Outsourcing - Technical Support

Outsourcing - Technical Support

There has been a negative stigma associated with outsourcing with some businesses and groups.  Their perception – whether founded or not – is often one where poorly trained staff answer calls with the intention to get off the phone with the customer as quickly as possible without regard to whether the incident is resolved.  While this might have been the case in some outsource operations, there are many other success stories that indicate great benefits – particularly for technical support roles.

Here are some pros and cons regarding outsourcing for technical support operations:

  • Knowledge transfer takes time.  Internal technical support persons have cultivated their specific skills around your operations, and therefore can resolve issues quickly in most cases.
  • Internal support resources are taxed.  With the advantage of niche knowledge and skills comes a distinct disadvantage.  Internal technical support staff can be overwhelmed with day to day mundane support roles when their skills could be used elsewhere.
  • Costs for outsourcing can be less expensive.  With highly skilled staff come higher salary requirements.  The investment in your internal resources should be leveraged to take full advantage of the skills attained with these higher salaries.
  • Outsourcing can provide consistent service.  Depending on how you structure your outsourcing agreement, your provider could have options for 24/7 staffing, online chat, email responses, and more.  Many outsourcing companies offer a variety of service programs that can be adjusted to suit your business needs.  The agreement should outline the expected level of service to insure consistency for your users.
  • Metrics and other analysis reports can give valuable insight.  Many outsourcing companies will provide periodic reports that can include a great deal of valuable information.  While it is helpful to know how many calls are resolved, you may also want to know what types of technical support calls occurred and if there is a trend in a particular department or with a particular server, database or software application.  Your outsource provider can also customize these reports depending on your requirements.
  • Language barriers could be a factor.  If your customers or end-users are having difficulty understanding or communicating with an outsourced technical support staff, you have lost any advantage that you may have gained previously.  When evaluating your outsourcing partner, consider doing some tests with their support staff to determine if there are any language related concerns.
  • Response to technical support requests could be faster.  Many support centers utilize support software that can trigger solutions using keyword searches.  If a problem was documented and resolved previously, any future calls can be addressed promptly without the need to escalate to other staff or to your internal resources for clarification or resolution.

Ultimately it is the business’ decision on whether to outsource the technical support operations or not.  Given the expense of internal staff and the need to leverage those resources to their fullest, many businesses may choose outsourcing as the better option.

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David Peterson

David G. Peterson is a business consultant and author of Handling the Remedy. He has extensive international experience managing projects and operations for large financial institutions. He has worked in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia skillfully managing business and technical requirements, core systems enhancement and support, merger and acquisition integration's, business process reengineering, off-shoring and outsourcing.