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  Post #1 (permalink)   07-27-2009, 12:29 PM
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Do small companies ever outsource their customer service? Are there any live chat companies that can provide live assistance at a rate that someone with a very small business can afford?

I'm also wondering if automated customer service (i.e. a bot that responds to questions based on the keywords they contain) is a plus to a site, or if it gives the impression of cheapness.
 
 
 


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  Post #2 (permalink)   07-27-2009, 05:44 PM
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Are there companies providing live help? I'm sure there are, but do you really want to be with a company that is providing assistance to others? The downfall on this is that you can potentially have "staff" that do not understand your prices or plans and may not do as good of a sale as someone who is an employee. There is also the risk that they may upsell to a competitor etc.

With regards to a bot, a live chat agent that responds to keywords is about as good as google. Put a google search on your page instead. If I ask the question "how do I install an SSL" what is your keyword? SSL? It may dump responses on how to purchase it, or what you need for it. There are a number of knowledgebase programs out there that would be of better use to visitors. Also, if you use a system like Kayako or WHMCS, you can enable the realtime search of KB articles. So as a user types their question, the system is providing potential articles that can help. We have found this type of system to be of great value to users.

Still, many will come into chat to ask the question just so a human can point them to the right article. Automated can only go so far and be friendly to the visitor.
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  Post #3 (permalink)   07-27-2009, 06:09 PM
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I've seen the potential in the past to use a service as a babysitting service for an endeavour that needed more time that I would be able to give for a while. It would be unlikely to be cost effective but if it came down to a case of losing your customers and your business because you needed to be away for a while, then paying the cost may just be worth it.
 
 
 


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  Post #4 (permalink)   07-27-2009, 09:05 PM
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We use to outsource support to Touch Support. I have heard they have gone down hill since then though. There are plenty of outsource companies that will do reasonable prices. While Seeks Admin may have attract prices, I would not use them. I have first hand experience with them.

Personally, I'm fair game for outsource with American support or local support in your country or customer country. As a small provider, your unable to be there all the time. I would prefer to have a live chat representative be available to direct the customer to the help desk, then have a customer leave because they could not find a solution to adding an e-mail.

Most good support companies, will have a NDA in their terms of service. The reason why I say stick with in your country is because NDA's do no good if your in the U.S. and techs are in India.

Another way that some companies do support and I will not list their names, is they will hire a person on a contract basis. Instead of hiring an outsourced company, they will outsource an individual for $50.00 - 100.00/week for a 9:00 am - 5:00 pm shift. They will be responsible for answering tickets of live chat; however, they are also able to work on other projects too.
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  Post #5 (permalink)   07-28-2009, 12:16 AM
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I just dealt with a company that outsources. I had 72$ deducted from my bank account so I had to call the company which took the cash but the # didnt work. So I googled it and found another company. I called them 2 times and both times talked to someone with a strong indian accent and I could not understand either of them.

I perfer talking to staff that know english and speak good english. Easier time in handling the problem.
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  Post #6 (permalink)   07-28-2009, 05:48 AM
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I don't think outsourcing support is a good way of running a business. It might be a bit expensive to hire support sometimes, but it's always the best to pay $3,000 a month to a person who is sitting before you and doing the work 9-5. I have seen people setup auto emails (time stamped) and go off to sleep. Whenever you email them you get a default reply which changes slightly everyday.
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  Post #7 (permalink)   07-28-2009, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limespace View Post
I don't think outsourcing support is a good way of running a business. It might be a bit expensive to hire support sometimes, but it's always the best to pay $3,000 a month to a person who is sitting before you and doing the work 9-5. I have seen people setup auto emails (time stamped) and go off to sleep. Whenever you email them you get a default reply which changes slightly everyday.
While outsourcing is not the best way, some companies (small ones) only have that option. It's difficult to compete these days without having 24 hour support. Even though I know many DC who only run with 1 tech at night time.

raomes, I would never outsource billing or sales. Those are two areas I just don't think of outsourcing.
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  Post #8 (permalink)   07-28-2009, 08:58 PM
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Even if it was for tech, I would never outsource. Americans need jobs so why take it away from them becuase you can save a few $ a month? In my book, not kool.
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  Post #9 (permalink)   07-29-2009, 08:35 AM
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Level 1 support could be outsourced, and as long as a proper path to level 2 and 3 is available, it should work just fine (IMHO). Outsourcing can also be a temporary solution while growth is too fast in a tight labor market. Not really the case these days, I know.

Quote:
Americans need jobs so why take it away from them becuase you can save a few $ a month? In my book, not kool.
Because everybody's cost conscious these days, and any higher cost that you have, puts you at a competitive disadvantage. Now, sure, "all US based staff" could bring you some customers who share your mind set, believe that native English speakers are important etc. could win you some sales, but will it be enough to counter balance things. Depends on how effective your marketing is I guess.

Quote:
I'm also wondering if automated customer service (i.e. a bot that responds to questions based on the keywords they contain) is a plus to a site, or if it gives the impression of cheapness.
I'd prefer a troubleshooting process or a knowledgebase with a search feature, than a bot attempting to be human, but that may be just me. In any case, it couldn't be a real alternative to 24/7 support.
 
 
 


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  Post #10 (permalink)   07-29-2009, 09:17 AM
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Obviously there are pros and cons. Having someone 24-7 is always a plus, but when your customer is unable to hear what your outsource is saying, then there's a problem.
 
 
 


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  Post #11 (permalink)   07-30-2009, 07:58 AM
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I used to outsource my support to indian based companies previously. They are ok if you just want to get a response back to your customers within XX hours. However, I used to have to micro-manage them. Like review their replies and reply on top of their replies to customers just to clarify and check whether the issues were fixed.

And for Live-Chat, I would keep away from using this. Their replies are usually very slow and your potential/customers will get frustrated and gave me more problems than benefits...
 
 
 


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  Post #12 (permalink)   07-30-2009, 04:40 PM
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People who work as an outsorce tech in india know english. But, when it comes to speaking it, or reading it is either hard to understand or slow to respond. They need to spend a lot of time reading a sentence and trying to figure out what the client is saying. Then when they reply it comes out wrong sometimes as they are not familiar with our wording and phrasing.

Either way, outsourcing is cheap but remember that ol saying "You pay for what you get". Support is something you never want to go cheap on. Hire on 2 tech to handle two shifts and your ok. Three if you have the cash.
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  Post #13 (permalink)   08-09-2009, 10:20 AM
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It just comes down to who you hire.

Of course it's always better to have someone with physical access to the network etc but at the same time that person you hire might not be as good as the person that is out-sourced.

I have no problem with people that outsource provided the job gets done properly and quickly.
 
 
 


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  Post #14 (permalink)   10-18-2009, 05:51 PM
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I wouldn't outsource support of any business, including web hosting if I wasn't sure that the operators are well trained and prepared to cover the standards I would impose. this applies for support operations of any dot-com business. I don;t like the support companies that provide standardized customers support for hundreds of companies. It is just does not work.

Of course having your support outsourced in any specific country is something that works. Unfortunately most providers lie to their customers taht their support operations aren't outsourced. Some people who support customers for a hosting companies based in California (San Diego) told me they have been ordered from the company management to lie their are local...

The customer support operations are very important part of the web hosting business and I think that any web host should carefully consider all the options they have and to be prepared to reduce the profit, but to keep control over the quality of the support they provide. A good idea is to as k customers would they accept an outsources support if the quality do not change.
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  Post #15 (permalink)   10-26-2009, 05:37 AM
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If you can not take up any project due to un availability of resource but client is very much important to you then outsourcing of task can be the only solution.
 
 
 
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