Published on: May 3, 2017 by George K.
In the previous article we had discussed the reasons to have a support team and its benefits. Here we are trying to have some insights about the essential features to be concerned while choosing an outsourced support team or company.
The most important thing you should consider about a support team is 24/7 availability. You should check with the company whether they are available around the clock for all days, including holidays so that your clients will be taken care even during the wee hours of the day.
No doubt, without a good infrastructure and redundant systems to ensure continuous power and network availability, no one can offer you 24/7 support. So infrastructure of the company is the most crucial thing to be considered whatever may be the company promises or reviews.
It is ridiculous for a client to know that his support is crippled due to restricted power supply on a country or location he has never been heard of. Hence ensure that the companies you consider are equipped with multiple power and connectivity options and are located in cities or in IT parks. As a rule of thumb, metros and cities are more immune to prolonged network or power issues as they will have better maintenance and contingency systems.
Check the websites and verify whether the company provides some glimpse about their infrastructure in their site. You can also check the population of companies providing the same service in the locality mentioned. The number of companies operating within an area is a clear indication of its network and infrastructure competency.
Gone are the days when the technical support guys acted as a magician and gave a reply like “It is fixed”. Today’s customers are more techno savvy and hence demands details about the cause of the issue and the resolutions applied. This necessitates the support guy to be proficient in communicating with the client and explain things in clear and simple English.
One of the major hurdles for support companies is the lack of employable graduates with fair confidence in carrying out a communication in English. In my opinion, this is one of the area where a client or company should never compromise. You can train and mold a technically weak person to better technical levels. But inherent flaws with communication are difficult to correct and makes the staff less confident. This makes them to depend heavily on canned replies, which makes the client less comfortable and makes them irritated.
Apart from grammatical errors, there can be issues related with usages as well. For instance the term Lakh is widely used in Indian sub continent. Those who lives only in India probably never knows that this is used only in India and the rest of the world uses “hundred thousands”. So he may tend to use it without an iota of doubt and leaves the client in a perplexed state as he is never informed about the outsourced nature of support by the client. Such a simple usage can create confidence loss to the client and can result in reputation damages.
Hence you should ensure that the candidate company gives proper emphasis for linguistic skills during staff selection and has customized training system to familiarize the team with the usages in the targeted client locations.
Top level management of the company has to be reachable for grievance readdress. After all you are the one who pays and you need to get the proper treatment and response irrespective of the volume of payment.
If the company provides a means to communicate directly with the management without channeling it through multiple hierarchical levels, then they are obviously a company which plans to stay. So before starting, ensure that you will have access and has the privilege to escalate issues to the decision making wing of your service area with minimal efforts.
The company you prefer should have multiple communication options. Its perfectly normal for some companies to encourage email communication than phone calls to avoid tracking problems for issues which spans across shifts. But you should have the option to communicate with the team or management directly over phone. Also there should be access options through mediums such as live chant, social media etc. for instant contact in case of an emergency.
Hence check whether the communication channels for emergency management are available and are active apart from your regular communication channels specified.
Everybody needs personal care and attention. Your requirements, preferences, concerns and issues might be different than another client. Hence always insist for a personal account manager so that you need not explain things for each and every issues.
An account manager should be able to work with you to address all issues pertaining to the service such as quality issues, sales, payment related issues. He should posses good understanding about your system, team and requirements. Needless to say, the AM should assist you with all interactions with the company, instead of suggesting or forcing you to run pillar to post to get something done.
The QA team is something majority of the companies still fails to bring in. Like in production environments, there should be a quality check for the services offered as well. In majority cases, the company responds to an issue only when the client arises it and may occasionally wave the charges as compensation. But such occasional paybacks are not sufficient to cover up the good will damages and doesn’t offer any sustainable approach towards curbing further incidents.
Practically you can’t spend entire time on the ticket evaluation and pick every issues to the managements attention. So check whether the company has an internal quality assurance team and they provide a report with objective analysis regularly. Your account manager would be right person to perform such tasks as he is the one who is more familiar with your custom settings.
Always insist that you should receive the copy of the internal QA report regularly. In fact it helps the company to get a fair idea about the performance of each employee and intervene effectively to avoid steep decline in quality and loss of the client.
Your data and its security is much more important than anything else. One of the unhealthy practices being followed by at least by some of the companies is sharing of logins through insecure communication channels like mails, chats etc. One major threat for keeping the credentials in mails is that the tech can access it outside the office and can do mischievous things if he wishes.
Insist for secure encrypted communication channels such as LastPass, Keepass or custom made vaults for login share. If you suspect staff sharing, always asks for implementing two factor authentication. This will ensure you that the assigned admin is not swapped and the logins are secure. Some companies permits work from home, even for access from office, it is always wise to implement a VPN so that only the authorized people will have access to your resources.Also seek the ways to instill a Non-Disclosure Agreement ( NDA) as well.
Ensure that the techs are receiving fair treatment by the employer. Since the hired staff is beyond your vicinity, you may not able to judge the level of their work life balance. Some times people may react in unprecedented ways such as client information disclosure, login changes and wiping of data from the server in response to the employee’s spat with the company.
Keep an eye about the working hours of the employee. If you feel that they are extending too much hours or under stress, take steps to reduce the work load either by increasing the support strength or switching to a more competent tech.
There can be disputes related with billing even with the most ethical company. In that cases you should check with the company’s refund policies and get clear idea about the area where you can claim a refund.
On the flip side, the price war makes some companies to reduce the prices drastically, which means you will be given with low profile techs. If you opt for such pricing patterns, your employee might be shared across clients. Such stressful environments can create non-empathetic monotonous responses to client concerns and leaves a bitter taste in their mouth.
Part 3 : How To Choose a Good Support Company
Category : General, Linux