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#Outsourcing #L1 #Support




Published on: Aug17, 2018

Why companies outsource?

The trend to outsource various segments of an enterprise operations has been there for a good decade by now. The successful implementation of the outsourcing approach can deliver a number of substantial benefits for organizations which includes but not limitted to:


And oppositely, the failure to thoroughly plan and execute the outsourcing projects is directly associated with some sever risks for enterprises which could include: and others.

In the last 10 years the outsourcing approach has been heavily utilised in manufacturing, IT and Call Centres environments, and primarily driven by the same economical principle - acquiring needed resources at cheaper rates. In both IT and Call Centers industries it has became possible due to the nature of those services - they can be provisioned remotely. And that key factor enables acquiring needed resources from a different geographical regions with cheaper labor rates.

In the Call Centers industry it often applies in a way of switching the operations from more expensive big cities to a regional facilities where the labor is commonly cheaper (i.e. it’s cheaper to hire 50 Customer Support representatives in Oklahoma rather than getting those resources in New York). In addition, such operations can be outsourced not only to a facility located in a different city, but in a different country as well (i.e. it will be way cheaper to hire 50 English speaking Customer Support representatives in the Philippines rather than getting those resources in New York or in any other US city).

Same principle can apply in IT (development, system administration, QA, design etc) with addition that the cheaper labor could be not the only factor to outsource work in IT - at times it can as well be the lack of needed specialists in the geographical location of an organization which forces companies to look for required talents outside.

In general, outsourcing is a very valid approach which can allow companies to significantly increase their operational efficiency, however, there are many aspects which must be taken into consideration while preparing for outsourcing projects in order to avoid of potential disasters.


In Rokitech we’ve been providing the outsourcing services since day one, and in this article we’d love to share some experience we have collected so far. The cases given below specifically address the model which has been actively trending now - it’s the model when for provision of outsourced services used cross-located home based resources (virtual teams).


Recently placing various specialists at home has been actively evaluated by largest companies around the world including Apple, Amazon, Dell and others in attempt to further reduce running costs while delivering additional benefits for employees such as work from convenient locations.


Considerations

When talking about home based resources it’s important to distinguish the difference between the a) company’s employees working from home and b) freelance specialists. Here are some historical observations which help to draw a better line between these two groups.

Freelance specialist usually:
The remote employees are mainly same full-time employees of the Company and operate in accordance with all regulations and standards of the enterprise:
In the examples given in this article only remote employees were used to form our virtual support teams.


Description of created services

Function #1

Type:Non-voice
Description:Level 1 support responding to customers requests by emails, livechat, CRM tickets and instant messaging functionality.
Business hours:24x7
Number of agents:8 (dedicated to this service only)
Number of supervisors:2 (simultaneously managing 2 support functions).
Language requirements:English
Quality requirements: - Once received, all requests must be responded as per the appropriate scenario from the Knowledge Base within 15 mins.
- In case of no applicable scenario, such requests to be immediately escalated to the Customer’s Level 2 support team.


Function #2

Type: Hybrid (voice + non-voice)
Description:Level 1 support answering incoming calls via cloud PBX system and responding to customers requests by emails, livechat, CRM tickets
and instant messaging functionality.
Business hours:09:00 - 18:00 Mon-Fri, Pacific Time Zone
Number of agents:5 (dedicated to this service only)
Number of supervisors:2 (simultaneously managing 2 support functions).
Language requirements:English
Quality requirements: - Once received, all requests must be responded as per the appropriate scenario from the Knowledge Base within 15 mins.
- All calls must be picked up and immediately responded as per the appropriate scenario from the Knowledge Base.
- In case of no applicable scenario, such calls/requests to be immediately escalated/rerouted to the Customer’s Level 2 support team.


Both services were intended to follow the ITIL lifecycle approach for IT service management, and in both cases it took 35-40 mandays of work by our team in cooperation with customers’ teams to develop the strategy, design the services, acquire needed resources, complete training/rehearsals and transition the services to operations.

Taking into account language requirement vs. budget constraints of our customers and to make the outsourced functions more cost-effective, it was decided to employ people mainly from:

Additionally all selected members had to undergo a special 7-days bootcamp to improve their speaking proficiency.


Performance review

Once the services transitioned into operations, it took 2 to 3 weeks in both cases during the initial period to adjust the developed processes and to fully align the services with operational needs of clients through the continual improvement approach. The collection of the presented data started after the initial adjustments period had finished.Once the services transitioned into operations, it took 3 to 4 weeks in both cases during the initial period to adjust the developed processes and to fully align the services with operational needs of clients through the continual improvement approach. The collection of the presented data started after the initial adjustments period had finished.




As demonstrated by the control chart, the non-voice service was successfully operating within the control limits, and fully satisfied the customer.




While for the hybrid service the graph was not looking too great and clearly displays some “out of control” occurrences.




Further root cause analysis concluded that the “out of control” situations were within the voice part of the hybrid service and caused by a temporary loss of connection between the VoIP PBX and a phone clients of home-based agents. Those issues repeated a number of times for different agents, occurred on both software and hardware phones, and were link to unreliability of internet connection and network devices used at those locations.

Additionally, frequent background noises (cars/pets/random people) affecting calls quality were regularly detected by the Quality Control while listening to live conversations and call recordings.


Conclusion

Using virtual home-based teams for provisioning L1/T1 non-voice support services is a valid approach which helps companies reducing operational costs while maintaining high standards of operations.

While using home-based resources for voice operations certainly introduces more challenges related to technical aspects of the service provision (mainly associated with connection reliability and agents’ working environment noise levels). Companies should take these factors into account while planning their outsourcing strategy.

On a side note, It is still possible to minimise those risks and get such services within the control limits by applying additional mitigation tools and techniques such as:


Those measure will surely introduce additional costs, but most probably there will be still plenty of room to make your outsourced team more cost effective in comparison to in-house teams.




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