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The days when technical help desk services involved a standard 8-hour day with mostly predictable support needs are long over. Many internal help desks are struggling to keep up with rapidly evolving demands — whether for 24/7 support or sharp spikes in calls tied to frequent upgrades, seasonality or super-charged marketing initiatives.

For some companies, outsourcing help desk services on a full-time basis isn’t an option.  Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

Many IT leaders are finding that a customized, third-party support model offers an ideal solution for filling in the gaps for around-the-clock support and scaling to meet surges in customer demand. When that support is provided by highly trained US-based IT professionals, help desk managers report that third-party services become like an extension of their internal IT team.

The custom third-party support model and business rationale are similar to other managed services in today’s hybrid IT environments, where forward-looking companies selectively outsource functions to experienced partners.

Here are three powerful ways that help desk managers are leveraging custom help desk services to solve common challenges:

 

1. Provide after-hours support without burning out internal teams:

Whether serving internal or external customers, today’s help desks face increased customer expectations and business requirements for always-available support. But for many companies, the after-hours and weekend volume is too low to justify adding full-time resources. This puts a strain on existing staff as they shoulder the burden by working on-call through the night handling mostly level-one needs: from the executive who needs a password reset at midnight to the truck stop cashier whose register stops working at 3 a.m.

Concerned about staff burnout and low retention, IT leaders and support managers are turning to third-party services to provide much-needed relief for their staff, freeing them up for more strategic work during the day.

2. Support deployment of new software and upgrades:

With the push for improved technology tools, companies are implementing new systems and upgrades with increasing frequency. Change-related issues and hiccups are inevitable, often driving a deluge of help requests that overwhelm internal support teams, causing long waits, frustrated users and lost productivity or sales. Fast access to quality support can make or break the success of a major investment in new software. With a trusted third-party support partner, companies are able to prepare and scale up easily to temporarily handle increased demand.

For example, even with a phased roll-out across their 200 stores, a retailer’s update to their point-of-sale system increased support demand to about 750 support requests a month – more than their internal help desk could handle. Since any delays would mean lost sales, they turned to TierPoint’s Nebraska-based team for support reinforcements to ensure all requests were handled quickly and accurately. As a result, the retailer was able to accommodate the higher support volumes and keep the cash registers ringing throughout the implementation.

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 3. Scale up for high busy season volume:

There’s a consensus among industry analysts that customer experience now ranks as a leading competitive differentiator. This means that maintaining responsive, high-quality customer service levels 365 days a year — including peak periods – is more critical to business success than ever.

Retail, dining, tourism, education, healthcare, and tax services are just a few of the many industries that experience dramatic seasonal shifts in business volume and support demand. Staffing for such extreme swings in demand can be expensive and challenging. To avoid devastating service delays and downtime during their most business-critical and profitable seasons, IT leaders turn to third-party support providers to scale up support in the most cost-efficient way.

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating third-party technical support providers:

  • Are the support professionals US-based or offshore?
  • Are both English and Spanish supported?
  • Does the provider offer flexibility in tailoring the support solution to accommodate special needs, with pay-for-what-you-need pricing?
  • What type of KPI reporting and status meetings are provided?
  • Do the support technicians have expertise in popular software applications and hardware?
  • In addition to desktop support, does the provider offer service management, escalation service, life-cycle management and custom support options?
  • Does the provider use industry best practices and tools? These should include:
    • IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices to improve business processes, reduce costs and increase efficiencies
    • IT service management software with API integration that works with any ticketing and reporting system to automate ticketing, status updates via email or text, web-based ticket views, reporting, monitoring, etc.

IT Executives that we work with regularly find that customized, third-party help desk services support can be like an extension of their in-house team.  Similar to other managed service models, team members become more available to tackle strategic, business-focused projects.  We’d love to chat with you about how our help desk services model might free up your resources and keep your clientele happy and returning.

 

As Director of Operations, Help Desk Services, Michelle is responsible for maintaining high performance and customer satisfaction levels at TierPoint’s contact center based in Omaha, Nebraska. With over 10 years experience in help desk management and operations, she leads a team of expert support technicians to align processes, tools, and services with customer requirements.