As a company that creates and sells technical support for a living, companies ask us all the time if they should outsource their support platform. Sometimes our customers ask us why their use of Freshdesk is key to their technical support. Friends and entrepreneurs ask us, because subcontracted technical support is still a new and rising service income.
I think it is important for every business, from a growing business to large companies, to know exactly why it is in their best interests to outsource their support. And, more importantly, what kind of problems do you expect to solve with it. Therefore, here is a direct comparison between an outsourced platform and one worked from within:
First Round – Total Cost of Ownership
When outsourcing, it basically means that you pay someone to hire support representatives, train them, look for resources and do everything that has to do with it. Sure, you’re paying to broadcast calls internationally but, in the end, with VOIP and less restrictive telecom regulations, outsourcing is usually cheaper than doing it yourself.
When it comes to the total cost of your support process, outsourcing involves getting the best results with less effort. If the cost of personnel is the biggest expense in technical support, outsourcing your equipment to a low-cost center on the other side of the world can save you a lot of money by the end of the year.
Verdict: If you have a people-centered support team, outsourcing to a low-cost center may be a good idea.
Second round – level climbing (or descending)
There is a time in the life of each support agent in which he realizes that he gets more tickets than his team can handle. Or, on the contrary, there are many agents in lines that do not sound enough to justify so much attention. With these different scenarios, the solution is to expand or reduce your support team according to your needs. It usually means you have to find the right people to add to your help desk team, and fast.
Now, if you outsource your technical support, you have the option to choose a salesperson to expand, or to take the blow for you. It is he who has to expand or separate the group. They have the problem, not you. You are out of it and you save time and money. If you do not outsource … well, you understand.
Of course, there are ways to expand technical support from within, without necessarily expanding the equipment; So blindly outsourcing or leaving everything to the seller may not be the best idea.
Verdict: If adding people to your technical support process is the only way to expand it, outsourcing can be a relief.
Third Round – Quality Control
There is a reason why companies still prefer to build their own support team, and that’s a good reason. By outsourcing, you have no control over the quality of care.
When you outsource technical support, you’re basically delivering the responsibility to make sure your customers are receiving the correct and complete information to answer your questions. You have no control over whether agents take that extra step to ensure your customers are satisfied. All the doubts of your customers will be answered, but exactly and complete? You have no idea.
Outsourcing takes away that power. You can only direct and hope for the best.
Verdict: If you want to build a brand with your technical support, keep it inside.
Fourth Round – Being “in touch”
When it comes to being in touch with customers, we must admit that outsourcing really does not put you in a position to receive direct feedback from them. You have all the numbers and figures that prove that Third Parties do everything possible to make your customers happy, but you do not have access to the basic facts. While if you manage it from your company, you would be interacting with customers directly and you could have a good idea of what they like and what not.
Verdict: If you want to get technical support feedback for the production and business processes, the way is to handle it yourself.
Fifth Round – The Rules
This part is a bit more subjective. Can all your technical support problems be solved with a manual?
The problem with outsourcing is that call center agents are not your employees. They have no direct experience in product development, and we are probably experts in your field of work. That means they will receive intensive training before they can help their clients. This training is usually accomplished by compiling an extensive problem solving manual detailing everything that can go wrong, how it can be solved, and delivered to the Third.
As long as most of the doubts and support requests are within the limits of this manual, the Third party must have the same performance (or better) than one of your own employees. But if they need more technical expertise, tacit knowledge, and quick contact with the production team, outsourcing is a sure path to disaster.
Verdict: If your technical support can be compiled sufficiently in a book, outsourcing can help you. Otherwise, it is better to keep it in the company.
Sixth Round – Beyond Tickets
The era in which technical support consisted of being merely reactive is over. It’s time for social networks, where customers prefer to share their complaints with the world, on Facebook or Twitter, than talking to you directly.
And when clients address you (or about you on social networks), they expect to be listened to and considered. It is not important that they not seek you directly. So for companies looking to move to a new reality, outsourcing may not be the key to reaching it. Of course answering questions is still part of the equation, but it is no longer the only part.
Verdict: If you want to proactively support your customers, letting someone else do it no longer works.
What does this all mean?
In many cases, outsourcing definitely seems the best way to work. For example, a large company that sells common electronic devices would have many similar requests for technical support. Possibly the best way to improve for this type of company is to add more resources, and outsourcing makes sense.
For a similar company that sells rare electronic components, or a very specific audience, it is likely that support requests will be more varied and require more mastery, experience and wisdom to respond satisfactorily. In these it makes sense that the company invests in building its equipment from within, and looks for other ways to improve its platform in the long run.