When to Consider Outsourcing Service Support

The importance of building a World Class Post Sale Support operation is critical to the success of your business. Key factors to achieve success include:

• Focus on the Customer
• Commitment to Service Excellence
• Running your Service operation as a Profit Centre vs. Cost Centre
• Utilization of Technology to improve productivity
• Investment in your people

What happens when the financial commitment is limited in your organization? What if your Business strategy is inconsistent with a Best-in-Class (BIC) support model? Does that mean Customer Support and Satisfaction will suffer?

There are few organizations with the resources to invest unencumbered in all areas of their operations. Compromises must be made to achieve balance. Corporate strategy as well business conditions will drive allocation for investment. Recently, considerable focus has been placed on investment in R&D and Sales & Marketing. This is logical as these areas drive top line growth.

The investment to build a World Class Service Support operation can be costly as well as time consuming. Competing for the needed resources can be challenging when economic conditions are less certain. Traditionally, this leads to decisions that force service operations to be treated as a cost centre. Such an approach can lead to less than optimal customer satisfaction metrics thus, driving down customer retention and loyalty. It’s important to adjust internal strategies to optimize investment and resources without losing sight of the BIC support model.

Often, business strategy does not adequately address Post Sale Service Support. Product Development, Marketing and Financial and Operational improvement is more commonly emphasized in strategic plans, leaving service support buried in operations. A balanced scorecard approach to drive strategy has been a popular tool to emphasize all facets of an organization’s strategy. Customer Support options should be considered equal when developing strategy.

Will Customer Satisfaction suffer without proper investment and strategic focus? History shows Yes. Businesses need a balance of investment, strategy and focus to ensure customer loyalty and retention. There are options available that can help when investment and/or strategic intent are not adequate with a BIC support model.

One option to consider is an outsourcing approach to service delivery. Traditionally, organizations have considered outsourcing as a last resort option. There is a perception of risk with loss of quality, brand and the customer control. These are valid points and need to be taken under serious consideration. However, many organizations don’t have the choice nor the financial wherewithal and time required to build a BIC model. When managed properly, outsourcing can be an alternative to achieve success.

There are outsourcing options for most functions of a Service Operation. Typical outsourced functions include Customer Support, Technical Assistance, Service Sales, Field and Depot support and Logistics. Outsourcing can be leveraged to augment capacity or provide total support in markets where resources are better focused on top line growth. The key to a successful outsource program relies on that selected provider to drive a BIC model delivery and their ability to implement support around your expectations.

Advantages to Outsourcing:

Provides ability to add service capacity without the addition of internal headcount. Many companies maintain tight control of headcount during difficult times. Outsourcing service functions allows headcount allocation to be focused in more critical areas such as Sales, Marketing or R & D.
Expense reduction. Labour and overhead are typically reduced when utilizing outsourcing partners due in part to their focus on Service Delivery and ability to capture synergies.
The advantage of tapping into the technical expertise of outsourcing providers based on the varied client and equipment base they support. This can be leveraged to quickly bring services online.
Outsourcing providers who focus solely on BIC service delivery afford their clients the ability to draw on their expertise to improve service operations.

Lastly, it’s important to consider how this will impact your people. Outsourcing need not be contradictory. Depending on the extent of your outsourcing requirement, many employees will remain with the business. When leveraged for added capacity, the additional support will improve workload requirements. Employees can be redeployed to other productive tasks such as Service Sales, Customer Interface, Operations or, trained for career development opportunities in other disciplines. When properly managed, outsourcing can be a positive for the employees involved. Consider the options and keep employee satisfaction in mind when navigating the process.

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Importance of After-Hours Call Center in your business

You may have set a regular schedule for your business but your customers have not. Your business does not end just because you have closed for the day or it’s a holiday. Depending on the business, there can be innumerable situations when customers might need help at odd hours. Consider an instance where a customer needs to clarify something about your product or is operation. Maybe they operate at night or prefer to handle certain function during off hours. Today, with the advent of the internet and advancements in technology, there is no reason your customer should not be able access support. A proactive business would have to ensure that all calls are attended to promptly.

