Written by Rene Mallari
Help desk services refer to the technical support your business provides customers, users, and even employees. Technical support agents or specialists address problems or issues regarding information technology (IT) resources.
If your organization runs an in-house help desk and you have been considering IT support outsourcing, this article is for you.
Keep reading to discover tips for outsourcing help desk services effectively.
Ways To Outsource Help Desk Services
Outsourcing help desk services is not rocket science. Consider the pointers below when looking for a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner to outsource IT support operations to.
1. Get the Right Team
Choose an outsourcing partner with technical support agents experienced in IT processes. The team must include developers, engineers, and consultants. You need a comprehensive approach to resolve customer, user, and employee issues.
Soft skills are as necessary as technical qualifications in back-office outsourcing. IT support representatives must communicate effectively. They must be empathetic, persuasive, knowledgeable, organized, and creative. Problem-solving, active listening, and teamwork skills are essential for better service and coordination.
Regarding training certificates, a few team members must have at least one of the following accreditations from noted industry associations or IT companies:
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Information Security Manager
- Certified Information System Security Professional
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate
- Cisco Certified Network Associate – Routing and Switching
- Oracle Certified Professional, Java
2. Assemble a Versatile and Well-equipped Team
Check out these tips for forming outsourced help desk services tailored to high efficiency and productivity.
- Pick the best tools. To consistently deliver a great customer experience, a BPO partner must provide the team with relevant software, technology, and equipment.
- Promote collaboration and transparency. Aim to build and keep team morale high. Encourage regular teamwork, coordination, openness, optimism, and continuous workflow.
- Identify the right team size. Your team needs a leader, specialists, and a roaming consultant to help resolve difficult customer or user issues. About a third of this team should be top performers.
- Recruit proper individuals. Combining experienced specialists with new hires creates a dynamic and reliable team. Veterans are calm under pressure and creative, whereas greenhorns are curious, active, and trainable.
3. Execute Solid Training Initiatives
Find a BPO provider that trains its help desk service agents regularly. All agents must regularly upskill to handle new consumer issues, technologies, and outsourced IT trends.
Top performers, internal trainers, and team leaders must motivate and train the team. Agents learn better from coworkers than outsiders because they can ask work-related questions and get personalized answers.
When coaching agents:
- Role-play situations. Role-play to improve agent creativity and problem-solving. Present real-life complaints that require fast, correct, and ethical solutions to increase agent readiness.
- Apply a buddy system. Pair rookie agents with experienced ones to accelerate training. Use the knowledge- and work-sharing method to boost underperformers’ output.
- Avoid saying no. Trainers should instruct agents to refrain from saying no. They must respond to customer concerns positively and truthfully.
4. Consider the Team a Revenue-generator
Treat agents as revenue generators rather than hotline recipients to highlight the IT support team’s role. Agents’ main goal is to increase product or service loyalty and customer retention through excellent service. If customers are satisfied, selling them more products and services will be easier.
Delivering a great experience and building customer loyalty should be your top priority. Getting excellent reviews through quality service helps you project a first-rate image to potential customers.
So if you aim to get more repeat business, build and maintain a strong relationship with your current customers.
5. Add Self-service Options To Help Agents
Outsourced IT solutions must take advantage of self-service options. Automated software answers common customer questions, allowing live agents to handle more complex issues.
Self-service options are:
- For routine customer or user issues
- Used during peak season so that agents can route inquirers to online portals
- Designed to promote your products and services for more public awareness
Your self-service options must include different resources such as:
- Product or service tutorials
- Automated chat and messaging
- Community forum
- Online knowledge base
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) page
- Virtual assistants
To improve user experience, give inquirers quick access to self-service portals. These portals must provide clear answers, explanations, and instructions for FAQs and common issues. Avoid information overload by populating self-service options with precise data and resources.
6. Develop and Update a Knowledge Base for the Team
Self-service options are for customers, while a knowledge base is for agents. Technical support agents need this database to quickly and accurately resolve complex customer issues.
A useful and reliable knowledge base must always be updated and revised. It must also:
- Contain personalized articles. Content must be engaging and interesting. It is written to speak directly to the agents.
- Urge reader comments or suggestions. An auto-responder is ideal. An agent can receive customer feedback once their tickets are completed.
- Include feature-rich content. Include relevant photos, videos, charts, and eye-catching infographics in the knowledge base. This way, agents have an educational and enjoyable reading experience.
- Be of high quality. Verify the quality of all resources. Examine, revise, and edit each item for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. Articles and FAQs must be organized and reader-friendly.
7. Opt for a Highly Structured Team
Choose a BPO provider with a structured help desk service team for better group collaboration, customer service, and agent productivity.
