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The Future of Technical Support Outsourcing: Top Trends and Things to Know

2018 is coming to a close, and most people live, breathe, and eat the Internet. It has empowered consumers to perform a lot of tasks that previously took a lot of time to do, such as shopping, learning, banking, and more. The world has become a smaller place because of this, as the internet allows people all over the world to meet at a common place: online.

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To keep up with the needs of the people, businesses have also migrated to this space. Naturally, each company aims to provide the best products and solutions for consumers globally.

In an ideal world, business operations go smoothly and customers never have any problems or issues at all. Sadly, we’re not living in that world. If your website, e-commerce store, customer support system, or any other online channels break down, various aspects of your business could be compromised. It could even create a negative impression with your consumers or hurt your sales.

So, in a world connected by the internet, social media, and smart devices, it’s in almost every business’ best interest to invest in technical support outsourcing. It’s more than just the digital version of calling a plumber to fix your leaking pipes.

 

Tech Support Outsourcing at a Glance

Companies need tech support for a variety of reasons, and the core focus of the support will depend on what their priorities are and the industry that they operate in. Here are some of the most commonly outsourced tech support functions and how they add value to a company:

Data security – Secure data servers are essential for the business as well as their consumers. For one, company data may contain business plans, financial plans, and any or all tactics that companies use to grow. This is top secret information that should not fall into other people’s hands. On the other side, there’s sensitive information that customers entrust businesses with (credit card details, residential address, etc.) that should also be protected at all times.

Automation – Processes run faster and more efficiently when things are automated—whether it’s payroll, marketing, or inventory management, analyzing and improving the processes that can cut down operation times is crucial.

Customer service – In the age where the customer is king, it’s absolutely essential to add value to the customer experience wherever possible to stand out from the competition. Customer service and support play a huge role in defining the overall customer experience quality. And although it might not directly affect business growth, it more than makes up for it by fostering trust, loyalty, and advocacy.

Software Application Development/Maintenance –  The digital age has brought about an increased number of software projects, which can be costly to develop in-house. Outsourcing app development and maintenance helps reduce overhead costs associated with software implementation and provides the necessary technical expertise to provide high service quality.

Cloud services – The usage of cloud services has been commonly associated with Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) businesses. This involves applications that are hosted by the vendor and made available to customers through a network (the internet). This approach lets businesses create and implement applications without needing to invest in the underlying infrastructure, reducing costs and increasing overall efficiency.

 

The Future of Technical Support Outsourcing

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  • Technical Support Outsourcing Market Growth

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the technical support outsourcing marketing is growing steadily. It is set to achieve a CAGR of 8% by 2022, denoting that the industry is about to expand due to new technologies and higher demand from businesses.

 

  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants

IBM reports that 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without human agents by 2020. Customer-centric business practices are here to stay, and chatbots help businesses achieve this. By always being there for the consumer, their questions are quickly addressed in a fast and timely manner.

This opens up new opportunities for the tech outsourcing scene by creating new roles and functions within the industry. IT experts will now have to work with the latest technology like AR, VR, IoT, and the like.

 

  • Cloud Services

Cloud services are not just limited to enterprises anymore. Small-to-medium businesses are set to migrate to cloud computing to optimize their business process, increase productivity, and reduce hardware costs. It is projected that cloud traffic will increase 3.7 times by 2020.

This is easily becoming one of the top reasons why companies outsource IT support. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and these days, they’re a business staple.

 

  • Emerging Markets

IT services are commonly outsourced in India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In the coming years, this is set to change. Studies suggest that new markets in Vietnam, Colombia, and the Czech Republic will compete with existing markets in offering the best and affordable tech support. This signals that demand is rising, and the tech support outsourcing industry is growing.

 

  • Augmented Reality

The adoption of AR can change the tech support industry as a whole by allowing remote teams to help each other more effectively. A great example is Porsche’s AR program Tech Live Look, which allows their tech experts in Atlanta to help on-site mechanics solve issues in various dealerships. They were able to cut down service time by almost half and communicate with other team members more seamlessly while in different locations.

