In the past, some companies considered the creation of a technical support department as an afterthought, at their peril. Often, this department would be staffed (or understaffed) with individuals without the knowledge, skill, or frankly, the will to be there. If not quickly remedied, this situation would drag the entire business down to the point of no return.
Brand reputation is extremely valuable, and if a brand becomes associated with non-existent or poor customer service and/or technical support, the consequences can be swift and non-recoverable.
This article delves into what is technical support and why is it key to maintaining reputation. It also explains the differences between technical and customer support, the organization of a technical support department, and some of the best countries to build your tech support team in.
The term is self-explanatory. Tech support is the provision of help for customers who might be experiencing difficulties with their products, or want to learn more about them.
In earlier decades, this communication would take place over a fixed phone line connecting the company's tech support department with the outside world. The customer would ring a number and speak to a tech support representative. In the pre-internet days, the rep would resort to a local help database and propose solutions, or even physically post a product's manual to the customer. But technology has now evolved to a point where tech support is a multi-channel experience. The internet holds much information about pretty much every product in existence, and the company might provide instant message support via chat apps, email, or social media, besides the actual helpdesk.
Tech support is closely related to customer support, but they're not quite the same thing. You can argue that the former is a branch of the latter. In other words, tech support is just one of the elements that, when combined, form the whole customer support experience.
But a further differentiation exists, revealed in its very name. The customer support department usually deals with sales, subscription issues, problems with delivery, returns, etc. Tech support staff helps with technical problems related to the product. Installation issues, updates, product features not working, etc.
One can also find differences in how both departments are organized. Customer support departments are shallower, meaning they have fewer layers. Usually, they consist of the frontline agent answering the phone, and an administrative manager in the backend. Tech support departments are far more complex.
Now, every company is unique, so tech support departments might be organized according to the product, the company's size and reach, and other factors.
But in general terms, tech support departments feature three layers or tiers
Some organizations might include an extra tier before Tier 1: pre-support or self-service, which might involve internet searches, knowledge bases, troubleshooting guides, and community support.
While there are many countries that could potentially offer a suitable environment to establish a Tech Support center staffed with qualified Support Engineers, some nations emerged as more prominent than others. This can be for many reasons. Cost-effectiveness, maybe, geographical location, readily available qualified staff, or less competition, to name but a few. Colombia, for example. The ICT industry there has been growing steadily for several years, with an estimated market value of $6.38bn. Internet access reaches 65.5% of the population, and outsourcing in Colombia is supported by a government that endorses international investment with initiatives like Free Trade Zones.
One of the most attractive aspects of the country's capital, Bogotá, is the availability of relevant staff. According to LinkedIn data, there currently are 17,000 people across Colombia listing their job title as 'Technical Support Engineer,' most of them in Bogotá.
Apart from such an abundant workforce, Bogotá offers other advantages. The city's time difference with the United States is minimal. Young professionals have a high proficiency in English, and Colombia is one of the countries that form CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa), a list of emerging nations identified as having a diverse and dynamic economy, and a young, growing population. Many international corporations, including industry giant IBM, have a strong outsourcing presence in Colombia.
Read more about hiring technical support team in Colombia.