When you outsource tech solutions, a three- to five-tiered tech support structure is the ideal setup. The levels include the following:
- Tier 0 allows consumers to address product or service problems via self-service support options.
- Tier 1 focuses on basic issues such as password resets and troubleshooting.
- Tier 2 deals with problems or concerns that Tier 1 cannot solve.
- Tier 3 manages the most challenging user issues and develops new solutions.
- Tier 4 provides parts and product or service replacements if the issue is unresolvable.
In general, the overall structure of a technical support team is as follows:
- Technical support agents are specialists or representatives who help customers or users with their requirements and demands.
- A team leader (TL) oversees agents and interacts with customers or users who escalate their issues.
- A supervisor is an officer who engages with a customer demanding to talk to someone of a higher rank than a TL.
8. Give Agents a Level of Authority
Choose an outsourced IT provider that empowers agents. Encouraging team members to always resolve customer issues themselves boosts morale. Agent performance improves as they experience and resolve challenging tasks within their capacity.
Here are some ways to empower help desk service agents:
- Asking for their input. Getting their opinions, comments, feedback, or suggestions makes agents feel appreciated and important.
- Involving them in the development of call scripts. Agents are the best people to ask about what customers need. Their contribution to making better call scripts must not be taken for granted.
- Offering them elbow room. Non-financial perks strengthen staff motivation and morale. Provide additional vacation periods, flexible work shifts, or longer coffee breaks as you see fit.
- Providing different training and wellness programs. Team-building and upskilling activities are pleasant changes for agents. There is no better way to do these exciting activities than outdoors or in a different location.
- Eliminating penalties for honest mistakes. Coach agents to minimize their work mistakes. Reward them when they go beyond the extra mile or exceed expectations.
9. Provide Multiple Communication Channels for All Customers
Choose a BPO partner that provides an omnichannel help desk and other back-office outsourcing services. Agents can interact with users anytime and anywhere with omnichannel capabilities.
Below are the communication channels to focus on:
- Live chat. This channel is convenient and quick. Agents can give answers to customer questions immediately.
- Email. This is a communication mode that easily tracks and documents online correspondence. It also allows the exchange of private data and files.
- Messaging apps. Many users depend on popular communication platforms (i.e., Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber) for customer service or IT support.
- Phone calls. Many still rely on traditional wired phone lines due to their durability and ease of use.
- Social media. Popular social networks, such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, are interactive platforms for community-based input and content-sharing.
10. Deliver Service With a Personal Touch
Choose a service provider with a personalized outsourced help desk. Human-touch solutions build stronger customer relationships than automated options. Live agents understand and empathize with customers’ emotions.
Remember these tips for providing individualized service:
- Talk to callers on a first-name basis. Call customers by their first names when talking on the phone or sending emails or messages.
- Start the conversation with a light topic. Most customers like to break the ice with small talk. Still, this method must not be applied to all callers.
- Observe good manners. Interact with customers patiently and politely. Treat them with empathy and honesty. These traits can help de-escalate their frustration from encountering product or service issues.
- Ask for comments. Callers appreciate being asked for feedback and suggestions for the company, services, or products.
- Review customer history. Personalize the experience by checking a customer’s past interactions, requests, and orders before and during the engagement.
11. Engage Customers and Users on Their Preferred Channels
Your BPO partner must be customer-centric. It must know customers’ communication preferences based on their demographics.
Each age group has a favorite platform. Here are some guides:
- Live chat. Generation Z (born from 1997 to 2012) primarily uses this channel.
- Email. Generation X (between 1965 and 1985) and baby boomers (between 1946 and 1964) depend on this communication mode.
- Messaging apps. Gen Z and millennials (from 1981 to 1996) are the primary users of chat apps.
- Phone calls. Baby boomers favor fixed phone lines or telephones, mobile phones included, over other channels.
- Social media. This network is popular among Gen Z and millennial users.
Except for baby boomers, the other age groups (Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z) are tech-savvy and familiar with the latest communication platforms.
12. Take Advantage of Customer Feedback
Customers and users prefer businesses that take their requests, ideas, and suggestions seriously. Agents must use consumer feedback for improvement.
Here are a few ways you can utilize feedback to increase consumer satisfaction and raise agent performance:
- Chart a customer journey. Callers express their wants, needs, and expectations through feedback. You can use the data to create an ideal customer journey.
- Discuss customer information with colleagues. Discuss customer complaints with the team and brainstorm ways of solving them. Congratulate the agents for good performance and the team for contributing to a balanced discussion.
13. Increase Support Speed
Outsourced help desk services must conserve money, effort, and time without sacrificing quality.
Sales and brand loyalty increase with fast response time. Meanwhile, high agent productivity leads to fast, high-quality service delivery. Business agility also boosts competitiveness.