 

  • Predictive Analytics

Data has gotten smarter with predictive analytics. Benchmarking and calculating performance improvements will become more manageable as new tech can now analyze past metrics, customer behavior, and service outcomes. This will allow businesses to focus on their ops and keep all teams aligned with their goals.

 

  • Rising Demand for Cost-Effective Solutions

Having onsite technicians can burn a hole in a company’s wallet. Outsourcing has long been proven to help lessen that cost, and still allow businesses to provide high-quality support internally and to their loyal customers. The rising demand for this service creates a bigger market share for the tech support outsourcing industry.

 

  • Network Security

A 2017 Enterprise IT Services Survey notes that networking security is the number one priority of digital businesses. Almost half (47%) of the enterprises surveyed mentioned they outsource data security more often than any other IT service.

With the recent data breaches from major digital companies (i.e., Facebook and Google) enterprises are now compelled to focus on corporate and customer data. IT outsourcing contracts will include specific clauses to prevent data breaches and manipulation.

 

  • Customer-centric Servicing

Automated customer service is not limited to time zones or public holidays. This allows companies to deliver round-the-clock customer service and resolve issues at a faster rate. In effect, this can increase brand loyalty.

 

  • Online Reputation Management

Companies, whether digital or not, all have an online presence. They quickly realize how pertinent having social reputation management is to their name, whether they tap social media, online PR, or SEO services from their outsourcing partner.

 

  • AI and Robotic Process Automation (RBA)

RBA will continue to lower the cost of outsourced tech support services. Companies will prefer vendors that can provide this versus those that can’t. This makes use of AI workers and robots to automate common and repetitive software development tasks for increased process efficiency and cost-savings.

 

  • Adopting Emerging Technologies

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and machine learning, among others, tech systems face a lot of advancements and updates at a much faster pace. Outsourced tech support agents are usually the best people companies can approach, as they are always updated with the latest tech buzz and innovative software.

 

  • Customer Identity and Access Management

CIAM software can provide a seamless cross-channel customer experience. It’s a rich database containing all information about your buyers. With this, both IT teams and managers identify the best way to market to customers. Yet another function businesses are looking to outsource.

 

  • Closer Relationships with Managed Service Providers (MSP)

The search is on for professional and loyal IT teams. Managers are now keen on the idea of having Managed Service Providers as consultants and business partners, further illustrating the importance of tech support for organizations.

 

  • Complete Integration from Managed Service Providers (MSP)

Companies prefer to have one MSP providing all their outsourced IT functions. In line with making MSPs business partners, this will allow for seamless integration, so that all business functions can work together in sync.

 

Final Thoughts

Thanks to our increasingly tech-filled world, IT services aren’t going out of style anytime soon. Effectively managed tech support and services can pose a lot of benefits for your business, from increased manpower and lowered costs to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.

With the rising demand and advancing technology, the tech support sector is definitely poised to continue growing rapidly over the next few years. It’ll be interesting to see what other developments come next!

 

Contact us today to learn more about what the future of technical support outsourcing means for your business!


Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

Will Bots Really Replace the Human Customer Support Role?

Perhaps it took longer than expected, but the rise of the machines is now at hand. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming more advanced and is now being used in a host of applications. It’s changing the technological landscape as we know it, bringing us closer to Cyberdyne System’s Skynet computer.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, folks. We’re currently working on and perfecting AI functions that can help us humans do simple, labor-intensive ‘narrow’ tasks across different industries. A neural network controlled by a sentient AI computer is still far from reality, but with the way things are going, it’s not impossible.

Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

The progress we’ve been making in the field of artificial intelligence has been no less impressive. Machines can now perform predictive analysis, deductive reasoning and natural language understanding, which are all needed in understanding and predicting what the user needs or maybe offer recommendations for the next action.

Now that we’re taking the development of AI in the right direction, it is found to have good use in the field of customer service. Chatbots are now all the rage in the tech world, simulating conversations with people to address their questions or perform simple tasks. These bots are now booming not only in text conversations but in verbal exchanges as well. Yes, we’re looking at you, Alexa.

