Technical support and outsourcing

Outsourcing support services for IT companies can be a highly challenging task. Technical support agents require not only regular soft skills, but a number of hard skills for successfully fulfil the duty. While we all can already guess the set of soft skills - patience, adaptability, desire to help, relationship development, empathy, correct communication tone, we will get lost in all the hard skills an agent might need.
Among the hard skills that may be needed from a customer support representative are:

  • Web design
  • Programming
  • Mathematics
  • Analysis
  • Software testing
  • Technical writing
customer service representative
What's even worse - for each individual company the set of hard skills is unique. It will vary from project to project, meaning that there are no ready agents on the market at all. When you form up your customer support department, you'll have to teach each new representative from scratch. And it's a very time-consuming task. The onboarding for agents can take 3 to 6 months, and during all that time you will monitor agent's performance, provide advice and share expertise.
customer service team
Another important issue is that there will always be difficult cases that require your direct attention. You won't be able to forget about answering customer requests, since you'll be still answering some of them (the most complicated ones). If course this task can be very interesting and challenging for you as a tech specialist, but it will still take your precious work time. On the other hand, such cases can help you find bugs and flaws in your product, which is nice.
      outsource customer service advantages
      The next problem arises when you suddenly understand that one of your support reps is on a vacation, another one is taking a sick leave, and you're suddenly drown in the customer emails. Technical support department is not very flexible and scalable due to a long onboarding. So during hard times your clients will have to wait a while till they get a response. This is a known weakness of many small and medium sized IT companies - they simply cannot afford to hire an excessive number of reps.
      is outsourcing a good idea
      If you decide to find a remote partner for your technical support, you'll have to build strong two-way communication with him. Together you'll form and polish the best practices of IT support, minimize reply time, optimize workload and train new customer service reps to maintain good customer service. Mutual cooperation is key to success, so think about the best ways to communicate with your partner. It could be an online solution like Slack or a project management tool like Trello. Services like Google Hangouts can help you with video calls.
          All in all, technical support is a tricky department to put on outsource. But if you manage to do it carefully and correctly, you'll see increased satisfaction of your customers, and will free up your time for business development tasks.