Businesses today are continually looking for ways to streamline their operations to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Many see outsourcing as a good way to accomplish this task because it gives them cost-effective access to the skills they need.
However, before signing any help desk outsourcing contract, it’s crucial to find the right partner. In this article, we look at how you can do that to ensure that this operation is successful.
Understanding the Need for Help Desk Outsourcing
Thirty years ago, only big companies could afford to farm out their support functions. Thanks to advances in technology, this service is now cost-effective for even small enterprises and startups.
The value in taking this route is that it saves you the recruitment and maintenance costs associated with managing an in-house team. You don’t have to train personnel or plan for contingencies, as your partner handles that side of things.
The result is quick access to the skills you need, making it easier to scale up your operations.
Define Your Objectives and Requirements
Before you start your search, you must know what you want. Lay out your objectives, expectations, and requirements clearly. You need to know what services you need, how much support you require, and if there are industry-specific compliance standards to consider.
Having a well-defined scope of work will guide your search and help you identify a partner with the right expertise.
Evaluate Their Industry Experience
Where possible work with a team with extensive experience in your industry or a related field. They’ll bring a valuable understanding of industry nuances, regulations, and customer expectations. This will contribute to a more seamless integration and effective support services.
Assess Their Technical Proficiency
Does your product or service entail technical support? Even if it doesn’t, your customers might ask your outsourcers related questions. Therefore, you need to assess their technical proficiency.
Ensure that they have the expertise to handle your specific products or services. And, don’t forget to ask them about their familiarity with your technology stack and their ability to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues efficiently.
Evaluate Service Level Agreements
The next step is to discuss deliverables. You need to clearly define your expectations and ensure they’re realistic and then put them in writing. Your proposed partner will likely suggest SLAs of their own, so review these and see how well they align with your needs in terms of:
- Response times
- Resolution times, and
- Overall service expectations
If they’re not even close, it might be worthwhile continuing your search.
Examine Scalability and Flexibility
Your needs will change over time so your partner needs to be able to meet your changing needs. You must carefully evaluate the scalability and flexibility of potential partners. Then consider their ability to adapt to changes in support volume, business growth, and unforeseen challenges.
Ensure Multichannel Support
In today’s digital age, customers expect support through various channels, including email, chat, phone, and social media. Your partner must be able to provide a seamless experience across multiple platforms to satisfy your customers.
Verify Security Protocols
Breaches can occur at any time, making it important to vet any partner’s security protocols. Will they look after your sensitive information as well as or better than you do? If the answer is, “No”, keep looking.
You’ll need to ensure that they adhere to industry-standard security protocols at the very least. Discuss data encryption, access controls, and compliance with data protection regulations to safeguard sensitive customer information.
You can go a step further and hire a company that specializes in penetration testing to see if their systems are easy to hack.
Evaluate Their Communication Skills
Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful customer support. You’ll need to assess the team’s communication skills, including language proficiency, clarity in written and verbal communication, and the ability to convey technical information in an understandable manner.
Analyse Client Testimonials and Case Studies
While past performance is no guarantee of of future success, it’s a strong indicator. Ask if the company:
- Garnered any awards
- Has strong customer testimonials, or
- Can provide valuable case studies from companies that work with them
Review third-party review sites and look for evidence of successful implementations, customer satisfaction, and the partner’s ability to address unique challenges.
Visit Facilities and Meet the Team
Whenever possible, visit the facilities and meet the team that will be handling your help desk functions. A firsthand look at their infrastructure, technology capabilities, and the professionalism of their team provides valuable insights. Building a personal connection also fosters a collaborative and productive relationship.
Understand Cultural Fit
Many businesses overlook cultural alignment because they feel it’s unimportant. However, dealing with a company with a vastly different culture to your own sets you up for failure. When you’re on the same page with your partner, it’s easier to create a harmonious and productive collaboration.
Evaluate the Cost Structure
You should never use cost as the sole determining factor when choosing a partner. However, it’s a good indication of the team’s professionalism. A reputable company will be completely transparent about what you’ll pay. A shady operator will often lowball their estimate and then add in extra costs later.
Get an idea of pricing from a few companies to understand the basic costs. Be wary of companies that charge significantly less than these averages. They’ll have to make up the difference somewhere, and this could be in hidden costs or cutting corners with service.
If you’re on a tight budget, discuss your options with the team. You could, for example, opt for a shared team to reign in the expense.
Help desk outsourcing is a solid strategy that can transform your company. However, you only see these benefits when you partner with the right firm. Be sure to vet potential candidates carefully before entrusting them with this critical function.