Author: Nick Sellers, Director, Global Marketing
Improving the customer experience is rated as a top priority by customer service executives. What sounds simple in theory can become challenging in practice and this limits the creation and deployment of customer experience initiatives. As customers are increasingly taking more control over the relationships they have or choose to continue with brands, companies must develop better practices for serving them. In fact, recent research from IBM found that 66 percent of executives consider customer relations as a key source of sustained economic value.
One of the areas that can make or break customer experience is technical support. Although many companies provide contact center services for technical support in-house, if it’s not a core focus of the business, they are achieving less than stellar results. Even so, many companies are slow to put muscle behind improving the customer experience—despite the fact that they recognize its potential value.
In a recent Forrester blog post, Megan Burns, one of the firm’s customer experience analysts, shared a conversation she had with a client who was frustrated that the executives at her company talk about customer experience often, but have done nothing to improve it. When the client asked Megan why, she used this analogy:
Evaluating the Choice to Outsource Technical Support
There are many benefits from choosing to outsource a service that is not based on your company’s core expertise. The first would be that the expertise needed to provide technical support is core expertise for the vendor. The right vendor will have the experience, industry knowledge, processes, and methodology to take your technical support services to higher levels from day one. The vendor is also accountable and has a laser focus on satisfying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that translate into added value and sustainable advantages for your business.
During your evaluation, it’s important to consider both the internal and external benefits that your company should derive from the collaborative relationship established with your outsourced service provider.
Internal Benefits should include:
- Easier management. Operating a technical support center can monopolize executive and middle management resources from your company that have expertise which could be applied to greater value elsewhere. An outsourced vendor will remove their day-to-day involvement without relinquishing control and oversight. By establishing a collaborative relationship you’re able to actually enhance those qualities while adding expertise beyond what exists internally.
- Performance improvements. The right vendor selection will include methodology, process and customer interaction design practices that will bring consistency and operational efficiency to your technical support operation. The vendor understands the impacts specific KPIs have on customer experience, as well as how to extract insights from those metrics for continuous performance improvement.
- Lower costs. Along with the vendor’s ability to improve performance, they possess the proven experience to apply those processes in ways which reduce costs without detrimentally impacting the customer experience. With incentives created strategically to reward them for specific value achievements, they are even more likely to balance the efficiency and effectiveness trade off.
- Predictable quality. During your evaluation, it’s important to assess how the service provider collects and uses data, their application of quality assurance monitoring, and the depth of ongoing training and education that will be provided for the level of technical support required across various lines of business. With the appropriate plan and practices in place, quality technical service delivery becomes a predictable component whether volume stays steady or spikes at unforeseen times.
External benefits should include:
- Customer advocacy. With a progressive technical support operation in place, you should be able to identify increased customer advocacy from voice of customer programs, social commentary, reviews, and your company’s Net Promoter score.
- Customer loyalty. Satisfaction is an attitude, whereas loyalty is demonstrated by behavior. Your customers may be paying lip service when they rate their satisfaction as high on a survey, but this score should translate to behavior exemplified by repeat purchasing behavior and extended lifetime value.
- Company growth. The sustainable value driven by excellence in technical support should also play a pivotal role in attracting new customers. In fact, it should be the natural outcome generated by the two external benefits discussed above.
There are many reasons to outsource your technical support services to a qualified vendor, but to gain the results important to your business, the move must be a strategic decision that will provide added value—both internally and externally—that your in-house operation is not currently providing. Choosing to change the status quo will not provide the value it should if it is only based on displacing cost. Truly changing the status quo for technical service should provide value based on a sustainable customer experience delivery model.