2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report

Introducing the 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report

UPDATE!!! The 2023 Contact Centre Industry Report is now available >

After the popularity of the 2019 Australian Contact Centre Industry Report, the team at SMAART Recruitment have again pulled together another great report with the 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report.

Last years 2019 report was 46 pages and it’s certainly ramped up in this year’s report with a whopping 100 pages of fantastic local contact centre benchmarking data!

The data was collated in early to mid-2020 (mostly pre COVID) so to ensure there was the very latest data, this report also includes the results from a recent supplementary survey to specifically track the influence COVID has made.

Over 160 contact centres in Australia completed this year’s survey from smaller centres through to some of the large corporates across a range of industry sectors including Banking and Finance, Utilities, Insurance, Public Service, Not For Profit, Education, Retail and so on.

Most contact centres were located in the CBD regions (57%) with 36% in the suburbs and 12% outside of the capital cities (e.g. regional areas).

Another change this year was engaging industry experts to help contribute to the writing of the report along with providing some commentary on key findings, best-practice tips and future predictions.

Contributing experts to 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Report are:

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2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report Highlights

We’ve listed below just some of the key highlights of the 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report below with lots of additional information contained within the 100-page report that you can obtain for free directly from SMAART Recruitment >

Team Leaders

Often described as the most important role in the contact centre, the contact centre team leader certainly has one of the most demanding roles and they can have a huge influence on your centre’s culture and performance.

Some key highlights from this year’s 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report:

  • 45% of centres reported that Coaching and Development are their Team Leaders biggest weakness yet 75% of centres rated it the most important function of a Team Leader.
  • 27% of a Team Leaders time is spent taking calls rather than leading and coaching.
  • 18% of Team Leaders do not have any KPIs.
  • 46% of Team Leaders have a monthly one on one with their agents.
  • The average team size (from the 2019 report) is 11.7 agents and no surprise, both Team Leaders and agents prefer smaller team sizes.



Modern Ways of Working

Contact centres are constantly evolving with agile methodology and remote working becoming more prominent throughout 2020.

COVID has also impacted contact centres in other ways – retail outlets closing, challenges with distribution, change to policies and procedures etc are all providing the contact centre channel with an opportunity to shine within their respective organisations.

  • Only 20% of contact centres feel their value is very well understood by the broader organisation
  • Pre COVID, 7% of contact centre agents worked remotely and that has quickly jumped to 58% of a contact centre workforce working from home on any given day.
  • 62% of leaders say they don’t have enough time to work on strategic work for the contact centre
  • 63% of contact centres have a continuous improvement program in place

Mental Health

There has never been more focus on mental health in society and in some ways, this is reflected in the contact centre environment as well with managers acutely aware of the importance of managing mental health in the workplace.

Accordingly, in this years 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report we’ve included a section specifically on Mental Health that revealed:

  • 74% of contact centre leaders rate mental health importance 8 (out of 10) or higher.
  • 48% of contact centres have no budget to address mental health in their workplace.
  • 54% of contact centres have staff that have mental health first aid training.
  • 79% of contact centres have provided extra mental health resources/assistance during the pandemic.

Absenteeism & Attrition

Consistently one of the challenges for the contact centre industry, managing absenteeism and attrition is never far from most contact centre manager’s minds.

There does appear to be a shift in 2020 results with improved retention rates perhaps reflective of those in employment unwilling to leave due to the uncertain job market.

  • Average absenteeism is 10% on any given day.
  • 31% of contact centres struggle with attendance related issues.
  • 69% of contact centres have a plan in place to reduce absenteeism however only 46% felt it’s been effective.
  • 82% of contact centres require the agents to call in to report sick leave with nearly all centres requiring the agent to contact a leader (either their direct manager or another on-duty manager).
  • Turnover – Average turnover is 45% annually (consistent with 2019) with 44% of those leaving to other internal roles and 56% leaving the business altogether.
  • Retention has increased with 73% of new agents still employed after 12 months (up from 67% in 2019).
  • 53% of contact centres have no plans in place to reduce attrition.
  • Tenure – Average tenure is 22 months for frontline agents (from 2019 report).

Employee Engagement

Creating and maintaining employee engagement has long been a challenge and based on this year’s 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, it seems that as an industry we are making some good progress.

  • Average Employee Engagement score was 72% with 93% of leaders suggesting their results was about the same or higher than what was expected. Of course, that means 28% of the workforce are not engaged so there is still lots of work to be done.
  • 44% of contact centres reported that the engagement levels for the contact centre was higher than in other areas of the organisation.
  • The most common initiatives to improve engagement were related to incentives/Reward & Recognition, Culture/Fun and Staff Development.
  • 49.23% of contact centres measure Employee Satisfaction annually (from 2019 report).



Customer Experience 

How and where the contact centre plays a role in the broader Customer Experience (CX) space is continuing to evolve as businesses look for ways to increase their market share, profitability and efficiency by being more customer-centric.

