With the level of tech integration into almost every facet of the business, it is significant for organizations of different sizes to have a support team. Some of them focus on serving clients’ quotes and answering questions (customer support) while others focus on solving technical issues (technical support).
Client support and care department is a team that interacts with customers on an as-needed basis with the help of different chat channels (e.g., email, phone, apps, live chat, and social media platforms). Customer care services are there to offer tech help with products, while service teams aim to provide positive customer experience.
An IT support department, for instance, is more than the people who set up new applications or deal with computer-based issues. That is only the tip of the iceberg. The department has to provide pro support to all users who use internal computer systems. Except for setting up software, their duties may include troubleshooting problems and offering technical guidance.
A support team or department develops and maintains many internal systems necessary for perfect communication and work. This team continually creates plans to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the business. A support team has a huge influence on the company’s success and profitability, and that is why it is critical to answer the questions like, “What is support department?” and “Why are support teams important?”
How Does an IT Support Department Structure Look Like?
Support service or department is what makes any IT product alive and well-treated by the customer. Usually, an Information Technologies support team is a part of the IT department with an IT director at the head. The next level is often an Information Security team, followed by System Development, Delivery, and Support. We will focus on System Support Dept., which typically involves teams like:
- System Administration Team
- Network Administration Department
- Applications/Software Support
As you may guess from the IT support department definition, this element of a company structure is critical as it guarantees clear communication and prevents users from facing different problems (or solves them if they already exist). Experts offer several approaches to structuring a department for support.
Consistently Exceed Customer Expectations
The main thing is, to stand out among competitors, a business needs to meet and exceed customer expectations constantly.
For example, what is the standard response time in your industry and managed by the main competitors? Can you provide even quicker responses? What level of services is your target audience used to, and can you offer an even higher level of services to satisfy them with your business processes? When you consider such points, you build a definition of great services for your company and set a high plank than other companies will have to compete against.
Selecting Help Desk Software
Help desk software is the primary tool for successful customer management. A business needs to choose the help desk, considering many facts, including requirements, security, and business specifics.
If you don’t manage support services by yourself, it may be hard to identify the right functionality needed and evaluate the value of this software that, in reality, boost the productivity of the support team a lot. Therefore, it’s vital to select the help desk software in collaboration with customer support to hear their needs and feedback.
Here are the questions a business needs to answer when picking help desk software:
- What exact functionality the support team needs? How many support agents will use this software? What communication channels should it support? What reports would you like to generate?
- What are the preferred but not a must features? It’s important to differentiate essential functionality from “it would be nice to have” one. When evaluating different software, it’s better to settle on the tool that allows performing key functions perfectly than on the one with a lot of bonus features that only complicates support services.
- What software and application do you need the help desk to be integrated with? For example, do you need to connect your CRM or social media to it? And do you need API?
Although small improvements in usability and performance may look insignificant at first, the resulting power of using the right help desk software will impress with the boosted productivity and higher level of services provided by customer support.
Compile the Knowledge Base
Yes, developing a knowledge base instead of writing some short FAQs is time-consuming. However, thanks to this time and effort investment, you will get a great deal back. Thanks to the extensive knowledge base, customers will be able to find answers to most common questions, thus, reducing the load on your support services.
The knowledge base will also facilitate the consistency of the provided customer support so that all the support agents will always be on the same wavelength and respond to common customer questions even quicker. Besides, users will be pleased to know that you have a handy knowledge base that is available to customers any time any day.
Moreover, by implementing an internal knowledge base for your support team, you can save guidelines on how particular issues should be processed, and how some issues in the past were resolved. This will allow onboarding new support agents quicker and more productively without interrupting the performance of the existing support team.
Hire a Great Team
Before hiring support agents, it’s important to define the ideal personality and soft skills that will fit the customer support role. For such a job position, a business needs an empathetic, resourceful person with emotional intelligence and great communication skills. At the same time, such a candidate should be able to grasp information about your company, and the goods and services you provide, and the company’s culture quickly. Then, it’s essential to evaluate the candidate’s hard skills and whether they are tech-savvy enough to fit the position.
