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Outsourcers must focus on customer service

We all know the world is changing at an ever-faster pace and on many fronts, writes Neil Anderson, MD of outsourcer Qcom. While this rapidly shifting economic landscape is creating new business opportunities, it is also forcing companies to respond to new client expectations.

Whether this is fixing mobile technology on the move rather than returning it to the workshop, or providing a same-day response to servicing a printer, customer demands are growing.

All this is overlain by trends in globalisation and overseas innovation, as well as the emergence of Generation Y in the workplace and as consumers. The reality is that UK business strategies need to be both alert to sector trends, and adaptable to enable companies to survive.

What this requires is a company-wide focus on customer service; a vital part of any and all transactions.

For resellers and distributors, it is understood that customer after-sales packages add value, build customer loyalty, and directly affect the bottom line. The challenge of delivering good service for both parties, however, has been made more complex with the advent of mobile technology, the need to reduce down-time and demand for bespoke service packages.

Yet, it is really only possible to achieve good customer service if it has a seat in the boardroom and if corporate thinking is aligned (or re-aligned) around customer-centric activities. There needs to be far greater awareness, for example, that service engineers are important brand ambassadors. They can act as the eyes and ears of a company, capable by turns of spotting trouble brewing and (just as importantly) identifying new business opportunities.

Resellers and distributors also need to consider that around half of the modern service call is fixing the customer rather than the technology, educating the user on the best use of the systems they are operating.

In other words, product servicing is about people and every service call should be treated as a moment of truth which can either add value or seriously damage a product or company in an instant.

Where all or part of a service operation is transferred to an outsourced supplier, it's usually done either to allow the client to concentrate on their core business, or to allow them to complement the service they already offer customers in these areas.

Technical outsourcing expertise can help resellers and distributors enhance their profitability and it can support business development and expansion across the UK and Europe. But the relationship needs to be managed and where possible, companies should be looking for borderless collaboration with their outsourcing partner. Relationships with outsourcers should go way beyond placing them in a supplier box, or indeed just white labelling their services.

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