Technical services and aftermarket support capability has become a key competitive battleground for the world’s technology manufacturers. As a result, whether to deliver them with in-house resources or through an outsourced technical service and support contract has become a key strategic decision.
As the criticality of technology solutions and equipment has increased in all walks of life, so customers have come to demand guaranteed capability and performance. It is no longer enough to deliver an exceptional customer experience during the sales processes – it is now expected throughout the entire customer relationship lifecycle.
The most adaptive and agile technology manufacturers have responded to these challenges by pushing technical service and support capability to the top of the boardroom agenda. Competitors have inevitably been forced to follow suit, moving service and support excellence from a nice-to-have to a must-have.
Having established technical services as a strategic priority, manufacturers understand (or quickly discover) that support is a specialist function with its own unique set of requirements and difficulties.
First, the infrastructure and resources required to deliver effective service and support are very different from those required by the manufacturing process. Service facilities are typically distributed rather than centralised, for example, with regionally based field engineers and forward stock locations.
Engineering excellence wouldn’t on the face of it seem to be a problem for technology manufacturers. But for most companies the real challenge is in making good engineers available for technical support, rather than for product development or other core activity.
In addition, while technical excellence might be a core competency of technology manufacturers, service often isn’t. Service excellence demands a distinct blend of culture, systems and skills which can cover everything from call handling software to an unswerving commitment to ‘going the extra mile’ in the resolution of every call.
And last but by no means least, there is the challenge of balancing effectiveness against efficiency This is inevitable whenever an organisation is trying to meet highly variable demand (as service and support often is) with a fixed cost function.
Given these challenges, it is perhaps no surprise that many if not most technology manufacturers will at some point review the option of outsourcing technical service and support.
When weighing the balance between in-house and outsourced technical service and support, there are two primary factors to assess: the cost benefit analysis; and the strategic / operational advantages and disadvantages.
A cost analysis will help you determine whether it makes financial sense to keep a process in-house or turn it over to an outsource service provider. At this stage it is vital to remember that an accurate cost analysis is not simply a matter of comparing the current annual cost of running your service to different quotes from outsource providers. You can find a useful checklist to help you make this calculation in our free guide, In or Out? Calculating the cost benefit of in-house vs outsourced technical service provision.
But it is also vital to understand that a cost analysis is far from the complete picture. Even if outsourcing technical services and support wouldn’t reduce your costs (or perhaps even if it might cost you more) it could still be the right thing to do for any number of strategic and operational reasons. Of course the reverse could also be true, with a decision that reduces costs not always be the right on to make.
These strategic and operational factors can include skills, infrastructure, coverage, flexibility and service quality – all of which are fundamental to the delivery of effective technical service and support.
A. In-house technical service & support delivery
The benefits and disadvantages of in-house technical services and support provision are perhaps the most obvious. This is after all the default position for most companies.
B. Outsourced technical service & support delivery
The benefits of outsourced technical service encompass a range of quality, cost and operational efficiencies.
You can read more about all of these key decision-making factors in our free download, In-house vs Outsourced: Achieving Technical Service & Support Excellence.
Ultimately of course there is no single correct answer.
Each technology manufacturer will have its own unique situations and requirements. These will be based on commercial and product strategies, resources, existing infrastructure, product lifecycle stage and dozens more variables.
Our free e-guide In-house vs Outsourced: Achieving Technical Service & Support Excellence for Your Business explores these issues in more detail.
Or simply get in touch today to discuss in complete confidence your technical service and support requirements.