 

AI’s Role in Customer Support

Businesses need a fast and efficient customer support service to address all their customers’ concerns. This helps them forge good relationships, making it an essential factor in running a successful business. And with chatbots now taking the place of humans in online conversations, they are revolutionizing the customer service industry.

Chatbots automate conversations with real humans by delivering the right responses according to how they are programmed to do so. With language processing now an integral part of AI, conversations are more seamless, as if you’re having one with a real human being. Advancements are set to further make it harder to discern if you’re chatting with a person or perhaps Threepio.

Many companies embrace a chatbot’s functions as a means to complement or even reduce the need for call centers. As human-to-human chat conversations become a thing of the past, this will significantly reduce operating costs.

For now, chatbots are used to collect basic information, with the more advanced versions providing resolutions for increasingly more complex issues. This speeds up response times and frees agents for more challenging work that requires a more advanced brain. Yes, the one responsible for creating chatbots in the first place.

 

Why Bots are Here to Stay

The bots we’ve read about or seen in fiction were made to serve humans, and their purpose hasn’t changed one bit in real life. Now that AI-driven chatbots are being extensively used in the field of customer support to perform repetitive and simple tasks, they are proving to be invaluable.

Despite being relatively basic, bots can help relieve humans of the grunt work, which can streamline any process and make things move along faster and a bit easier. This saves loads of time and money for the company during the technical support process. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Process Efficiency

When calls come in, human agents go through the motions of collecting information from the concerned customer before they proceed to address the issue. AI-driven bots can streamline this step and cut the time it takes to complete this task, so a human agent can resolve the issue at hand. Although support ticket qualification is a fairly simple task, automating it can result in huge time savings.

 

  • Cost Efficiency

When processing time is lessened to a considerable degree, more calls can be processed within the day. This significantly decreases the operational cost by taking in more customers who need help in a single day. When AI becomes more advanced, pretty soon there will be more stages in the operation that can be taken over by bots. This will allow humans to focus on more difficult tasks and become even more cost-efficient.

 

  • Better Customer Experience

Once the process is streamlined to a point where your service addresses all customer concerns in a reasonable period of time, you will leave them feeling satisfied with the whole interaction. The bots help make the process faster, and the human touch becomes more focused on a customer’s needs. All this leads to a better customer experience, creating a competitive advantage for your brand.

 

  • Timeliness

Machines are all about speed and precision. They help cut work time to achieve results faster, which is the reason why AI-driven bots are increasingly becoming popular. Additionally, the risk of human error is basically non-existent. So, when it comes to menial tasks, bots are faster and more accurate – it really isn’t much of a competition.

 

But Will They Replace Humans?

With AI being able to handle increasingly sophisticated tasks, many believe they’re a growing threat to us humans. People are under the impression that they will start taking jobs away from us, and before we know it, they will gain sentience and start making slaves out of us ‘fleshies.’ That is one dystopian future nobody wants to become a reality.

But before we get in over our heads, AI-driven machines aren’t about to take us out. We are still at a stage where we are finding ways to make machines help make our jobs easier. And regardless of how far we’ve made them more advanced, there will always be a need for a human touch.

Humans take a lot of things into consideration when making an important decision. There are intangibles involved, such as emotions and creativity, which they combine with logic to arrive at the best outcome from any situation. On the other hand, bots based theirs purely on data and may be limited in scope.

 

Final Note

The advancements happening in AI technology are something to look forward to, but for some, they could be a threat. Even tech magnate Elon Mask has expressed concerns about AI warning us that it may create an ‘immortal dictator that we can’t escape from'.

But fret not! There won’t be any T-1000s hunting us down anytime soon. The whole point of AI-driven machines is to help us humans from labor-intensive tasks that can shorten the process. This makes the combined efforts of AI and humans more effective, with humans still overseeing that everything is going the way as planned.

Your job is safe. For now at least…

 

Looking for help with your technical support initiatives? At Intelligent Bee, we've got a team of experts (with the human touch) ready to provide flexible solutions at competitive prices. Contact us today!


Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical Support Scams to Watch Out For (and How to Spot Them)

Technology has helped the world in many ways, but there’s no denying that there’s a dark side to it. For instance, phones, computers, and the internet can be exploited by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting users into giving up personal information, and to some extent, their properties too.

Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical support scams do just that—they fool the unaware into thinking that there’s something wrong with their system and equipment, make them contact an unknown number, and steal personal information as victims are unknowingly being tricked. There are also instances wherein the scammers are the ones who call the user.

 

Tech Support Scams in Numbers

These types of cons are nothing new, but admittedly a lot of people still fall for it, especially since criminals keep finding new ways to conduct their fraudulent activities. A 2016 survey sponsored by Microsoft found that 2 in 3 people have experienced a type of tech support scam within the past 12 months; 1 in 10 have lost money.

In 2017, Microsoft’s Customer Support Services received 153,000 reports of such scams from 183 countries, with a 24% rise from the previous year. Approximately 15% of those who reported lost an average of $200 and $400.

Virtually anyone who owns a connected device is vulnerable—even though Microsoft is often namedropped by tech support scammers (with the company receiving 12,000 complaints every month globally), having a device other than Windows cannot protect a person either, as these deceptive acts can also fool those who use MacOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems.

In terms of age, scams reported to Microsoft tend to be from older customers. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found evidence that the elderly are more impacted by fraud as compared to the younger generations. However, it was also found that millennials (ages 18–34) are more likely to continue with a fraudulent tech offer compared to other age groups.

The underlying cause, though, is that many people are fooled into thinking that they are working with a legitimate business, whether that user is old or not.

 

The Fallout

As mentioned, tech support scams are designed to trick users into believing that their devices are compromised. The frauds will then coerce the user into purchasing unnecessary support services. In some instances, they will request access to the user’s device by getting sensitive information or making them install dubious apps that can remotely retrieve the details they need.

In December 2014, when tech support scams hit mainstream media, Microsoft sued several companies for unfair and deceptive business practices and trademark infringement. Later in 2015, the FTC announced the shutdown of several tech support scammers that pretended to be associated with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and stole a combined $17 million from consumers.

In another case, the FTC had to give out partial refunds to around 37,000 victims of a fraudulent tech support company named Inbound Call Experts. This is after the company tricked consumers into buying unnecessary products and services by pretending that there is something wrong with their computers, all of which happened from April 2012 to November 2014.

No matter how big a business is, taking a legal action remains to be an arduous process. In this instance, Microsoft had to deal with the consequence of additional costs to fix issues that the company didn’t intend to put themselves into.

Despite Microsoft proving their innocence, there’s no denying that negative news like fraud can have a lasting impact on consumers. Those who don’t know better would likely continue to associate Microsoft with the fraudsters.

 

Spotting the Sham

The best way to avoid falling into shady acts is knowing what constitutes a tech support scam.

 

  1. Unsolicited Calls

This outdated yet effective sham is done through cold calls. The fraudster who claims to be from a reputable company will call the target and say that the company found something wrong on the computer.

Microsoft and other companies often employ outsourced tech support, but no tech company will ever reach out to the consumer, even if it’s in the name of public service. Microsoft’s security bulletin reads, "Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you." That means users will only receive a call if they request it.

In addition, caller IDs can be manipulated to show only the company name, but not the number, so it’s not reliable either. Hang up if this ever happens, and never give any personal information.

 

  1. Phishing Emails

It’s easy to fall for a phishing email because it does look like a message from a legitimate source. But once the target clicks and visits a malicious link included for a fake site that the scammers control, they will then be fooled into filling out a form with their sensitive information like email password, credit card details, bank account number, etc.

Again, the best way to avoid this practice is to ignore it (and delete the email, too) and never reply. Don't click any of the links on it, either. Remember to change passwords regularly as well.

 

  1. Sketchy Advertising or Pop-ups

Pop-ups appear when users are browsing the Internet and visit a website that contains suspicious links that, when clicked, will redirect them to a site hosting the pop-ups. These pop-ups can get so intrusive that it can become difficult for the user to close them as they appear.

