Salary study: do your wages match up?

Filed under - Call Centre Life,

What are the best- and worst-paid locations for inbound contact centres across the UK? Here, Sarah Allen provides some key figures on the state of UK inbound pay rates and offers up some advice on how to go about benchmarking your contact centre.

What I find strange about UK contact centres is the way they understand the dangers in comparing UK and offshore HR data together very well, but don’t use the same level of care when comparing themselves against domestic benchmarks.No self-respecting travel call centre handling inbound calls from Manchester, with great staff travel incentives and low attrition, is going to compare themselves to a cold-calling outbound telesales outsourcer in the utility business calling UK customers from Chenai, India.

Regional best and worst
Let’s start with the best and worst paying regions…


Inbound job title Best paying regions Worst paying regions
Agent South-East
Greater London
Northern Ireland
Team leader South-East
East Midlands
Northern Ireland
Supervisor South-East
East Midlands
Yorkshire & Humberside
West Midlands
Contact centre manager South-West
West Midlands
Northern Ireland
Director of operations Greater London
Northern Ireland

From my point of view, this shows us that there is a very mixed labour market within the UK. There is a strong mix between high and low ratings across the regions, reflecting the changing installed base. For example, we continue to see the position of the South East of England as generally paying the highest salaries in agent, team leader and supervisor roles. Meanwhile, the highest paid contact centre managers are actually in the South West of England.

Inbound team leaders
We can see from the table below that, after the South-East, the South-West and East Midlands pay the most for team leaders, with Scotland and the North-East paying the lowest salaries.

South-East 26,446
South-West 23,824
East Midlands 21,781
Wales 21,537
North-West 21,180
South 20,890
Greater London 20,803
National mean 20,687
West Midlands 20,567
Yorkshire & Humberside 20,259
Northern Ireland 20,241
North-East 18,678
Scotland 18,348

Inbound supervisor
The national mean average for inbound supervisors is 26,250 per annum. It does not surprise me to find that the South-East is nearly 4,000 above the next highest location, with Scotland pulling the national mean figure up quite markedly as the table below shows.

South-East 31,050
Scotland 27,687
National mean 26,250
North-East 25,668
South-West 25,363
Greater London 25,130
South 24,567
Wales 24,338
Northern Ireland 24,190
North-West 23,995
East Midlands 23,554
Yorkshire & Humberside 23,225
West Midlands 22,235

Inbound contact centre managers
Moving on to the more senior roles, the average pay for an inbound contact centre manager is currently 38,975 per annum before bonuses. The range of pay in this role is very broad as the table below shows, with Northern Ireland again tagging behind at almost 12,000 below this figure. It may be surprising to see South-West managers at the top of the table, but Mitial has previously reported this phenomenon.

South-West 44,500
Scotland 42,700
South-East 42,005
Greater London 41,339
North-West 40,487
National mean 38,975
East Midlands 38,491
North-East 37,110
Yorkshire & Humberside 36,910
South 36,826
West Midlands 36,500
Wales 36,317
Northern Ireland 26,220

Inbound director of operations
If I now ask you to look at ‘inbound directors of operations’, we see London and the South-East at the top of the table. However, interestingly, the national average is just 4,500 lower. Only Wales and Northern Ireland sit well off the mark.

Greater London 59,685
South-East 58,451
North-East 58,262
South-West 57,000
East Midlands 56,600
South 56,583
West Midlands 56,550
National mean 55,243
North-West 54,208
Yorkshire & Humberside 54,143
Scotland 52,513
Northern Ireland 46,333
Wales 43,329

Inbound agents
Now let’s look at inbound agents’ average pay. From the chart below you’ll see that the lowest paid inbound agents are in Northern Ireland, but the gap between Northern Ireland and other locations has definitely narrowed, reflecting the strengthening value-add proposition from Northern Ireland.
The highest paid agents are meanwhile based in the South-East, Greater London, North-West England and Scotland.

South-East 17,558
Greater London 16,107
North-West 15,639
Scotland 15,570
South 15,565
National mean 15,458
Wales 15,188
East Midlands 15,006
Yorkshire & Humberside 14,422
West Midlands 14,321
South-West 13,961
North-East 13,816
Northern Ireland 13,662

Final thoughts
So, what does this all show us? Inevitably, it tells us that the generally accepted views on expensive and less expensive places to operate has really become obsolete. The pattern is far more mixed than we imagined, and this has to be considered more carefully than ever before.

Most UK contact centres will happily compare themselves to neighbouring call centres in their own city, even though these neighbours may be in different verticals, perform completely different types of work, and may even have different call-flow directions.

If we bring in variations between public and private sector, profits and charities and in-house and outsourcers, we can really see the dangers in this type of HR benchmarking.

How, then, do you ensure you get a fair idea of how much you should be paying and rewarding inbound call centre staff in your sector and location?

My advice is, where possible, to look at centres in your own sector and in close proximity to you. The following data splits – or filters – should help you hone things down:

Employee tenure Agency-supplied staff? Payroll staff? Both agency and payroll staff?
Vertical market Finance? Outsourcer? Telecoms? Market Research? Hotel, holiday and leisure? Retail? Police? Local government? National government departments? Utilities? IT? Transport? Industry? Charity?
Size 4-19? 20-49? 50-99? 100-199? 200-499? 500-999? 1,000-1,999? 2,000-4,999? 5,000+?
Call flow Inbound? Outbound? Blended inbound and outbound?
Function Customer services? Telemarketing/sales? Order-taking? Reservations? Helpdesk? Debt collection? Information? Market research? Web support?
Language Single (English)? Single (other language)? Bi-lingual (Welsh and English, for example)? Multi-lingual?
Contact centre type In-house? Outsourcer?
Region By country and region. For example: Country: South Africa, UK, France, Spain, India, Philippines; Region: Gauteng, Western Cape, North-West England, Metro Manila

By using filters, you can search and create a profile that is far closer to your own type of business. It also allows you to be more selective in scrutinising benchmarks based on knowing how the filter is generated.

But enough on the background information. I suspect you’re eager to find out just what you should be paying – or should be being paid – if you’re in an inbound call centre here in the UK.

While it would be impossible to provide a breakdown to the depth of filter I’ve suggested above, what we’ve been able to do here is to evaluate average (mean) basic salaries in different regions.

Sarah Allen is research director at analyst house Mitial
Tel: +44 8707 60 70 90

Mitial Research – in partnership with the Call Centre Management Association and Local Authority Contact Centre Benchmarking Group – has recently completed a comprehensive study on UK salary and rewards. The study was part of a ramp-up towards an interactive salary and rewards benchmark service now being offered commercially by Mitial.

To read the latest 2012 salary survey results, please click here.

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 9th Oct 2007 - Last modified: 19th Dec 2018
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1 Comment
  • An Indian call centre agent will be earning 1/10th of that if they’re lucky – about 62p per hour, or about 1p per minute. Less than you’re paying BT for the phone call.

    Chinnybob 14 Aug at 15:16