-28 weeks for an employee to reach the ‘optimum productivity level’.
You’ll also need to take into account how much of your time or their managers time will be taken up managing this person whilst in employment, you’ll be surprised how much time one employee can take up.
Recruiting a Customer Service Representative
If you employ a Customer Service Representative through a recruitment agency, and they’re on the UK national average wage of £18,579, you can expect to pay the recruiter a 17% fee (£3,158) for their services. This fee will of course vary depending on the recruiter you select and the salary that you have offered to the successful candidate.
If you need to recruit customer service representatives on a regular basis, you may be able to strike a deal to reduce the payment for each employed member of staff. But, is this an expense worth paying for on a regular basis?
Employee pension contributions
Since October 2012, employers have been legally obliged to offer a pension scheme to their employees. For an employee to qualify they need to earn at least £10,000 per annum, must be aged 22 and above and work within the UK.
If the employee is below 22, they can still join the pension scheme; however the employer doesn’t have to contribute if they earn below or equal to £486 a month.
On a salary of £18,579 (national average for a customer service agent) the employer must contribute the following:
- £127.55 employer contribution per year (up to March 2018)
- £255.10 employer contribution per year (up to Apr 2018-Mar 2019)
- £382.65 employer contribution per year (up to Apr 2019 onwards)
Once you’ve employed a Customer Service Representative, you will need to make sure they have the necessary tools and equipment for their role, including workstation, telephone and PC.
You’ll also need to factor in ‘space’, where will they go in the office? How much room will they need? Who should sit closest to them to help them out in their induction period?
* This is a breakdown of the £1,280 figure quoted in the ‘salary, equipment and space’ section of the infographic.
Sickness and unplanned absence
While the average UK employee takes 6.9 sick days per year, customer service representatives take 7.7. This equates to a median cost of £554 per employee.
Sick days have other consequences too. They’re an inconvenience to employers and their colleagues, who will need to pick up the absentee’s workload, which will in turn prevent your other employees from focusing on their primary tasks. There’s also the risk they could spread illness to other members of the team.
Ultimately, it may have an impact on the overall quality of customer services that you provide.
Counting the cost
We’ve estimated the first year total cost of an in-house Customer Service Representative to be £25,142; this takes into account their salary, recruitment fees, pension contributions, equipment and sick days.
That excludes the cost of other issues – like time taken to reach full productivity – that are likely to add to your overall costs.
But there is an alternative to expanding your internal teams.
By passing elements of your operation to an experienced outsourced supplier, you may be able to sidestep many of the costs (and uncertainties) associated with in-house growth. Their experience and capability is also likely to offer service benefits to your customers.
If you’d like to find out how outsourcing your customer services could help relieve the pressure on your business, please get in touch.