Outsourcing Your Helpdesk: How To Do It Right

Outsourcing help desk support is a massive industry. According to Verified Market Research, the online help desk software market hit $8.9 million in 2020 and is projected to climb to almost $20 million by 2028.


No matter how advanced a company’s technology, customers will always need tech support. Bugs invade, networks fail, and even the best products occasionally break. And when that happens, you need a help desk.

The help desk is the team or department whose sole purpose is to help employees or customers solve their technical support issues. But finding the right partner – and ensuring you’re set up for success – can be a bit more challenging.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of IT Help Desk outsourcing and how to know when it’s right for your company.

Is Outsourcing Your Help Desk Right For Your Company?

Did you know that 66% of U.S. businesses outsource at least one department? So, why do companies outsource their IT help desk?

Often, the amount of support tickets coming in from customers is too much for an internal IT department to handle. Helping customers with IT support can also be a distraction from your company’s core focus, products, or services.

Outsourcing services provide a scalable solution without taxing your internal teams. Companies get the benefit of experts who are skilled in both IT support and customer experience (CX) management. With outsourced support teams, you can scale up and down without having to recruit, train, and pay salaries in-house.

So when should you consider outsourcing help desks or service desks, and when is it a bad idea? Let’s explore those two questions.

When Should You Consider IT Help Desk Outsourcing?

The top reason that drives most companies to outsource their help desk is that they’re getting more support tickets than their internal team can handle. But you may be noticing several tell-tale signs that it might be time to consider outsourcing your IT help desk.

Are you experiencing:

  • A backlog of support tickets?
  • Increasing costs for IT support and agents?
  • Decreasing customer satisfaction around the functionality of products or services?
  • Seasonality in support requests that makes it challenging to scale support up or down?
  • Budgetary needs for growth in other areas?
  • A gap in training and resources in the IT department?
  • Lack of CX knowledge and expertise?

All of these can be signs that it’s time to hire an experienced help desk and CX partner. Maybe it’s a drop in customer satisfaction (CSAT) or a squeeze on your IT team. Maybe it’s simply that your company doesn’t want to keep investing internal resources in customer support tickets.

Whatever it is, an outsourced CX solution may be the way to go.

When Is Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk a Bad Idea?

On the other hand, outsourcing may not always solve your problems – and outsourcing any department brings inherent risk.

After all, it’s hard to trust that anyone else cares as much about your customers as you do. How can you be sure your CX partner will approach customers with the same expectations of excellence as you do?

Here are some red flags when it comes to IT help desk outsourcing and when to know if it’s going to hurt more than help.

  • The outsourcing partner doesn’t show a strong grasp of your company culture, values, and brand voice.
  • The outsourcing partner doesn’t seem to have in-depth IT experience or a track record in your particular industry.
  • The outsourcing solution doesn’t have flexibility or can’t customize its services in the way that you need.
  • You don’t see strong CSAT results from the outsourcing company or don’t feel confident that their agents have a high EQ and standard of excellence.
  • The outsourcing partner has an offshore team that isn’t successfully resonating with your customer base.
  • The outsourcing partner doesn’t offer high transparency or insight into decision-making. You feel you may lose too much control over your technology.

Any of these – and many more – concerns should be strongly considered as you look for a help desk solution. These risks can further decrease your CSAT and hurt your brand reputation in the long run.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Help Desk?

So, if you’re starting to think about outsourcing help desk support, what kinds of benefits can you expect? Let’s assume that you’ve found a partner who passes the test, represents your brand well, provides excellent service, and more. In short, a partner who doesn’t exhibit any of the red flags we discussed in the section above.

Here are some of the primary ways that outsourcing help desk support can add value to your brand, your bottom line, and your company’s growth.

Reduced Costs

You might think that doing IT support in-house would allow you to control costs better, and sometimes that’s true. But often, outsourcing is a far more affordable – and predictable – strategy.

Think about the costs associated with running an IT support department:

  • Staff recruitment and training
  • Salaries and benefits – the largest expense for any company
  • Equipment and technology
  • Leasing office space
  • Developing a knowledge base
  • Etc.

Outsourcing partners cover all of those costs for you and offer their services at a flat or customizable fee. Often, help desk outsourcing companies have cost-saving strategies in place, like offshoring or nearshoring. They can hire, train, and manage staff at a smaller cost and help you with scaling up or down as needed.

Improved Availability & Scalability

Outsourcing customer service in any department can increase your hours of availability and make scaling for seasonality that much easier.

With an outsourcing partner, you can ensure that you have agents available for customers at any hours you need, including 24/7 service. Your help desk will be focused solely on its role of serving customers, which proves to increase service levels and customer satisfaction.

Outsourcing also allows for nimble scaling when you have seasonal needs.

While most companies will pay for a set amount of service hours each month, an outsourced partner makes it easy to scale up with more agents if you experience a surge in customer requests.

All it takes is adjusting your service level agreement (SLA) to accommodate the new demand – rather than recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.

Improves Efficiency & Productivity

Having a dedicated outsourced team is proven to improve service levels, call resolution rates, and management processes. Because outsourced partners are focused exclusively on customer call resolution, they are far more efficient and productive than an in-house team that is pulled in several different directions.

