Making the Decision to Outsource Technical Support
July 24, 2014
July 24, 2014
Nearly all technology products today will present challenges to some of your customers. The complexity of your products is likely growing, along with the increased pace of change that’s creating a cycle of continuous learning as customers adopt new products faster than ever before. Choosing to develop an internal technical support operation based on concerns that the technology is too complex for “outsiders” to handle is old-school thinking. Not to mention that if external resources cannot gain proficiency with your products and technology, then there’s a larger issue to be resolved.
Technology companies are challenged continuously to streamline operations and become more focused on developing products that their target audiences will adopt. This requires a determined strategy to evolve core expertise and find alternative ways to efficiently manage everything else—including technical support services. What’s important to consider is that a core focus on expertise applies to the vendors you choose to partner with.
A vendor with related industry experience will have processes and methodologies in place that are designed to help support agents build competence with different technology products quickly and they are likely to be better at efficiently serving your customers than your internal staff. Due to their level of experience and expertise in serving customers in a variety of situations, they will be able to introduce new methods that align with current customer needs and preferences at a lower risk to the business.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to outsource your technical support services, here are a few things you may want to consider when evaluating your options:
Applying Expertise to Irritation Calls
As one example, take the situation of irritation calls. These are calls where customers present themselves as upset, frustrated, or even angry. Many companies attempt to just speed time to resolution, ”greasing the squeaky wheel,” to make the irritation go away. But irritation calls can provide valuable input to elevating the experience for other customers by pinpointing the root cause which allows the problem to be resolved for all.
Internal resources at your company who are emerged in the technology may not equate the irritation as reason for concern because they have the view of an expert user. What internal users consider as “easy,” external users (i.e. customers) may see as overly complicated or not intuitive. An outsourced technical support provider is skilled in addressing issues from the customer perspective and can provide more empathy and patience in helping customers to resolve those issues.
But, more importantly, by reviewing irritation calls for root cause resolution, a service provider has the expertise to apply quality management to identify gaps in agent knowledge. Armed with this insight, training can be quickly put in place to eliminate instances of misinformation or the inability for satisfactory first contact resolution—both issues that can provoke further irritation. Resolving situational and process inefficiencies that generate irritation can prevent customers from migrating to a competitor, preserving revenues and maintaining loyalty.
Revenue from Inbound Support Requests
Selling, as part of an inbound support call, is not as easy as you many think. It takes a skillful and cognizant agent to be able to discern voice and language cues and act on them at just the right time to present an up sell or cross-sell offer without making a self-serving impression. Most enterprises have a number of divisions, product groups and combination of offerings that make this process difficult, at best. When technology companies focus on efficiency, keeping the cost of the call low by making shorter average handle times a priority can cause agents to overlook advantageous opportunities for expanding customer relationships.
The right technical support vendor will have a methodology in place to deliver the best for both sides. They can find efficiencies that may have never occurred to you, satisfy customers with effective issue resolution, as well as capitalize on building revenue. And they can achieve these multiple goals without jeopardizing performance metrics. But, even more importantly, the manner in which the calls are handled will improve the relationship between the brand and your customer.
Economy of Scale
Establishing a technical support operation is not easy or inexpensive. The infrastructure, staffing, training, and development of processes for efficient workflows alone can take months. And we all know that time is money. Compare that effort to the ease of onboarding an established outsourced technical support provider that has the infrastructure in place. They will also have the methodology to support faster implementation of staffing and training to speed time to value by coming online much faster than establishing an internal operation.
More importantly, technology companies launch products and updates rapidly, causing spikes in support volume. The same is true for many during the holidays. Sometimes these spikes can be as high as 500X the normal support services needed. Are you prepared to scale your internal operation to that degree just to handle occasional spikes? An outsourced technical support provider is equipped to scale up or down, as needed, with less effort, less cost, and less complexity than you would face.
Common Sense Rules When Choosing to Outsource
According to Linda Cohen, managing vice president and chief of research at Gartner Research, companies make a mistake by believing the hype without doing their research. Treating outsourcing as a short-term tool for solving a specific problem relegates outsourcing to an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.
Outsourcing is not just about using external resources to provide a competency or to reduce costs, it’s about choosing an external provider to help your company meet strategic business objectives that may include cutting costs, improving operations or making a dramatic change to the business model. Refusing to consider outsourcing technical support based on the belief that it’s too complex for an external provider to handle may be short sighted and could be costing your company in growth, competitive advantages and risk exposure. Just do your research and evaluate the vendor you choose to partner in line with the contribution they can bring to longer-term business objectives.