Why skilled support staff is better than outsourcing

A lot of places are outsourcing support, these days, or so I keep hearing (and from time to time having evidence of).

And I just recently had a support experience where the software to support my on-line real-time chat was outsourced, even though the actual support person was not. But as it happens, the experience was problematic in other ways, that I won't bother going into -- another person at the company was able to clear things up quite nicely. My point of telling you all this, though, is just to point out why I came to the following conlusion:

Skilled support staff is better than non-skilled support staff

This probably especially applies to outsourced support staff, as I imagine they're most likely to be following a script, rather than actually understanding the problem(s) that customers are facing.

And here's the reason:

Someone who actually has a chance of understanding the customer in detail, is going to be achieving "habit 5" from the seven habits of highly effective people[1] -- and most importantly, in my mind, not even just the understanding part of it, but that the customer feels understood. Because feeling understood opens you up to then having a good interaction with someone, instead of just battling to try to get your point understood. (Granted, the customer can try to apply habit 5, but in my experience, it's really really hard to do with someone who's trying to read from a script.)

So yeah, to my mind, having scripted support (outsourcing or no) is a recipe for frustrated customers... which of course means customers who are that much more likely to become former customers, and that much less likely to encourage others to become new customers.

So, hire the best in your support staff, and train them well -- on the tech side and on communications. It's better for the customer, and, in the long run, better for your organization, as well.

At least that's how I see it.

[1] Note: I'm linking to the wikipedia article, instead of a direct link to the book, because, while I think Covey's material is great, I'd really prefer that you didn't buy his book. He's an active member of the LDS Church, which presumably means he tithes to (or otherwise financially supports) that organization, and I have a strong desire to avoid helping them out in any way (which is the subject of another post -- I'll try to remember to update this post with a link to it, if/when I ever write it).

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