Outsourcing Etiquette & Ethics

chakky's picture

"As you sow so shall you reap"

All the grains that fell on fertile ground & were watered, bore great fruits, the ones that fell between rocks, grew until the ground could no longer nourish them. The ones that fell in sand, died without ever sprouting.

The same is the case of outsourcing support. Any outsourced support team that takes over a web host's support services, need the initial investment in time and effort of the client to make their concerns addressed properly and ironed out.

Most hosting companies have now moved to using the Global Delivery Model to make their companies more cost efficient and ready to face the new era of the global economy. By outsourcing their non-critcal works and focussing on their core business, the corporates, companies of today are moving towards a perfect system that gets the best of both worlds reducing their operative costs.

Using outsourcing on a global scale has helped companies get higher ROI (Return Over Investment) as they can run their companies 24/7. The advantages of such a move were:
a) Cost Cutting
b) Faster Turnaround time for Projects.
c) 24/7 Customer Support.

Projects are proposed, executed and completed in record times compared to the earlier era when people needed to travel to the destinations before the analysis even began. They then needed to setup the project environment, arrange the recruitment for the same and then start the implementation. Today the Onshore-Offshore business model means, software companies, with their various Quality Certifications has the necessary resources as well as people ready in most cases and they just need to sign the SLA & NDA to get the works started and running.

The Web Hosting Industry even then, today seems to face a major crisis, that of, not being able to stick on to one Support Company or one group of technical professionals.

Reasons vary, the primary reason being cheaper support.

But once most companies reach the same pricings, the reasons move on to one or more combination of these reasons :
a) The tech they were most familiar or who was the reason they signed up, left.
b) The techs they get are not ready to work the shifts they want continuously.
c) The tech needs to go on a leave of 5-6 days and a replacement is given which is not acceptable as then there is no longer any confidence in the replacement tech.
d) The tech performance varies in certain times. Sometimes they do well sometimes real bad.

What could cause these situations?

Well the truth is, outsourcing in its nascent stages, got the tag of being cheaper and same time of lesser quality. Hence prospective customers always think outsourcing is just for the cost savings involved.

What they do not realise is that, support plays a very important role in making your clients feel good which in turn means more people know it by word of mouth. If you do not closely understand the working of your support team and give them time and corrective actions initially, they would never perform exactly as you expect.

A few reasons are :

a) A reality in America is that the industries moved onto a system of 8 hours working with 5 day work weeks as they realised it's the most productive working styles. When it comes to outsourced support,6 day weeks are preferred or requested for even though the support costs,other related costs etc are one fifth what they would have paid for inhouse.

b) There is a mismatch of culture. Some customers in their attempt to focus only on their core competencies or cost saving attempts, they miss to see the sentimentalities of the techs who work for them. In countries like India, where children still live with parents, they have commitments to their families that they cannot completely avoid, traditions they need to follow and festivals they cannot miss just like Thanksgiving or Independence Day is in US. This makes their formative first two-four years a confused about their priorities.

c) Cost even though its cheap compared to the US cost of living, has to suffice enough for a company to ensure that the systems followed in the country they outsource to, can support the salaries that grow with their career and life. He does not see any scope to get a change from the work he does either technology wise or a good hike monetary wise or even a career growth because he is indispensable to the client.This makes the tech leave since his expenses and aspirations are not fixed like the support services. So as services prices decrease, the hike ranges a support company can give its people is limited and hence they would need to say their adieu.

d) Shift working, anywhere in the world is always a difficult job that only the best can adapt too.Though its coming of age today, with millions of jobs in shift systems and night life emerging, its no longer a profession only for nurses, doctors or security personnel.

e) Attitude towards the outsourced team matters. Every tech makes mistakes, and in those times your understanding is very important.They need to feel wanted/appreciated and if you help him improve, he would improve your systems and same time want to continue to remain working for you. If you take this approach, you get the true value from outsourcing which is much more than only a reduction in your operating costs!

f) His opinion needs to be considered. A tech sees many different systems, when he sees a flaw,he can hence suggest positive changes. When his suggestions are ignored and his attempts to suggest improvements are scowled upon, you kill the passion he has to work for you. Its like saying go to a doctor, never take the medicine he prescribes and you expect to get cured.

Getting the best out of our Outsourced Support.

The primary thing that any hosting company needs to realise is that, technical support and customer service are the two most important things after a client signs up for a hosting plan. If you decide to simply outsource and do not invest the time and effort to spend atleast the first one month, ironing out the mistakes or at least coach the people who work for you, you are not ensuring that the outsourced team works in line with your business strategy but instead they just do their day to day works and won't perform exceptionally.

I have seen techs who show real dedication to clients, who understand and forgive the small harmless mistakes they make while learning new things, who thank them for the good works they do and appreciate their efforts to improve systems. A small thing like a cake delivered on Christmas seems to work wonders on their morale.

An employee whether inhouse or outsourced, require care, attention and timely appreciation to perform to their best abilities and this in turn spurs your business growth.

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