Often, these pop-ups will contain a message stating that the computer is infected or that it will be locked down, blocking internet access, or making it unusable. The message will usually be accompanied by a phone number which the user can contact to fix the problems, or so it claims.

First off, you should know that legitimate IT support groups will not use pop-up messages to alert you of issues, so it’s best to ignore these messages. Aside from that, scrutinize the message and look for poor spelling or grammar and lousy imagery, which would usually imply fraud. A quick Google search can also support the legitimacy of the contact details included.

 

  1. Confusing Search Results

Interestingly enough, fraudulent companies also have budgets to use legitimate paid search channels to advertise their fake support services. To be on the safe side, study the website chosen before retaining a company’s services and always keep an eye out for trust signals.

 

In Conclusion

As long as technology continues to advance, so will the swindlers who continue to take advantage of users, especially those who aren’t well-versed in the technological aspect. The responsibility remains with users and consumers, as they need to stay vigilant in this thriving yet perilous age of information security. Tech companies, meanwhile, should do their part and ensure better protection for their clients.


Experience has it: 10 best practices for outstanding customer support services

Outsourced customer support is the future. Whether you’re a startup or a company with more than 100 employees, the need for customer support is rising due to the fact that products aren’t perfect, yet we aim for perfection when it comes to our services. “How can you remain on top of the game in the field of customer support?” is a question we hear a lot lately and we wanted to share with you 10 best practices that we learned in 7 years of experience with partners such as SendGrid and Cloud Elements.

Before we start, let us underline once again the idea of a customer support department. Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, the customer support department of a SaaS company should reduce customer churn. The product or service can be outstanding, yet the technical support that you are offering is crucial in your relationship with your customers. After more than 7 years of work with SendGrid and Cloud Elements, we gathered 10 best practices that will set you ahead of your competitors.

 

1. Hire the best people to represent your service/ product.

We can all agree that your agents are your brand’s diplomats. You form and maintain connections through them with the customers that will keep you in business. Hire and retain experienced people and exceptional outsourced customer support will follow.

2. Offer customer support on more than one channel, including live chat.

Instant communication channels can save or ruin the image that a client has about your product/service. When it all comes to customer’s expectations, the best way to offer a quick and helpful answer is through chat. Make it easy for customers to interact with you and don’t keep them waiting.

3. Encourage self-service.

More than 67% users prefer a self-service support over speaking to a company representative. It’s a fact that can be turned around in your favor once you create a FAQs page with content that answers common questions that customers usually come up with. From a FAQs page to regularly posting basic troubleshooting articles on your website, encourage self-service and you will receive a better feedback for product or service enhancements.

4. Attitude is everything.

When working on a customer support service, your positive attitude can turn a problem into a solution in no time. You know that in business, you never get a second chance for making a first good impression. Have the customer in mind and deliver responsive and personalized support.

5. Listen to customers.

The key to effective communication is active listening. Even when the customer is upset or angry, your customer support agent should treat him cordially, eager to give advice and to find a real-time solution. If you’re active listening to your customers, not only you will find more about the issue encountered and you will give better advice, but you will leave an imprint in your customer’s mind.

6. Ownership can change an issue into a solution.

Empower your representatives to make decisions in real time and to act upon customer’s best interest. If the issue needs more information in order to be classified as resolved, your customer support agents should follow up and address the issue further on until it’s resolved.

7. Honor your commitments.

Do what you say you will do. Earning trust and respect are key-points in the relationship between a company and its customers. Tell your customers exactly what they can expect from you and then go hard to exceed those expectations. That way, your customers will see that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

8. Set KPIs.

It’s important to always measure the success of a customer support team. For that, use KPIs and metrics that should be defined as parameters in judging the performance of a customer support agent or a technical support team.

9. Regularly train your agents.

Properly training your representatives can give them the power to make on-the-spot decisions that can change an issue into a solution. Ensure that they completely understand the product and the process and conduct refresher training sessions when there are any product enhancements. A well prepared customer support agent is a key point in maintaining your customers happy.

10. Ask for feedback.

A feedback at its time can change the path of your company. A study by The George Washington University from Washington, DC, shows that users will share their experiences with 8 out of 10 persons they meet. Ask customers to review your service after each session in order to find out if it was helpful or what aspects you should change.

