If you are thinking of outsourcing your help desk, and if you are confused by some mixed messages you are receiving on the subject, we hear you.
After all, there are both pros and cons to outsourcing your IT help desk. In other words, there are advantages of keeping IT support in-house, and there are advantages to outsourcing (and advantages to combining the two options).
To make sense of what appears to be conflicting advice, you must always consider what’s best for your organization. What is an advantage for another organization might very well be a disadvantage for yours.
At Global Help Desk Services, Inc. (GHDSi), we’ve learned over the decades that outsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all model. (Another thing we’ve learned? When the model does fit, the ROI of an outsourced help desk can be pretty impressive.)
So, without further ado, here is our examination of what to consider before outsourcing your IT help desk, as well as the pros and cons that will help you make the best choice for your company.
Pros: Outsourcing has the advantage of taking a great deal of pressure off your company. You are no longer concerned with solving mundane and repetitive IT issues, such as helping users reset their passwords. This frees up your staff to focus on issues and initiatives that add value. You also lose the stress, expense and hassle that comes with managing an in-house help desk team.
Cons: Outsourcing means you lose control, maybe a little, maybe a lot. It will be more complicated to make the kinds of changes and corrections you have been used to making. Plus, outsourced help desk providers differ in their level of flexibility. You may choose a vendor that uses specific processes, playbooks, protocols and escalation rules, offering you little flexibility.
Pros: Outsourcing your help desk eliminates the high capital costs required to set up or grow an in-house help desk.
You also eliminate the ongoing costs of managing servers, hiring and training staff, processing data and more.
Several IT help desk outsourcing pricing models exist, making it easier to find one that works with your business’s needs.
Cons: Every pricing model can seem attractive, and it may be difficult to accurately gauge which one is the best fit for your organization (that link in the “Pros” column can help).
Some pricing models, like “pay per call” or “pay per minute” may encourage inefficiency in less scrupulously managed companies
Pros: These vendors are ideal for organizations that require their help desk to be in the same time zone as their customers and employees, to speak fluent English, and to understand American culture and idioms.
Cons: These vendors are not always a good fit for organizations located outside the United States, particularly organizations whose salaries for in-house help desk staff are much lower than those for help desks in the United States.
Pros: US companies that outsource their help desk to a country other than the United States typically slash their IT support costs. Help desks that operate out of the Philippines, for example, have labor costs that are up to 70% cheaper than US-based outsourced help desks.
Cons: Outsourcing to overseas firms can come at a price. Even if the agents’ spoken English is impeccable, regional accents may be difficult for American ears to understand. This can alienate many customers and users, and also causes a rise in shadow IT.
Pros: If your organization experiences seasonal spikes in call volumes, outsourcing helps you manage these spikes easily. Outsourcing also helps when you roll out new technologies or services, and see your call volumes spike as a result.
Cons: If your in-house team manages seasonal spikes, there is no increase in your costs (although your KPIs may take a beating). When you outsource, seasonal spikes typically result in a bigger bill.
Pros: Outsourced help desks may be more likely than in-house help desks to deliver outstanding service because they have more skin in the game. They know that they must work hard week in, week out, to earn and keep your business.
A help desk employee may quit your company for another. But an outsourced help desk vendor cannot afford to lose you as a customer.
Cons: Not all outsourced help desk providers are 100% committed to offering help desk services. Some managed service providers and value-added resellers, for example, offer help desk services. But these services account for only 10% of their revenue or focus.
As such, they may drop the ball on help desk services from time to time if other priorities interfere. This makes them less accountable than firms (like GHDSi) who focus 100% on help desk services.
Pros: Outsourced help desk suppliers are in the business of offering employees that have a strong range of skillsets. This can be an excellent way for even small IT teams to gain access to niche or otherwise difficult-to-hire skillsets.
Cons: On-demand expertise comes at a price. If you need your outsourced help desk to offer a wide variety of skills – or extremely specialized ones – then you will pay accordingly to have that expertise at your disposal.
Pros: A well-run outsourced help desk knows it’s not enough to have technical skills – the people skills are just as important.
Help desk staff with appropriate customer service training can provide a truly pleasant experience, even if the caller is confused, frazzled or downright rude.
Additionally, a great customer experience improves utilization rates and lowers the risk of shadow IT.
Cons: Some well-meaning help desks prioritize technical expertise over customer service skills, instead of recognizing them as twin pillars of a successful help desk. As such, the help might be excellent – but the experience may be less so.
Even worse, some help desks prioritize bottom-dollar prices over…well, much of anything else, providing a customer experience that generates howls of frustration from users.
When examining the pros and cons of IT help desk outsourcing, it’s easy to see why the shortest answer is, “It depends.”
It depends on your business, its call volumes, the level of support needed and so much more. The right-fit outsourced IT help desk can help you deliver better IT support, improve response times and lower your costs per ticket.
The wrong-fit one can cause a lot of headaches.
The key is to look at the considerations we’ve listed in this blog (and any other relevant ones we may have left out) and decide where your top priorities lie. Look for an outsourced IT help desk provider with proven success in handling those top priorities – and then see what flexibility they might have around the rest of it. And once you find that right fit, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
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