Terms like Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score etc are more commonplace and the importance on shorter wait times, higher customer satisfaction etc are getting plenty of board room attention.

Whilst it’s great to get the organisational spotlight shining on the contact centre, it also comes with increased expectations on the contact centre performance and a more strategic approach to contact centre operations.

  • 61% of contact centres do not have a Customer Service Vision.
  • NPS and First Call Resolution are the most common measures used to capture customer experience performance.
  • Email surveys are the most common method used to obtain customer feedback.
  • 34% of contact centres now report on 5 or more key metrics to the Board or Senior Executive team.
  • The most common number of calls assessed to determine a quality score is 3-4 (37%).
  • Only 50% of contact centres are using a Knowledge Management tool.


Technology continues to change the landscape of the modern contact centre with Speech Analytics, Cloud Contact Centre, AI and more all having an impact on how customer contacts are managed.

  • Not surprisingly there has been a significant uptake of video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams (48%) and Zoom (30%).
  • Speech Analytics, Webchat and Chatbots are the top three priorities for technology investments.
  • Call recording, IP telephony and Workforce Management systems are the technologies most likely to be upgraded or replaced in the near future.
  • Investment in Machine Learning is increasing with 27% of contact centres planning to implement it  during 2020/21.
  • Speech Recognition and Social Media investment appears to be low despite some of the benefits they can deliver.


The use of offshore contact centres has always been quite an emotive topic and in this year’s 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, we dug deeper to find out the key reasons for outsourcing, which ways the trends are pointing, whether there was any quality impacts and more.

  • The number of contact centres using offshore resources reduced from 31% in 2019 to 25% in 2020
  • Outsourcers are commonly used for offshore contact centre work (56%) followed by centres running their own offshore operations (37%).
  • The Philippines remains the most popular country for outsourcing (44%) followed by New Zealand (19%). With the withdrawal of some companies from South Africa, it now only accounts for 4% of offshore work. India remains popular for back-office work (44%).
  • Calls sent offshore are either the same level of complexity (50%) or less complex (50%).
  • Speed to competency for offshore agents is a bit longer (42%) or much longer (12%).
  • The main driver for using offshore locations is to reduce cost (61%) followed by operational flexibility (23%).
  • COVID has certainly impacted contact centre offshoring with the general sentiment appearing to favour bringing more call centre work back to Australia.


In this years 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, the team at SMAART Recruitment undertook a much deeper analysis into salaries capturing market trends, bonuses etc across multiple roles.

One of the findings is that recruitment of high-quality team Leaders for Sales and Help Desk roles is challenging due to limited supply and while there are more applicants for Customer Service Team Leader roles, it is often difficult to determine their coaching, leadership and development skills.

Here is just a small sample of some of the contact centre salaries information for 2020:

  • Average Salaries in 2020
    • Customer Service agent – $53,066 + super with an average bonus of $1,999
    • Outbound sales – $53,758 with an average bonus of $10,528 plus super
    • Blended Sales & Service – $53,450 with an average bonus of $3,156 plus super
    • Customer Service Team Leaders – $74,500 with an average bonus of $4,500 plus super
    • Contact Centre Manager – $132,300 with an average bonus of $10,300 plus super
    • Head of Contact Centres – $178,300 with an average bonus of $21,000 plus super
  • Bonuses – The average bonuses are listed above with the Top Performer Average Bonus varying between $3,547 (for customer service roles) through to $19,925 for Outbound Sales roles.

What’s missing in this years report

Whilst there is over twice as much content in this years 2020/21 Australian Contact Centre Industry Best Practice Report, it’s not always possible to include every metric.

We’ve included some of the interesting data from last year’s report below that does not have a 2020 update (but look out for it in next year’s report!).

  • Rosters – just under half of all contact centres are open weekends and nearly 90% of centres require staff to be available for both weekday and weekend work
  • Recruitment – 71% of recruitment is managed internally with 29% using recruitment agencies
  • Speed to competency – It’s a wide range but the most common is 39.19% of contact centres expect agents to be at full competency after 3 months
  • Agent performance – The most common review frequency for agents is monthly (40.79%) with the top KPIs Quality, CSAT, conversions.
  • Average Talk Time – for an 8 shift the average is 4 hours and 42 minutes
  • Average number of inbound calls – 42 calls per shift
  • Average number of outbound calls – 53 calls per shift
  • First Call Resolution – Over 23% of contact centres do not measure FCR with the majority of centres expecting between 70 – 90% or more FCR for inbound calls
  • Induction training – most centres average between 2 to 4 weeks using a mix of classroom and ‘on the floor’ training
  • Formal training – 28% of contact centres put staff through formal training before promoting them to a leadership position
  • Abandonment rate – 60% of contact centres average between 1 to 5%
  • Wait time – 43% of contact centres have a wait time of 0-1 minute

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