The need for
companies to address functions which are not in its area of core
competency is growing, as margins are eroded with lower sales.
Outsourcing these functions can be a less costly alternative and
can be done effectively with the right partner.
At a recent WBZ
breakfast for entrepreneurs, we heard that the major failure for
new startups is due to the inability to react to changes in
demand. New startups react too slowly to a dramatic increase or
decrease in demand for their product or service. Some companies
are mitigating this problem by partnering with outsourced service
firms to provide needed skills and capabilities that are not a
core competency of the business. One area companies are
outsourcing is their customer helpdesk.
activity, a necessary component of any business, can be a drain on
resources. It is important to stay on top of what the customer is
thinking about your product. However this area is often neglected
as the demands of other parts of the business take over. The
operation may not be adequately staffed, and calls may have to be
addressed by members of the staff who are working on other
activities. These interruptions can be costly to productivity, and
may not require a high-level skill-set to address.
developers at a firm, for example, experience interruptions caused
not by the software sold, but by the customer's operating system,
existing network setup, or hardware. Problems that come into the
software company may be unrelated to the product and should be
referred to a competent pc support operation, but having none, the
small software development firm answers the questions in order to
get the customer up and running.
helpdesk outsourcer can be a partner who is set up to grow and
shrink with you. As your business is not the sole source of income
for this outsourcing business, they are able to plan changes in
size according to their customer needs and absorb some of the
volatility businesses experience in periods of growth and
helpdesk outsourcing firm can provide the needed expertise to
answer the basic calls where the solution is known, respond to
calls that are unrelated to the product, and summarize all
customer contact activity for the company.
One way to
partner with an outsourcer is to filter calls at the company and
pass on those that the outsourcer can respond to. Automated call
distribution mechanisms can be used to facilitate this call
distribution. The outsourcer will summarize activity and report
statistics on responsiveness. One issue with this method is that
no one is looking at the entire base of calls, to analyze the type
and root-cause resolution of these calls.
is to have the Helpdesk Outsourcer answer all incoming contacts
from customers; responding to those unrelated to the product and
commonly known problems, and escalating those calls requiring a
skill-set within the company's area of core competency.
As the Helpdesk
Outsourcer gains knowledge of common problems they can create and
post updated FAQs for the company. Often they will be able to
rewrite manuals or on-line help files to provide solutions to
common problems where the customer can retrieve them easily. Some
Helpdesk providers can develop and deliver training on the product
as well to mitigate incorrect use of the product, or help the
customer get better use of the product.
Outsourcer accumulates most of the customer interaction as first
line support and is in touch with the customer’s needs. Analysis
can lead to problem solving and elimination of redundant calls.
This leads inevitably to reduced call activity as customers gain
more information over the web and contact the helpdesk less and
less. Some Help Desk Service Providers regard this as lost
revenue. A good Helpdesk Outsourcer will find other ways to expand
the business. And, a happy customer will recommend a service that
eliminates waste, runs efficiently and costs less in the long run.
helpdesk functions to a third party provides many advantages that
an existing business may not be able to effectively address. If
they approach the right third party and stay on top of the
outsourced activity, they will find costs lower and customers more
satisfied. Customers will return for better product and great
Barbara Dove is
the President of Sickle Brook Services, Inc., a Helpdesk outsource
provider for small businesses.