Customer Support Sourcing: Do It Right for the Results You Need

Building strong relationships and competitive advantage through the support experience can be a powerful ingredient in earning and maintaining customer loyalty. But judging from the quality of support provided, many companies have not achieved this. Instead, the customer experience is at best mediocre and at worst leads to lost customers and negative "word of mouth" to potential new customers.

This outcome often results from outsourcing customer support to low-cost suppliers around the world and managing those suppliers as vendors of commodity services who are continually pressed for cost reduction.

Having the right focus on both customer experience and shareholder results requires a very different approach, built upon a sourcing strategy that recognizes the varying needs and value of individual customers. Successful implementation of the strategy requires building strong working relationships with the appropriate outsource suppliers who are aligned with the values and mindset of your own business.

This article explores these six essential steps for a sourcing strategy that contributes to enhanced customer relationships and satisfied shareholders:

  • Segment the customer base by value and expectations for support
  • Segment types of support provided by potential impact on competitive advantage
  • Determine the appropriate supplier profile and geographic location for type of support
  • Evaluate and select suppliers, both outsourced and "insourced"
  • Establish the right framework for managing supplier relationships
  • Manage the relationships as partnerships

Customers — The Alpha and the Omega

Support Types and the Impact on Customer Relationship

Figure 1

Defining the Right Supplier Profile

Supplier Evaluation and Selection

Establishing the Framework for Supplier Relationship Management

Managing the Relationship as "One Global Team"

Figure 2


About the Authors: Robert Berger

Bill Schneiderman

The Results Group