Mercer Releases Call Center Compensation Survey

November 4, 2002 ( - The 2002 Call Center Compensation Survey shows call center pay continues to increase as companies show a growing dependence on call center employees for more business functions, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

Respondents reported those issues requiring the most attention in their call centers today: turnover, base pay increases, paying for 24/7 work, and multilingual employees.


Call center operators report a lack of qualified candidates as their biggest recruiting barrier.   The best recruitment techniques have been employee referrals, local newspaper ads, and career fairs.   Additionally, Mercer found the retention techniques that are the most effective are recognition programs, a favorable work environment and high-quality supervision.  

Base pay increases

Call centers operators are budgeting for increases of 3.5-3.7% in 2003 up from 3.5-3.6% in 2002.   Additionally the dynamic of the call center job has become more focused on sales.   With this, operators are mixing base pay with variable pay based on achievement of individual objectives, level of service provided and achievement of department and team objectives.   The survey revealed median total cash compensation, including base salary and annual incentive, for various call center jobs:

  • Outbound with selling – $10.55/hour
  • Inbound order entry – $10.90/hour
  • Inbound with selling – $11.09/hour
  • Technical support – $11.37/hour
  • Customer service – $11.97/hour
  • Internet – $13.50/hour
  • Credit/collections – $12.60/hour
  • Full account management – $13.78/hour

Paying for 24/7 work

The survey indicates call centers are open a median of 364 days a year.   Shift differentials are being offered by 70% of respondents on various shifts:

  • Weekday second shifts – $0.87 an hour
  • Weekday third shift – $1.28 an hour
  • Weekend second shift – $1.68 an hour
  • Weekend third shift – $1.94 an hour  

Additionally, premiums are offered by 78% of respondents for holidays worked, typically 1.5 times hourly base pay.

Multilingual employees

Forty-one percent of respondents are paying a mean premium of $1.08 an hour to multilingual employees.   With call centers now focusing on internet business as well, operators typically look proficiency in both speaking and writing before classifying an employee as bilingual.   Currently, Spanish ranks as the language most in demand.

Mercer surveyed 329 organizations with more than 327,000 employees in 1,541 call centers nationwide. For more information, or to purchase the complete survey, go to .