Additionally, your employees can be far more productive when they are freed up to focus on your core business rather than deal with ticket management and customer support. Outsourcing something as nuanced as IT help desk support can relieve your internal teams of work that doesn’t serve your product or service focus.

Boosts Customer Satisfaction

Perhaps the most obvious value of an outsourced help desk is the potential boost of customer satisfaction. What are customers looking for when they call with a technical issue? Having their questions or issues resolved quickly and efficiently.

With an outsourced managed IT service, you can increase resolution time through proactive support and highly trained personnel. An experienced CX partner will feel like an extension of your own team but with more bandwidth and training than you could get internally on a similar budget.

The right outsourced partner should show that they can improve response times, speed to answer, first-call resolution, and overall CSAT.

Boost Employee Satisfaction

Whether you decide to outsource internal help desks or other support services, outsourcing your help desk has been shown to boost employee satisfaction.

In fact, an annual State of Service report from Hubspot shows that 91% of employees feel having a help desk improves their productivity.

Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, a help desk can support your employees in their own day-to-day work and increase their level of satisfaction with their productivity and goals.

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Gives a Competitive Edge

Lastly, an outsourced help desk gives companies an edge over their competition. That’s why some of the most successful global companies outsource their IT support. Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core business and rest easy that experts in IT customer experience are at work for you.

In today’s economy, customer experience is becoming the true differentiator across the most competitive companies. Consider these statistics from Zendesk:

  • 60% of customers say that quick inquiry resolution is a decisive factor in choosing what company to buy from.
  • 57% of customers say that customer service is a top factor in their loyalty to a brand. Customer service is more important to these customers than the product or service.
  • Around 50% of customers say they would switch to a competitor after just a single bad customer experience.
  • 80% of customers say they would switch to a competitor after more than one bad customer experience.

Clearly, deploying an effective customer support strategy is core to driving your competitive edge. Customers are won and lost over the support they receive.

How To Successfully Outsource Your Help Desk

Finding the right outsourcing partner requires clear goals and a detailed roadmap. Here are five of the key factors to successfully outsource and see the results you want from your help desk.

1. Set goals

First of all, know exactly what you want from your outsourced help desk. Do you need to boost customer satisfaction? Increase availability or ticket volume? Deploy better CX technology?

Only you can know exactly why you’re searching for an outsourcing partner. Get buy-in from your internal team to find out what they need and define the goals you need your help desk to achieve.

Clearly communicate these goals both internally and with potential help desk vendors. Make it clear that you will be evaluating the success of the partnership based on these goals.

2. Identify scope and budget

After goals are set, it’s time to outline the project scope. What levels or tiers of support do you want to outsource? Do you want your vendor to deal with only Tier 1 Help Desk or escalate internally?

You should also get a clear understanding of your ticket volumes, hours of operation, etc. Set up close tracking of critical help desk metrics like average speed to answer (ASA), first-call resolution (FCR), and call abandonment rate.

Communicate all of this scope – and your budget – with potential vendors and ensure they can deliver on your expectations.

3. Target a location strategy

Outsourced call centers or contact centers often have different strategies for staffing locations. You should be able to choose from the following:

  • Onshore: Contact center offices are located in the same country and even the same region as your HQ or CX operations. This is often the most expensive option, but it also is the easiest for communication, flexibility, and internal control.
  • Nearshore: Contact center offices are located in another country but near enough that you share a border and other alignments such as language and culture. Nearshoring allows for more affordable labor without losing some of the cultural, language, and educational alignments companies want for their customers.
  • Offshore: Offshore contact centers are usually the most affordable option, as companies can seek agents in countries where the cost of living is low. However, offshore options can increase the effort on your part, with different expectations around communication, language barriers, and costly travel across time zones.

You’ll want to hear out your vendors on what options they offer and consider which best suits your needs based on budget and your own company’s global footprint.

4. Look for industry experience

Look for a partner with a proven track record in your industry who understands what’s most important to you. Ask them for references from companies that do similar work to you. Ask them for results within your industry or a comparable company.

You should also evaluate if potential vendors can represent your brand voice. How important is brand alignment to them? Do they seem to grasp what’s important to you? Can they show you their training documents and knowledge base? Do those show a strong emphasis on brand focus?

5. Evaluate potential vendors’ CX outcomes

The baseline for a successful help desk is excellent customer experience management. Ask your potential vendors for their CX results with other companies. See what they’ve produced in terms of case studies, use cases, white papers, and more.

Ensure that your potential vendor has strong CX results compared to their competitors.

Finding The Right Partner

Finding the right managed help desk partner is all about defining your goals and getting a vendor who understands what you want for your customers.

They should have the following:

  • A strong understanding of your company culture, values, and brand voice and an ability to translate that into customer support.
  • In-depth IT experience with proven experience in your industry.
  • Customized options and flexibility for your changing needs or goals.
  • Strong CSAT results and agents who have strong people skills and IT expertise.
  • Whether you want onshore, nearshore, or offshore options, the agents should show strong results and understand your core brand, service, and product.
  • Transparency into their processes, outcomes, and decision-making. Easy and clear communication with your team.

You can learn more about how to build a roadmap to help desk success by reaching out today. At ROI CX Solutions, we are Help Desk partners for some of the world’s leading brands – with outcomes that drive customer loyalty and company growth.

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