When hiring a customer support representative, a company needs to ensure that all the necessary and preferred skills are listed in the job description and evaluate those skills during the screening process and interview sessions.
Most Popular Approach to Structuring Support Departments
A two-tier system is the first option to consider. This one consists of quick fixes and more sophisticated cases. In such a scenario, all queries are fielded by tier-1 agents. These reps should be fast responders. These specialists must be ready to explain most of the things to the users and clients and solve small-to-medium size problems.
If there are more significant inquiries that imply extra research and greater attention, tier-2 reps should be involved. That is usually a smaller but more professional team with an in-depth knowledge of the product or service. This level of support department consists of:
- Product/Service specialists
- Tech support
- “Accounts payable”
The multi-level structure of this department is the most popular solution. It allows to process multiple calls quickly, without transfers.
What Are the IT Support Department Functions? How to Build This Team?
It is challenging to build an in-house support team or department. Without understanding the functions of it, you will not realize the importance of IT or any other support team. That is why we recommend having a look at the responsibilities first.
IT department is different from business-process departments. It consists of people who understand the ways specific technologies function and apply them correctly to enhance the performance.
Automation of the processes
Automating various business processes is one of the main functions of this department. It means realizing the methods and the necessary tech. Then, one should adapt workflows to integrate with the tasks of the rest of the personnel.
Maintenance of Information Technologies
This part is the most obvious one: a department must ensure the highest return on investment when it comes to implementing and using various systems and technologies. Support departments should keep on upgrading IT systems to keep the company up-to-date. This team must also assist with accommodating multiple needs that may change over time because of the tech progress.
Management of data
While there are data processing teams, they are often a part of support departments. Such a department should collect and evaluate the available information and interpret it to the rest of the staff.
Guarantee of security
It is not the last point, but one of the major functions for sure. IT support teams should take care of the system security and prevent the company from the information outflow.
To build an in-house support team, a company should invest plenty of money and time. Here are the basic steps to consider (if your business is at a stage of growth):
- Decide on the amount of equipment and tools required
- Think about the expertise that your IT support team should possess
- Decide whether the development of this department should be part of the long-term budget plan
- Estimate the budget and the potential return on investment
- Recruit the necessary amount of support representatives
No matter whether you are interested in building an IT or sales support department, you may consider the same steps to take. After calculating your expenses, you may come up with the conclusion that your business is not ready for these costs.
Organizations frequently find out that their budget makes it possible to hire only one person for the IT department. It does not allow reaching the mass necessary for justifying effective support. The technologies are complicated today. Also, clients and users hate to be on hold. Thus, we believe that there is a better option for your business!
How to Improve Technical Support Department: Outsourcing Solutions
So, tools, spare parts, network & management software, and manuals, along with training and mentorship, do not constitute the full list of the costs a business might face if you decide to hire an in-house support team. Most of the successful organizations have found a better way out!
Have you ever heard of the outsourcing department of support services? The greatest advantage of hiring an external department is that a business will obtain more bang for the buck. It gets several members at varying levels instead of just one.
As we have admitted above, when talking about the structure, the majority of IT support organizations have more than one level of support. It means that a business can hire any of them when choosing to outsource. After comparing the price of a support contract to recruiting tech department staff in-house, it becomes a no-brainer. Support departments’ outsourcing is cost-effective and time-saving! We’ll explain why:
- You don’t need to hire a payroll team
- You will not spend tones of money on new equipment, tools, and systems
- You will not have to train new staff
- You can choose the members of a technical support department according to your needs and current or long-term business goals
- You can select any comfortable time zone, language or set of languages, and location to support your clients.
Finally, it is a great opportunity to focus on core business activities, while others do secondary tasks. In any case, hiring remote support teams becomes more and more popular practice, and giants of various industries recommend doing so.
Reasons for Outsourcing Support Services Department: Conclusion
We believe that we have listed enough reasons to outsource an IT or business support department. That list is far from full! Most of the successful American companies choose outsourcing agencies from Eastern Europe to hire remote teams. It allows for cutting operational and labor costs significantly. Thus, it is time for your company to think about creating a remote support team for your department if you haven’t done it yet!