21/10/21

Technical call centre: more than just the help desk

Marc Sanderson

An effective technical call centre (and its multi-channel sibling, the technical contact centre) can transform customer engagement for technology manufacturers, distributors and integrators. But delivering those outcomes requires a commitment to expand the scope of the function beyond the traditional helpdesk.

Of course, the call centre has been an absolute mainstay of customer service management for decades.

From a literal single-desk help desk through to operations which occupy entire buildings, a huge proportion of customer engagement now flows through some kind of contact centre.

technical call centre

The attraction is easy to see for the high-volume businesses which developed the first call centres. Centralising and standardising the handling of relatively simple and repeatable customer service processes has huge impacts, not least on control and cost.

However, as other types of businesses with more complex service or product offerings looked to capture these same advantages, new challenges emerged.

Fortunately, as technology manufacturers, distributors and integrators have increasingly demonstrated, not all call centres are created equal.

The rise of the technical call centre

The traditional call centre was designed to deliver process-driven, low value-add services such as financial transactions, account management or volume telesales for banking, insurance or utility companies.

While the quality of the agent handling the call undoubtedly has an impact on service quality, training and wages are often low, and turnover high. Turnaround time and cost-per-contact are typical of the key metrics, and any customer complications which might undermine these metrics are generally logged and escalated elsewhere for resolution.

Many of these characteristics are clearly not appropriate or desirable for more complex and sophisticated technology products and services. The response has been the rise of the technical call centre (or, increasingly, technical contact centres, offering multi-channel rather than call-only engagement).

This specialist facility combines the infrastructure and efficiency of a traditional call centre with a radically different skill set. Because the emphasis of the technical contact centre is on problem resolution, an in-depth technical knowledge and understanding becomes essential, alongside excellent troubleshooting and communication skills.

Beyond the help desk

The most familiar technical contact centre function is of course the help desk.

Help desk is typically an inbound operation, with customers calling for technical support on technology products. The focus of a help desk operation is to solve user problems as quickly as possible, typically meeting their immediate need for either information (user error) or technical services such as return or repair (product fault).

The help desk is essentially a tactical and reactive operation, but of course that doesn’t make it any less sophisticated or demanding to deliver.

A specialist technology help desk will typically be divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2 responses, with call agents handling first contact, logging and routine enquiries and escalating to highly skilled Tier 2 technicians and engineers for high-end technical support, bug fixing and advanced problem resolution.

But a help desk is only one part – albeit a vital one – of the wider service desk function that an effective technical contact centre can provide.

A complete service desk function provides a single point of contact to manage the complete customer communication process, playing a critical day-to-day role in meeting end-user needs.

Crucially, this widens the scope beyond tactical one-way functions (whether inbound or outbound) to a range of more complex two-way engagements. So as well as managing incident reports and service requests, the service desk becomes the point of ongoing contact between customers, products, sales, technical staff and other support functions. At this point the technical contact centre becoes capable of co-ordinating often complex and multi-stage interactions including:

  1. Pre-sales activity, such as taking technical questions and providing specifications or other critical buyer information.
  2. Sales processes, including taking orders and making sales appointments.
  3. Order implementation, from making appointments for site visits and product installation to arranging training or handling new user enquiries.
  4. Warranty support, such as help desk support, warranty checks, or arranging swap out or repair responses.
  5. Preventative maintenance, including reminders, bookings and enquires.
  6. Non-warranty technical service & support, including help desk support, and repair or replacement services.
Building the technical call centre

By embracing this wider perspective, the technology sector has transformed the call centre into the modern technical call centre, capable of efficiently and effectively supporting their complete end-to-end customer journey.

Rather than the traditional cost per contact and response time metrics, this broader model opens a much wider range of benefits including accessibility and availability, consistency, resolution times, customer focus, and customer insight.

But this modern technical call centre is a highly specialised operation. To achieve its full potential requires a dedicated infrastructure, software and culture not typically found in technology manufacturing, integration or distribution businesses.

It also places great emphasis on the skills and qualities of the frontline team, calling for a blend of engineering, technical, communication and problem-solving skills which needs to be recruited for and then nurtured over time.

For all these reasons, contact centre, help desk and service desk functions are among the most commonly outsourced of the technical services functions.

Operationally, the outsourcing of customer contact and calls handling gives a business instant access to all of these resources.

Importantly, these outsourced resources are also likely to be highly scalable, allowing the business to respond to peaks and troughs in demand, to manage peak or holiday season arrangements, and to handle one-off technical projects or ad hoc promotional campaigns.

The Qcom technical call centre

By outsourcing with Qcom, technology companies can tailor their customer contact management to suit the budget and service outcomes which matter to them.

Qcom is more than just a contact management company – we are a full-service technical services and support specialist. By linking a state-of-the-art contact management service to other technical services, we can provide a one-stop-shop service to elevate your customer experience to an entirely new level.

So, for example, a technical help desk can be integrated with our award-winning field support service, warranty management, product returns and swap out, workshop repair, installation and more.  The result can be a complete technical services and support package which can be scaled up and down as your business grows, or manage the peaks and troughs of everyday demand.

If you are not satisfied with your current customer contact management, our specialists can help you review its effectiveness and efficiency and provide proposals for a new Qcom solution. Call us today on +44(0)1905 827650, email outsourcing@qcom.co.uk or visit www.qcom.co.uk for more information.

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