Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on May 27th, 2022

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How Much Do Mistakes Cost Your Call Center? (8 Examples)

The great American painter, Bob Ross, always had a great attitude toward painting mistakes. He was known for calling mistakes “happy accidents.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could approach call center mistakes like Bob Ross? But, it’s hard to do that when they cost your company hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While mistakes happen, many call center mistakes are preventable. If your policies and procedures are clearly documented (and your agents follow those call flows on every call), your agents won’t make these mistakes.

As the Director of Transformational Services at ScreenSteps — a knowledge base company that helps with call center performance — I’ve talked to many call center customers about their life before and after ScreenSteps.

One call center customer is saving millions by creating clearer call flows and documentation that helps call center agents to avoid mistakes. They learned that what they thought were inevitable mistakes they needed to budget for were preventable.

Here are eight scenarios where call center reps make mistakes and what they cost your call center. This will help you identify areas where agents may be making unnecessary mistakes in your call center. In the end, we’ll share a tip for preventing these errors.

Call Center Pitfalls eBook

1. Reps fail performance compliance

Compliance is a common sore spot for many businesses. When your employees make mistakes by incorrectly performing compliance procedures, your company is at risk of being fined.

A branch employee at a bank who does NOT do a transaction according to procedures can result in a fine. This makes audit season especially intimidating.

In 2020, banks in the United States were fined a total of $11.11 billion for failing different compliance protocols, according to Finbold. The protocols include violations of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), personal data leaks, and more.

According to a report by Kyckr, the average fine for an AML violation in 2021 was $34,151,271.

While your industry might not have as steep of fines, you are losing money every time your employees get a compliance procedure wrong. Those mistakes add up quickly.

Beyond fines, these mistakes can lead to lost business (not to mention a public relations headache).

2. Remediation from audit findings

If a business has internal and external audit findings (a result of employees making mistakes), it costs money to remediate.

An audit could find that agents have been using an outdated procedure that charged $5 less for a service fee. Or audits could discover that agents are doing a few extra steps in a procedure that aren’t necessary.

It’s difficult to say how much audit findings can cost your company, but they could be costing your company hundreds to millions of dollars.

3. Reps not knowing or following updated procedures

If your company documents your policies and procedures but your reps don’t know how to follow those procedures, your agents will make more mistakes.

Say a company that replaces equipment comes up with a new shipping procedure to save costs. If employees don’t follow the procedure, it can cost millions of dollars.

These are unnecessary mistakes. If changes in procedures are clearly communicated or updated procedures are available to agents, then you can avoid mistakes.

🔎 Related: How To Improve Call Center Performance Metrics and KPIs (4 Ways)

4. Reps unnecessarily replace equipment

When you provide products as a service, sometimes those products don’t work properly and need to be replaced. That’s part of the business.

Sometimes call center reps replace equipment without the equipment working correctly because they don’t know all the steps for troubleshooting.

If call center agents troubleshoot equipment errors and incorrectly determine that a machine is broken and needs to be replaced, it can cost millions of dollars of shipping and delivery expenses as well as the expense of the equipment you used to replace the “broken” equipment.

A smaller product like an internet browser could cost your company as little as $60 to replace, but those mistakes add up — especially when the router isn’t actually broken.

5. Reps unnecessarily sending field technicians into the field

If somebody calls in complaining about something and the rep sends out a field technician when they could have solved the problem over the phone, that mistake is unnecessarily costing your call center money.

At this point, your sunk costs are your technician’s time as well as the gas to transport your technician to the assignment.

With the average field technician wage coming around $19 per hour according to ZipRecruiter, that’s a minimum of $38 for a service call without calculating the cost of gas.

🔎 Related: 7 Software Tools to Help Improve Call Center Agent Performance

6. Escalate calls because of troubleshooting mistakes

When a support agent doesn’t know how to handle a call or makes a mistake while troubleshooting, they need to escalate the ticket to a higher level.

With transfers and escalated calls, you are paying a higher amount per minute for that phone call to be resolved. That accounts for the extra time your agents are spending trying to help one customer as well as the higher salary you are paying the higher-level agent to handle this common call.

It’s difficult to say how much this could be costing your call center. Depending on your company, this could be hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

Ideally, your call center agents should be able to troubleshoot any call. This reduces the amount of time your callers need to spend on hold as they are transferred from agent to agent.

How to calculate the cost per minute

You can calculate how much it costs your call center for every minute your agents are on the phone with a customer. Calculate your total operational costs for a given time period and divide them by the total number of calls during that time period.

Cost per call = Total costs/Total calls

7. Skipping steps in activating accounts

If a support agent reactivates a customer account but misses a step resulting in the customer account being deleted, you must pay developers to go back to the database and restore the account.

Besides the rep who is already helping your customer reactivate their account, you also need to pull in a developer. You now are paying two people to handle a job that could have easily been avoided with a checklist or clear step-by-step instructions.

The sunk cost in this situation is just the employees’ salary.

8. Needing to call people back

When your agents need to call people to handle a situation, that is twice the amount of work. It means your agents are spending more time on one issue. Plus, it doesn’t achieve your first call resolution goal.

This could mean an agent incorrectly handled a transaction/situation resulting in a follow-up call to resolve the issue. These repeat transactions cost your call center money.

It’s a simple calculation: The more calls you have and the more time your agents spend talking to callers, the more it costs your company. This calculation also uses the cost per minute equation above.

Prevent unnecessary mistakes with clearly written call flows

Your agents’ mistakes are costing your company money. But, it isn’t always their fault that they are making mistakes. Call center agents need clear call flows and other documentation resources to avoid making mistakes on the job.

A ScreenSteps knowledge base makes it easy to create and update your documentation, including call flows, call center scripts, policies, procedures, and more. It takes up to 75% less time to document call flows in ScreenSteps.

Plus, agents call find calls in as few as two clicks. This means they don’t have to put callers on hold to find answers and instructions.

Need help writing clear call flows for your call center? Download this free call flow template. The template will help you create call flows that include all the necessary information for agents to perform procedures without making mistakes.

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About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success