Here are some important benefits of having after-hours call center service

Happy Customers, Happy Business

Issues and inquiries regarding a product or service usually come at an unexpected time and customers demand answers now not later. Diverting your customer’ calls to a voicemail can be frustrating for some. When their needs are not met at the moment, they need it, it may reflect poorly on your company’s dedication to customer service, tarnishing your brand. Having 24/7 or After-Hours call center support shows your customers that you have their back any time day or night. Statistics show, a satisfied customer, will result in repeat sales.

Building Customer Loyalty

Why did you buy the mobile phone brand you have today? When choosing a product for device, whether it be a mobile phone, a medical, scientific, robotic device or just a simple blender for your home, quality, durability and customer support play a major role in the decision-making process. No product is perfect and issues will arise. Happy customers are more likely to be loyal customers when support services are available 24/7. After-Hours call center services pave the way to brand loyalty.

Increase Sales

Loyal customers can be an advocate of your business too. As an advocate they tend to refer it to their relative, friends or colleagues. In that way, you will surely have a sale. Aside from that, when you receive a call from a customer in need, you have captured their attention. Use this as an opportunity to recommend other products and services they might need. Imagine what having agents who proactively help your customers and encourage them to try other products can do for your business.

Establish a strong brand reputation

When you have won your customer’s trust, they will not hesitate to recommend you to their circle of contacts. Your business will have a positive reputation of being compassionate towards customers, professional and reliable. Your business’ growth is sure to follow once you have proven to your customers that you are always there for them 24/7/365.

Creating a unique stand point

If you want to distinguish your business from the rest of your competitors, stand out by offering your customers dependable 24/7 customer service.

Your business has a greater chance of success with an After-Hours Call Center Service than without.

If you find yourself in a dilemma when it comes to after-hours calls, we got you!
COVUE provides low cost fix pricing solutions for After-hours and holiday call center support. Our services easily integrate into your current system.

How to Select an Outsourced Service Provider

When considering outsourcing options for various functions of your Service Operation, it’s critical to select a provider that can not only meet your technical requirements, but one that best fits your corporate culture. This will be essential when building or maintaining a Best-in-Class (BIC) post sale support operation.

The first step in selection of your outsourcing partner will be to clearly identify the strategic intent of the outsourcing decision:

• Is this a cost reduction decision only?
• Is the decision based on capacity/headcount constraints?
• Is this a short or long range decision?
• Is the intent to maintain current operations or improve them?
• Is the intent to drive toward a BIC Service Support Operation?

In most cases, the strategic intent will comprise of one or more of the questions. Once the answers have been carefully considered, the process of selecting your provider can begin.

• Look for a provider with a total focus on Service Delivery and free of any potential conflict of interest. Many providers are involved in vertical businesses that could distract from the mission at hand – BIC Service Delivery. The best provider will be one where service support is their only business.

• Avoid use of companies that provide Third Party Service (alternative to OEM support) or asset management services to end-customers. Such practices pose a conflict of interest and can lead to loss of end customer relationship and/or intellectual property (IP).

• Ensure your provider remains “Swiss Neutral” across all technical platforms and business segments. Confidentiality is a key to a successful service support partnership. Non-Disclosure Agreements help protect confidentiality but cannot completely guarantee IP security. Investigate and validate that systemic processes are place to ensure IP cannot be compromised and that the provider is committed to IP protection. When possible, select a provider that has implemented a robust security program within their QMS.

• Thoroughly investigate references. The best way to identify an outsource provider is by talking with current and past customers. Do they “practice what they preach”?

• Choose a provider with an experienced management team. Do they have experience implementing and directing BIC service operations locally, nationally and/or globally? Ensure their philosophy is synergistic to your model?

• Is the provider flexible? Can services be customized to your business? Many providers will attempt to force fit your business into their infrastructure. Flexibility will be critical to a successful implementation. Other considerations should include: ability transfer employees, type of information systems utilized and ability to bring services online expeditiously.

The choice of an outsourcing provider could be the most important decision you make on the journey to BIC Post Sale Support and superior customer satisfaction. The provider will have direct contact with your customers. Ensure stakeholders are involved in the decision making process. View the provider as an extension of your business. A trusting, secure and flexible relationship will be critical to success.

Got questions? We’re happy to help you. Contact us now!