IT Service Desk Outsourcing | Is it Time to Outsource?

Feb 9, 2023 | Service Desk


Business end users are benefiting from increased availability and diversity of applications and devices, driving increased expectations for technical support wherever and whenever they need it. Many businesses’ customer service needs are being met by global help desk services, which are provided by outsourced help desk providers.

Businesses facing cost pressures are increasingly turning to help desk outsourcing as a lower-cost support option. However, some organisations are now reconsidering this trend and bringing technical support and service desk functions back in-house. The dissatisfaction with outsourced help desk providers stems from offshore arrangements that prioritise cost savings over customer satisfaction. While offshore locations provide well-trained agents, customer perception and satisfaction suffer when they feel disconnected from the support team. As the service desk serves as the primary interface between clients and IT services, negative experiences can impact the overall perception of the IT department. To ensure success, businesses should prioritise customer satisfaction alongside cost savings when deciding on technical support outsourcing.

Reasons for Offshore Service Desk Dissatisfaction: Gartner’s Findings

Client knowledge

When a Service Desk is in-house, whether or not it is run and managed by the host company’s employees or an external supplier, these people have access to internal communications which enable them to clearly understand the business and, therefore support end users more knowledgably. When the Service Desk is offshore, a good service provider may try to capture the information into a knowledge database, but the information is not always kept up to date or easily understood.

High turnover

A Gartner survey for all IT services showed that the worldwide attrition rate was 14.7 percent and offshore it was 22.1 percent. Although this can be a problem anywhere in the world, it can be extremely prevalent in low labour-cost countries where many IT job opportunities exist and many IT Service Desk agents will switch jobs for a small salary increase.

Cultural differences

If a client has a problem, he or she will relate the problem over the phone, but because of cultural differences, the Service Desk agent may not interpret the problem and react in the most appropriate manner. For example, a client employee may have a problem on a PC and want to know how to fix it. Instead of explaining how to fix the problem, the offshore agent may take control of the employee’s PC and change the image without explaining how this was accomplished because the agent doesn’t want to insult the client. However, the client employee may be dissatisfied because he or she doesn’t learn what was wrong or how to fix the problem resulting in a need to call the help desk again in the future.

Language dialects

Offshore-based help desk providers, despite training their agents in English and using formal language, often struggle with cultural and dialect differences, leading to client frustration and dissatisfaction. However, not all offshore facilities should be dismissed, as certain locations like South Africa have garnered positive reviews due to their cultural alignment, language proficiency, and competitive labor costs, making them suitable for outsourced help desk services. The decision to bring the service desk back in-house can also stem from suppliers’ focus on hardware or software solutions rather than service-oriented approaches, resulting in negative publicity and undermining the value of the IT services organization. Two examples illustrate this issue: in one case, an incumbent supplier lacked a customer service perspective, causing complaints and questioning the IT organization’s worth; in another instance, an IT provider failed to comprehend the importance of service in the service desk, ultimately leading to the loss of a significant outsourcing deal. The common thread in both situations was the outsourcers’ DNA being rooted in technical expertise rather than service delivery. This mismatch hindered effective problem resolution and compromised the quality of outsourced IT support and help desk services.

Outsourcing your Service Desk is still a viable option

Albeit there have been some poor experiences over the last decade, outsourcing services is still a viable option. Service Desk and Technical Support outsourcing is an efficient way to streamline costs and increase customer satisfaction – which can ultimately help increase the profitability of your company.

What are the Benefits of IT Service Desk Outsourcing?

Better Financial Leverage

  • That is because it can lower fixed costs and at the same time bolster return on investment through service desk outsourcing, help desk outsourcing services, outsourced help desk, and desk support.
  • A known fixed cost.
  • Improved NIPE (Net Income Per Employee).
  • No Training costs – your company would not have to spend money on training its staff to learn and master the use of new software or even hire more professionals to do so.
  • No recruitment costs, and the inherent management time involved in the recruitment process.
  • If the off-site facility includes service desk outsourcing, help desk outsourcing services, customer service, and support, savings on office space and consumables can be made.

Improved Customer Experience

  • You will be able to create a better customer experience – this is the business of an outsourcer who’s DNA is in Service provision, help desk outsourcing, outsourced it support, and services.
  • Increased positive perception of the value of IT Services, help desk, support, and the people who run it.

A company can move its help desk outside for many reasons. Help desk outsourcing can be a customer service strategy in itself. On its own, it can help a business achieve specific and numerous targets or goals related to customer service, support, and services. But logically, the practice may also have its own set of setbacks.

For the ‘cons’, Service Desk outsourcing can possibly make a company lose its control over training, although it would stipulate what skills and competencies are required – it is up to the outsourcer to ensure its personnel have the required skills. The management may worry that the function may lose some nuances in terms of services. It would also have to turnover specific parts of its operations to an external vendor, which can raise issues in terms of privacy and trading secrets, but with the right contract in place this shouldn’t be an issue for support and help.

Some companies express their worry that Service Desk outsourcing personnel may possibly lack concern for the consumers/customers. This logically is a serious concern because most clients are sensitive over such matter. If Service Desk representatives of the outsourcing vendor are not professional and polite enough, it can surely reflect not on the outsourcing firm but on the company that pays for the service. The lack of concern for the customers can negatively impact the quality of services provided and the level of support offered by the outsourcing personnel.

Lastly, in a Service Desk outsourcing setup which is off-site, the company would have to get used to having remote personnel. The supplier can be operating in another country, providing services and support. As described above, there can be cultural differences that may show in the service. Businesses that prefer to keep its staff socially and culturally intact will also have inevitable issues with offshore outsourcing, particularly in terms of help.

In many cases, companies are blindsided by the disadvantages of outsourcing services, which should not turn businesses against Service Desk and Technical Support outsourcing. By recognising such setbacks, obstacles to effectively outsourcing Managed IT services can be properly managed as well as overcome. It is still very much a viable proposition for businesses in need of help.