Customer support in this century is the secret weapon of every business that respects itself. Without a customer support department, you can’t have a business that it’s focused on the customer, therefore you can’t really grow. For an outstanding customer support service, follow these best practices that we gathered in 7 years of experience.

We would love to hear about your experience and how they worked for your business.


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The Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Success Teams

When we talk about your business product or service, there is no doubt that both support and success teams are considered as essential assets for the entire customer lifecycle. Since customer support and customer success are often intertwined, we think that is critical to define and understand their differences and roles, especially when your company’s output is based on a certain tech infrastructure.

Customer support – A necessary way to be there for your customers.

Dedicated support teams pursue to ensure customer satisfaction through ongoing technical support for a certain product or service. These kinds of teams solve customer’s challenges, questions and concerns regarding individual issues and provide technical guidance. For a better understanding, we should define a couple of specific traits.

Removes obstacles

Regardless of the customer support channel – email, chat or call – the team in charge solves their problems as soon as customers submit a ticket or send an email, not before. Thus, the role of customer support is to meet their needs in a reactive manner, meaning that whenever an issue emerges they take care of it. In this way, a support team removes any kind of obstacles when it emerges in customer’s direct interaction path by providing necessary resources such as documentation or self-service portals.

Focuses on cost

The number of favorable customer experiences is inversely proportional to financial losses. In other words, based on Nicereply point of view, if a support team provide efficient solutions for customer’s problems, the churn rate, which means here the annual percentage at which customers stop subscribing to a service, will be reduced. However, support teams aren’t strictly a centered-cost department, as originally built, they can also impact revenue by advising on common reasons for churn or identify upsell and cross self-opportunities in their conversations with your business customers.

Has short-term objectives

According to Hubspot, support interactions are transactional which means when a customer submits a certain issue or question, those are solved by a support assistant – and may have in view immediate technical or usage issues. After all, the main purpose of support teams is to solve specific issues as quickly as possible in order to drive customer satisfaction, which is the main baseline for success teams.

Customer success – The next step in scaling customer experience.

From Gainsight perspective, customer success manages company-customer interactions and aligns client and vendor goals for mutually beneficial outcomes. Success teams influence revenue through their proactive actions in order to accomplish long-term objectives, but we will talk about all of these attributes below:

Uses proactive strategies

The main objective of a success team consists in initiating conversations with your customers before they contact you. Therefore, they have to be proactive, meet their needs, anticipate them and identify opportunities to solve problems that they are not yet confronted with, but they might be. Identifying these solutions in advance must be based on the company’s long-term objectives. Their job is to make sure that customers understand the full potential and value they can achieve from your product/service. In other words, success teams ensure insights-access for users regarding the most efficient way to use your solution and adopt it on a long-term.

Focuses on revenue

In this context, when we talk about scaling your business, customer success teams play their main role. They focus less on technical issues and more on the aspects that are directly related to business development. So they drive expansion via churn-reduction as in decreasing the number of unsubscribed customers and up-selling, cross-selling, referrals techniques in order to promote your business solutions.

Customer Success provides a whole mechanism not only for uncovering upsell and cross-sell opportunities but also for gaining advantage from them. Besides that, it’s the most desirable way to initiate reduction, helping subscription growth for a certain product or service.

Has long-term objectives

Success team’s interactions don’t have an end-point. As we mentioned earlier, they look at the entire customer’s process lifecycle in order to solve universal adoption issues and other common narrows that prevent users from achieving their goals. Moreover, as Gainsight believes, ensuring customer success brings about a significant positive impact on businesses as they focused on increasing retention, repeated purchases or lifetime value.

Different roles, same team

To conclude, support and success teams provide services for customers and help them generate value for your company. Both of them focus on successfully integrate the product or service in your users’ lifecycle with each aid, improving retention, boosting value, and increasing advocacy. The best businesses succeed in bringing support and success together, leveraging their differences to consolidate this entire process of removing obstacles that prevent your business customers from achieving their goals.