Transitioning Your Customer to an Outsourced Help Desk

You have made the decision (as we did) to outsource your Level 1 Help Desk. While this a difficult enough decision on its own, I can assure you that transitioning your customers will prove to be just as challenging. You work hard to develop your standards and culture, which your customers also grow accustomed to. Adapting an external team to these processes is no small feat and sacrifices will have to be made.

To aid in this process, here are a few issues we came across that are worth noting when transitioning to an outsourced Help Desk.

Ticket Intake Process

One of the most notable differences that we have found in using an outsourced Help Desk is the amount of time it takes from the phone being answered to the first troubleshooting steps to begin. Our internal team was accustomed to receiving calls from the same customers, so when they answered the phone, they would often recognize the number and the voice on the other end and be able to jump right into troubleshooting without much dialogue.

On the contrary, the outsourced Help Desk typically is forced to follow an intake script and is far less familiar with the customer. We found that the process of taking the customer’s information, looking up the account, and creating the ticket could take several minutes.

While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, the customer’s voiced otherwise. We found that this was the most frequent issue that our customers had after switching to an outsourced Help Desk. I suggest getting ahead of this issue and work with your Outsource partner to streamline this process as best as possible.

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Customer Reporting

As a company, we tried to create a culture of analytical accountability. Our technicians knew that every second that they spend on a ticket or project was to be logged in our system. Our team adhered to this policy because they knew that our intention was not to track and discipline their lack of productivity as much as it was to measure the profitability of customer contracts.

We reported on this information and shared it with customers so that they could see whether or not their use was excessive. After we transitioned to an outsourced Level 1 team, this became very difficult. No matter how many times we tried to reinforce it, the outsource team just did not have the same standard for time tracking as we did. This information suddenly became inaccurate and was of little use for customer negotiations.

If your company relies on resource time logged for reporting, be sure to stress this to your outsource partner from day one of your transition period.

Time & Materials Billing

The standard (or lack there of) for resource time logged can also have a significant effect on billing for T&M customers. While the customer’s never voiced a concern over this, it was obviously an issue for our bottom line.

Our average hours billed dropped significantly, so much so that we eventually had to pull all T&M customers away from the outsource team and work them internally until we figured out how to fix the issue.

If you are fully committing to an outsourced Help Desk model, I would suggest renegotiating your T&M contracts before hand. You may need to increase rates or change how you round up time to make up for the lost time logged.

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Small Talk with Customer

We often received feedback from customers that our outsourced technicians were “very professional” and “polite” but were not always “friendly.” After listening to hours of calls, we happened to agree with them. There was a general lack of “small talk” and a lot of dead air when the outsourced technicians were working tickets.

While this is something that is very difficult to manage, it can actually make a difference in how customer’s ultimately perceive your service. We always encouraged our internal team to be who as human as possible even if it comes off a little less polished.

This may be something that you want to prepare your customer’s for so they are not surprised when it occurs. It is also may be worth the effort of having an account manager reach out more often, just for small talk to help reinforce the human side of your brand.

I hope that this information can help you get ahead of some of the hiccups we faced and lead to a much smoother transition to your outsourced Help Desk. If you have any questions about how we overcame certain issues or if you have had other issues yourself, feel free to post them in the comments below.