Outsourcing the Helpdesk
Providing top-notch customer support is a requirement for maintaining and growing a successful business. But what happens during those times your helpdesk is not staffed adequately to handle a high volume of calls? Customers paying for support can easily become frustrated if they have to wait in line before connecting to a support agent. Helpdesks and call centers know that they have to deliver quick and accurate resolutions to retain customers. Simply analyze the costs associated with hiring additional support agents - salary, workstation, software licenses, and you will see why so many companies are moving toward outsourcing their support activities to third party agencies.
Any company that wants to cost-effectively manage their helpdesk needs to be able to evaluate when it makes the most business sense to consider external support. Determine your company's needs: Do you need support for after business hours? Does your helpdesk experience peak times when it is difficult to handle the number of incoming calls? Do you need to outsource a portion of your helpdesk? Many outsource agencies can help measure helpdesks performance levels, generate statistical reports and analyze costs allowing you to make an informed decision. Or go online and investigate call center software products that can help analyze call distribution to determine when outsourcing may be more productive and cost-effective than hiring additional agents.
General Guidelines for when to consider an outsource agency:
- If your company experiences sharp peaks in call volumes throughout the day or is not properly staffed to handle current call volumes.
- If support activities require expertise or knowledge in an area that is not frequently used.
- If your company experiences periods of high activity, such as during a new product roll-out or a product maintenance release.
- If your company supports a large number of software packages.
- If you have difficulty supporting remote offices.
- If you are experiencing an internal transition, such as upgrading your network, or computer systems hardware or software.
A major benefit of outsourcing the helpdesk is that many support agencies have the latest technology and are better equipped to handle fluctuating call volumes. These technology improvements may be very costly for a company, but an outsource agency that is in the business of providing support can spread out their costs among several clients over a period of time. Another necessary but costly task in today's global economy is providing helpdesk access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Consider contracting an outsource agency to provide support only during off-business hours.
Because you are contracting the outsource agency, you have flexibility in establishing the service levels as well as the types of support covered. What are the modes of support offered by the outsource agency? Does the agency have a standard 800 number, email, fax, and web interface? Is it important for your endusers to have access to a knowledge base?
Clients will want to define a service level agreement to ensure quality of service to their customers. Select an outsource agency that will generate weekly or monthly performance and activity reports as part of their service level agreement. These reports can help you measure how the agency is performing in terms of average speed to answer, average time spent and rate of abandonment.
Another important factor is the average level of experience of the support staff. Does the staff have a range of expertise with various levels of support specialists? Would they be able to escalate calls efficiently to appropriate technical specialists? When it comes time to purchase external support, most outsource agencies offer their services by either a fixed monthly rate or a cost per call basis. You don't need to be roped into a lengthy agreement, many support agencies offer the option of either a monthly or annual commitment and you can be set-up and on-line in less than 30 days.
The benefits of outsourcing the helpdesk can help your business reduce operating costs, improve helpdesk productivity and increase customer service levels. If you would like additional information, contact one of the helpdesk support agencies listed below:
Help Desk Solutions, Inc.
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