What Is The Best Way To Set Up A Technical Support Call Center?
Setting up a technical support call center is an important milestone for any company. It means that your business has grown. You now have paying customers that expect support and ongoing service beyond what you and your existing infrastructure can address.
Your support operation is critical to the success of your business. It’s the final stage of your customers’ experience and it will generate loyalty. But more importantly, a good reputation is proven to be the number one factor in making a purchasing decision.
This is the beginning of a long and never ending journey–perfecting your customers’ experience.
The first step in opening a technical support call center
This leads to the first and most important choice you have to make when starting a technical support call center: do it yourself in house or outsource through a BPO? Both paths have their advantages and disadvantages.
When planning your contact center, there are a number of critical considerations to take into account. The questions in this article address those critical aspects and the answers you come up with will help you make the best choice for your business.
As you go through each question, you will gain a better understanding of your support needs and develop a better plan for your future customer support operation. You will make decisions about your business priorities, its stability, the value of customer service to your business, and your willingness to take financial risks.
The basics of selecting BPO or call center: Three pointers
- In house support is a big headache. As a technical support call center grows, it becomes its own small business and needs to be built with this in mind. It will require human resources, hardware, software, IT, and operations. This can be a daunting task. On the other hand, outsourcing your call center is simpler and can provide some relief to your current operation.
- BPOs are a business, and are looking to make a profit. These profits will be coming out of the money you’re paying for your customer service. “Pound for Pound” you need to look carefully at the value you are from a BPO. It will be more financially viable in the short term, but an in house operation can be a better long term investment.
- Nothing beats hands on service. As good as BPOs are, it will always provide a layer between you and your customers. When it’s in house, you will have more control over your support practices and the tools that are used for your contact center. In the long run, if done correctly, your customer service will be of a higher quality if done in house.
Now that the basic call center support tips are out of the way, let’s look at what you need to know in order to make the best decision for your business.
Financial stability of your business
How much money you have available will be a major factor in your decision.
BPOs are easy in the short term. It’s a plug and play solution. You get the price, plan, hook it up, and your support operation is on. You pay as you go, without the large investment of setting up an in house operation.
However, you will benefit from having an in house operation if you’re stable financially and can handle the startup costs. Eventually, your monthly costs are more likely to run lower and go further with an in house operation.
- Can you really afford starting an in house operation?
- Are you willing to take the risks in order to reap the benefits?
Once you have answered your financial questions, it will be time to address the structure and purpose of your call center.
What are the purpose and functionalities of your call center?
The answers are derived from your product or service, your customers, and your customer support needs.
In general, BPOs can easily handle a wide volume of incoming customer inquiries and are better at resolving simpler tasks (tier 1). They also are set with technologies that make your customer’s engagement easier across multiple channels.
An in house operation is going to be better at solving more complex issues (tier 2 and up) with your product/services. In house support will also add a personal touch to your service in cases where a critical decision needs to be made. For instance, the returning of a product and whether you are to provide a refund.
However, if your incoming service demands are frequent and you will receive inquiries via multiple channels (phone, chat, social, and text), then an in house operation may struggle to keep up, so in this scenario you may want to consider a BPO.
- What type of support do your customers need most?
- What channels do they utilize when handling support?
- What is the volume, frequency, timing, and urgency of your support inquiries?
Next, you will need to examine your business’s future.
Long and short term focus of your business
Your primary business objectives and goals are critical when starting a call center. You want to make sure that your center tech support operation is serving your business, but also not sucking the life out of it.
For instance, growth is the primary concern for young startups. They spend a majority of their time and money on sales, marketing, and product. For this type of business, it is a good idea to focus most of their resources on continued growth, and leave customer support to a BPO.
BPOs can easily scale up (and down) the size of your technical support call center, they also have multiple technologies available to deal with different support scenarios. If you are not clear on your plans and your business is still evolving, you are better off experimenting with someone else’s equipment, rather than investing in your own.
On the other hand, a high-end home theater hardware and installation company will use competitive customer support to enhance and strengthen their existing brand, so they may benefit from moving their customer support in house.
If you are clear about your business goals, and want to manage and optimize your service operations accordingly, then in house is the best option for you.
- What is your business focus? Growth? Brand enhancement? Customer service?
- Do you expect to need to make quick changes in the scope of your support operation?
- Is your business’s future clear and stable or is it volatile? Who will be directly responsible for your customer support operation?
Last but not least, you need to look at who will be in charge of your new contact center.
Qualifications of the person in charge of your technical support call center
Whether you choose in house customer support or tech support call center outsourcing through a BPO, someone on your current management team will have to oversee it. This can be the owner, COO, VP of Operations, or someone else.
As mentioned previously, an in house call center will become its own little business, but managing customer service through a BPO is a handful too. It will land on someone’s plate. That person in your business will be responsible for making it a success, so make sure you’re careful when picking the call center manager.
In the short term, setting up customer support is a very demanding task. If the person overseeing it doesn’t have previous experience, it will take a significant amount of effort and they’re bound to make mistakes. A BPO will make your setup much easier by doing a majority of the leg work for you.
In the long term, if you have done a good job setting up your in house customer support it will become easier and financially rewarding. Nevertheless, someone within your operation still needs to be attentive to customer service trends, your customer needs, technical innovations, etc. If you choose this path, make sure your point person understands what they are committing to.
- Who will take ownership of your support operation?
- What are their relevant strengths and weaknesses?
Making the choice: in house call center or BPO
Upon careful consideration of the questions outlined in this article, you will gain an insight into how to start a tech support call center and how it will affect your business. Both paths are good and valid. It’s all about making the right choice for your business.
Remember, you must take a serious look at your finances, find the purpose of your call center, determine your future growth and figure out who to put in charge. Those are your priorities when setting up your contact center. The answers will help you decide on whether to host your customer support in house or to outsource it to a BPO.