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Outsourcing Efficiencies And The Cultural Impact

By Julian Ratcliffe, Sales Coordinator, Marval Software

As I write this blog on the outskirts of Kettering, many of our customers and prospective customers are attending the SDI Conference in Birmingham; where the empowerment of service desk professionals and the journey towards service improvement and a better customer experience is on the agenda.

In my daily role, I speak to many organisations who have taken the opportunity to outsource their IT Service Desk functionality either in the UK or overseas. When I ask why the decision was taken to outsource, the standard reply of “it’s cheaper” flashes back.  

I’m sure that, in the short term, finance departments are loving the savings being made. I’m also sure that the providers deliver a decent level of service, have the necessary accreditations, plus various KPIs and SLAs in place to ensure that their primary customer (aka the organisation) is happy.  Even IT are happy, since no Service Desk means having one less thing to manage. But what of the customers? What’s their experience like? What’s their view of the organisation? Do they feel valued and appreciated?

As a customer, you can tell when you are dealing with a 3rd party organisation. The experience is like white washed walls. It’s bland, dull and lacks personality. The Service Desk agents can’t give their all to you, because there is no cultural link with the organisation they represent or with the customer, who is just a number.

Whilst you can transpose processes and procedures from a company to an outsourced service provider, you cannot transpose a culture. Each company has a unique culture made up of unique individuals who leave their mark on an organisation. It’s created by its people living and breathing it daily, from interacting with each other as well as their customers. This culture is instigated and reinforced every second, through the big and -mainly- the small things that happen at work. To absorb an organisation’s culture, you have to be in that organisation. You have to breathe it. You have to both love and hate it. An organisation’s culture can be described and “taught” to outsiders, but not absorbed and applied by a 3rd party. 

In all customer service operations, things can go wrong; and they usually do from time to time. So what! As a customer, you have to expect it sometimes. The true level of a great customer service experience is when an organisation creates the space that, when things go wrong, they fix the issue not because it’s their job but because their culture is based upon creating a strong impact of service.  Culture does this.  It’s a living organism and businesses should understand that people, their most important and irreplaceable asset, are the ones that make the difference which, in long-term, will impact revenues too.

As organisations are more and more dependent on IT, the argument for outsourcing and losing control of your Service Desk and - dare I say - your customers appears less attractive.


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