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Article : Technical Support Services

In today's competitive business and technology-oriented environment, the need for customer support is rising. The one thing that differentiates an organization from its competitors is the level and quality of customer service provided. Price, quality and now the support and service customers receive from an organization are changing the paradigms of customer loyalty and business value. Technical support is one service under Customer Interaction services, which requires technical knowledge, and business communications skills. This white paper provides information on what Technical Support is all about, its sensitivity in the BPO industry and its impact on deriving business value for an organization.

The Need…

This is the digital era, wherein companies are leveraging technology to develop new products and services. Similarly customers are demanding more services around it. Sales is no longer a one step process, but an ongoing process of sales support and service which is imperative for building market image, customer loyalty and increasing market share. Need of software, hardware, and resource maintenance is increasing at an amazing rate. This has created a need for companies to establish effective and efficient means of providing technical support to satisfy customer expectations. Catering to general customer complaints, queries and problems are one aspect of customer support, but technical support entails catering to a range of technical product/service related problems that the customer may have.

Technical support services can be defined as providing reliable technical support to the end users of companies that deliver technology-enabled products and services.

This is atypical of generic customer service as it bridges the gap between an organization's non-technical customers and the technical world. Technical support must cater to both business-to-business and business-to-consumer segments.

In the BPO industry, like other customer interaction services, consumers are expecting 24 hours a day seven days a week customer service. Increasing volume of users and competition has led to organizations outsource the technical support service to third party vendors. Outsourcing also brings about other benefits, such as specially trained representatives, expert software and hardware systems, and the ability to up-sell and cross-sell through each client's products and service offerings.

Benefits Of Outsourcing Technical Support:

  • Enhanced customer service by leveraging on the technical expertise of the supplier of outsourcing services

  • Reduced costs in terms of capital expenditure of developing, staffing and maintaining an internal help desk operations

  • Round-the-clock services enabling increased customer satisfaction and value addition to customers

  • Increased business value by up selling and cross selling through client's product and service offerings and warranty upgrades

  • Organizations can utilize their technical expertise on development of new, revenue-generating products and services

  • Feedback from the outsourcer with regard to end user problems can help them modify their products and services

  • Increased customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer retention.

  • Consolidation of repetitive tasks from a single location

Must Haves Of The Outsourcing Service Provider:

  • Infrastructure in terms of telecom & technology and network connectivity to provide round the clock services

  • Technically qualified staff that can provide accurate information in the simplest language catering to non-technical users also

  • Providers must also specialize in call screening, routing, logging and tracking and must be able to escalate calls to the next level or take suitable actions such as calling back after getting more information and keeping end users informed on the status of their query

  • Compliance to industry specific quality and information security standards

  • Ability to provide services across all media including telephone, e-mail and web

  • Ability to scale with the organization's customers and new products & services

  • Ability of the provider to generate customized reports

  • Adherence to client defined policies, regulations and data integrity laws

  • Ability to provide customized training to its personnel

Qualities Of Good Technical Support Services:
Responsive – Technical support needs to be immediate in terms of the response – be it problem solving or order logging or escalating the request to the next level. They need to keep the end user informed on the status of their query either by mail or by telephone till the problem is resolved.

Relevance – Customers need relevant information wherein they expect organizations not to inundate them with excess information or provide minimal information.

Customized – Technical support needs to be tailored to the product/services of specific to the organizations.

Technical Support Is Provided Across The Following Channels:
Telephone – Live support includes troubleshooting for standard hardware/software issues, connectivity, data and voice configurations.

Web-Based (Email/chat/IM/portals) – This is particularly useful for customers having a high degree of technical knowledge who prefer to use the web for solving problems.

Remote Diagnostic And Collaborative Browsing Tools – This involves delivering technical support services through the Internet/Intranet/LAN. Examples include net meeting and messaging tools.

Self-Help resources, which utilize a knowledge management framework using, advanced technologies. E.g. extranet or the Internet.

Technical Support Services Can Be Classified As:
Technical Support, which are further classified into various levels. (This is described in detail in the next section).

Enterprise-wide Help Desk Services – This is for organizations that are IT driven and users depend on IT for their day-to-day work. Organization's internal help desk services are also offered from offshore locations, which support the organization's specific computing environment, applications (standard and custom) and infrastructure.

Levels Of Technical Support Provided:
Level 1 technical support acts as the front end to filter calls to the respective departments. This level team also responds to incoming calls, logs calls, attempts resolution and escalates to level 2. This type of support involves answering to basic queries and do not necessarily involve technically qualified staff.

Level 2 support provides advanced support for problems related to hardware, software and applications. Typical jobs involve troubleshooting, product installation and support, usage support and maintenance issues. This requires certified professionals with the ability to solve typical technical problems.

Level 3 support provides the highest level of support and requires senior level people with the technical ability to resolve complex problems.

About 24/7 Customer:
24/7 Customer's proprietary framework- Customer 360º - an integrated Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) model extends service solutions that effectively integrate the customer experience across all customer touch points. Customer 360º comprises a portfolio of services that span customer interaction services, back office services and customer analytics.

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Published: Friday, March 4, 2005

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