As a small business owner in the 21st century, outsourcing technical support is one of the smartest decisions you can make for your company. If you’ve never considered it, now’s the time to begin thinking about this option.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Tech Support
Change is the only constant in business. And when you look at the forces that change swiftly and most dramatically, technology is at the top of the list. Technology iterates and innovates at an astounding pace and the average business has trouble keeping up. But it doesn’t have to be something you struggle with. By outsourcing your tech support, you can enjoy benefits like these:
- Lower costs. Hiring, training, and maintaining a full-stocked in-house IT department is expensive. As entrepreneur Patrick Hogan points out, “The most basic tech support specialists in the United States earn an average of $46,420 annually. Systems Analysts, on the other hand, earn upwards of $80,000 every year, with Data Administrators and Network Administrators earning nearly the same.” By outsourcing, you get access to only the folks you need (and at a far more affordable rate).
- Better service. You have your own specialty and focus. Your company isn’t in the business of IT and tech support. By outsourcing these responsibilities to a business that specializes in these areas, you can provide better service to your clients. It’s as simple as that.
- Less friction. When you try to manage technical support internally, you’re bound to run into issues that disrupt the flow of service and create unnecessary friction. When outsourced, everything runs much smoother.
- Greater security. Cybersecurity is a big deal in today’s digital landscape, and a technical support partner will ensure you’re better prepared for the demands that crop up in this area.
Though some large corporations have the in-house resources to manage their own tech support, most businesses find it more cost-effective and logical to outsource. In all likelihood, you will as well.
5 Tips and Tricks for Successful Outsourcing
Knowing that you need to outsource and successfully doing so are two totally different things. As you move in this direction, here are some tips and tricks you’ll find helpful in finding, managing, and growing with an outsourced partner.
1. Identify Your Need
The very first step is to identify your needs and set your expectations. There’s significant variability in the tech support field, and you have to be strategic with which potential partners you pursue. Here are some different elements to consider:
- Is seasonal demand a major factor in your business? In other words, will you need a ton of help during part of the year and very little throughout the remainder?
- How much help do you need? Will one or two people suffice, or are you in search of an entire team of people?
- Are your tech support needs pretty basic, or will you need to invest a considerable amount of energy into upfront training and education?
- Does location matter? What languages do tech support partners need to speak?
As you can see, there’s a lot of variabilities. It’s up to you to figure out your needs so that you can proceed with a clearer picture.
2. Create a Shortlist
Armed with a clear understanding of what you want out of a tech support partner, you can begin your search. Because location is rarely a big issue in this industry, you’ll find that you have hundreds of options spread out all over the world. From the U.S. to the Philippines and everywhere in between, you’ll encounter what seem like promising options. Vet them against your needs and formulate a short list of the most attractive options.
3. Find the Right Fit
As with any business decision, you need to make sure you find the appropriate fit. A tech support partner may offer you a convenient price within your budget, but does their service align with your needs?
As a rule of thumb, look for tech support companies that have been around for a while and have experience.
“Having a wide client base exposes tech support companies to a plethora of issues. That means when a weird or difficult tech support problem pops up at your business, chances are the techs have seen that issue or something similar and can fix it quickly,” Invasion explains. “If the tech support companies you are talking to are new or have a small client base, it could mean they haven’t handled as many serious problems as a company with broader experience has.”
4. Be Specific in Your Contract
Nothing is more dangerous than having a cloudy agreement with a technical support partner. It’ll eventually come back to bite you.
“It’s important to keep the written record of the engagement as clear, complete and accurate as possible,” Bloomberg writes. “When there are projects or situations that the contract does not explicitly address, the customer should clarify them early on and in writing.”
It’s far easier to set terms on the front end of a working relationship than it is to go back and revise something later on.
5. Stay in the Loop
Just because you’re outsourcing your technical support, doesn’t mean you can be totally hands-off. This is a critically important component of your overall business, and you can’t afford to be out of the loop.
When it comes to customer issues, in particular, you have to know where your biggest pain points are. Otherwise, you’ll fail to deliver the sort of value that everyone needs.
Directly oversee technical support and ask for regular reports. It’s better to have more information than not enough.
Find Your Sweet Spot
Every business has its own unique needs, interests, wants, strengths, and weaknesses. As you consider outsourcing, you’ll need to evaluate different tech support partners and what each brings to the table. Patience and meticulous due diligence will serve you well.
Wait for the right fit and make sure you’re doing what’s best for your business.