PolitIQs: Nearly 3 Weeks Until Election Day: Learn more about Phone Bank Pricing & Why the bids vary so widely

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Dear Friend,

Campaigns and consultants who bid out their paid phone banks often ask “how could these prices vary so much?” In answering this question, it is helpful to review the three fundamental cost components of a phone bank: 1. the wage rate for the phone reps, 2. the overhead and value added by the call center and 3. the mark up for the phone consultant based on the value added. 

  1.  Wage rates.  For entry level and second tier phone reps handling persuasion or advocacy calls, the wage rates don’t vary much across the country.

  2.  Call center value added.  Nearly all the call centers making persuasion, ID and GOTV calls this cycle rely on commercial business most of the year—politics is secondary. Their hourly rates—which phone consultants mark up—vary based on the complexity of their traditional business. Call centers whose operators handle customer billing complaints or staff the “Butterball Turkey Hotline” at Thanksgiving offer a higher skillset and charge more than the churn and burn call centers who cold call, pushing aluminum siding or a switch in phone carriers.        

  3.  Phone consultant value added.  There are Walmart like phone firms that give you the very basics—no suggestions on the script, no pre-call list hygiene, no advice about calling universe targets, no call monitoring for the client and no flexibility in scheduling. Their pricing reflects this minimal service component. On the other end of the continuum are the Nordstrom phone firms. Their pricing is based on the assumption that the client needs and wants the best practices in scripting, targeting, and timing of the calls.  

Each campaign is different—sometimes the best fit is Walmart, other times Nordstroms, or even a Sears like firm, that is somewhere in the middle, will do. Regardless, a campaign or consultant would be wise to compare pricing and seek clarity from the low cost vendors with the following check list:

  •   Are your call centers in the USA? Some very good Canadian call centers will work cheaper, but create political nightmares for the campaigns that decide to go that route.
  •   How do you define a billable call? At what point in the call do I get charged?
  •   Have you included cell phones in your pricing?  The law requires that cell phones must be dialed one-to-one, making costs higher.  And this year with RAE voters as the key to victory, any phone bank that ignores cell phones is committing malpractice.
  •   Can you clean up my lists before the call? RAE voters move a lot and their phone numbers change more than with older voters.

  •   Can you help me with my targeting? Do you know what the various scores and models mean among the different list vendors?

  •   How many passes will you make through my list before giving up on a number?Will you call at different times, on different days to reach more people?
  •   Can I monitor the calls? Will you monitor the calls?
  •   How quickly can I get my reports the next day?
  •   Do you include phonetics in the scripts for the challenging names?

  •   Do you track each call by operator in case there is a complaint?

  •  Can I reach you after hours and on weekends if changes to the script or the universe are in order?

As you can see there are many important considerations when choosing the right phone firm for your needs. If you’d like more information on our commitment to Nordstrom service at Sears prices, please call (601.918.4563) or email us

And as always, we invite you to join our voter research conversation on Twitter @ChismStrat.

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Chism Strategies is America’s leading direct voter contact firm. We are innovators, grounded in the best social science research, with decades of experience in the field to mobilize voters and change public opinion.


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