One of the most important things to keep in mind when outsourcing is that the agents will be representing you! The time spent with tech support is often the only direct contact you have with your customers. And it occurs when your customers are feeling vulnerable, since they have a problem and need help fixing it. It’s important to look very hard at the quality and type of agent who is doing the talking.
INTUITIVE PROBLEM SOLVERS
Resist the urge to put customer service reps in front of a script, calling it Tier 1, and hoping it will get the job done. That only forces the customer to deal with the least technically qualified person to help them. The best tech support agents are intuitive problem solvers. They understand computers and have an intuitive sense of how most applications work. They have a good idea of the sort of things that commonly go wrong and how to fix them. It’s those types of agents that can best serve your customers.
Technical skills are only part of what is needed to solve problems. Tech support agents must be good problem solvers and good communicators. It’s not enough to find people who intuitively understand technology; you need to be sure they’re capable of explaining it to those who don’t. Technical ability means nothing if the agent struggles to explain solutions to non-tech savvy customers. And poor communication can prevent agents from understanding the customer’s problem in the first place. You can train tech-capable agents to solve particular problems but it’s very hard, if not impossible, to get a big improvement in most people’s communication skills.
CERTIFICATIONS DON’T PREDICT SUCCESS
It’s tempting to rely on certifications such as CompTIA / A+ or Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) to evaluate technical ability, but such qualifications are typically poor predictors of success. Most certifications are either too vendor-centric, basic, or general to be relevant in evaluating Technical Support Representatives. Certifications tell you nothing about whether or not an agent is a good communicator, problem solver, or capable or representing your company well. If you’ve done appropriate QA, then most of the technical problems customers bring are relatively minor. The real accomplishment is to solve the problem efficiently while “holding the customer’s hand.” This requires a very distinct type of person, not just anybody who went to a certificate program and passed.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Customers demand the same level of service no matter who answers the phone. It’s not enough to have one well-trained agent and a backup. Sooner or later the backup agent is going to have to take a call. And if the backup isn’t up to the task, whether due to lack of training or lack of skill, then it can be damaging to the credibility of the support team as a whole. Don’t force your customers to play support agent roulette. “I’m just filling in for so-and-so” is not an acceptable excuse for poor service.
We believe that Hudson employees are significantly different from tech support agents hired elsewhere. We designed our hiring and screening process to weed out technical types who like solving interesting technical problems, but who don’t communicate well, or don’t really like talking to people. Contact us to learn more.