To ensure fast response time, the BPO provider must:
- Determine and enhance metrics related to response time. Identify which key performance indicators (KPIs) reduce the time agents spend replying to consumer concerns. Remind the team to monitor KPIs and be as agile as possible.
- Empower the team with knowledge. Supply agents with updated product or service information to offer quick and correct answers to questions.
- Intensify live chats and chatbots. These communication channels help agents to multitask. They handle multiple messages simultaneously for faster service and support.
14. Secure Data Protection and Privacy at the Highest Level
Your BPO provider must keep sensitive and confidential consumer data safe. Insurance information, home addresses, medical records, credit card numbers, payroll information, and bank account numbers are examples of such data.
The provider must use cutting-edge cybersecurity technology and stay current. Your business’ reputation will suffer if your data security cannot stop online intrusions, privacy breaches, and cyberattacks.
Complying with federal laws and industry standards is also difficult without strict security policies. Failure to meet government and industry requirements results in fines and legal consequences.
To prevent internal and external data misuse, breaches, and compromise, have your service provider sign a non-disclosure agreement. The help desk, sales support, and customer service teams need permission to use company data.
15. Obtain the Latest Help Desk Software
Outsourced help desks must use advanced software to satisfy customers. Technology must boost worker productivity and efficiency.
A BPO provider’s help desk system must have the following features:
- Interactive voice response (IVR) is a programmed phone system that interacts with callers, providing them with a menu with various selections. IVR takes a particular action based on the caller’s choice.
- Predictive dialer speeds up outbound calls and suits marketing and sales groups well. It can determine agent availability and route agents to the right sales prospects.
- Automatic call distribution (ACD) is similar to IVR and is meant to streamline a large volume of inbound calls. It efficiently manages the communication process by distributing calls equally among available agents.
- Workforce management software is an application that helps managers organize and automate multiple tasks efficiently. It assists them in monitoring employees and resolving staffing, performance, and output issues.
16. Adopt Next-generation Technologies
The service provider must invest in future technologies for help desk services to take customer support to new heights. State-of-the-art applications and tools simplify communication lines and help meet consumer requirements quickly.
Here are examples of such technologies:
- Cloud computing enables all software, programs, and applications used in help desk services to work virtually and remotely for flexibility and cost-efficiency.
- Omnichannel solutions include all customer communication channels, unifying them into a single platform for seamless interaction anytime and anywhere.
- Cybersecurity is a high-level security technology that protects IT infrastructure (software, hardware, and data systems) from online threats and attacks.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that emulates human intelligence in digital machines and devices. Integrating AI applications into your processes allows you to achieve economies of scale.
- Robotic process automation (RPA) is an innovative, automated program that accomplishes certain tasks and helps live agents focus on more high-value tasks.
17. Slash Operating Costs
When you outsource data entry services and help desks, business costs (e.g., salaries and phone calls) go down over time. One of the main reasons for outsourcing is to reduce expenses while improving processes.
To decrease operating expenses, the service provider must:
- Curtail employee turnover. Retain the agents for as long as possible. A high turnover rate translates to higher recruitment costs due to various processes such as job advertising, screening, testing, interviewing, hiring, and training.
- Increase the use of messaging platforms. To reduce phone calls, intensify live chat, social media, and email use in customer communication. The messaging channels are more affordable and ideal for sending short and quick answers to customer queries.
- Improve first call resolution (FCR). Resolve a customer’s issues on the initial phone call as quickly as possible. Doing this regularly reduces per-minute call expenses significantly.
- Concentrate on self-service options. When more consumers check your FAQ pages and knowledge bases, agent-customer interactions lessen. As a result, your costs per call are lower.
18. Outsource Help Desk Services With a Reputable BPO Company
Outsourcing is ideal, but you must find the right BPO before you can enjoy the benefits of this business strategy.
When looking for a BPO partner, consider the following tips:
- Collaborate with a provider with a dedicated team of technical support specialists. This ensures that the BPO organization concentrates on your processes. A dedicated team comprises competent professionals who can deliver excellent service consistently.
- Partner with a firm that provides data privacy and security. The provider must have strict security protocols across its platforms to help you prevent financial loss and reputational damage. It must also meet your compliance and regulatory needs.
- Select a third-party vendor with an outstanding reputation. Opt for a BPO company with an extensive track record and many favorable reviews from the various startups and established companies it has worked with.
The Bottom Line
At this point, you should know how to outsource help desk services. There are more tips not covered in this article. But it is a good starting point to help you get on the right track.
Being well-informed about the subject is necessary to boost the chances of achieving your objectives. We hope this article provides essential resources and insights to aid your decision-making process.
The next step is to contact the different service providers to understand outsourcing better. A BPO company like Unity Communications is available to guide your journey.