So we had been discussing about the reasons to outsource the support and the necessary features for an outsourcing support.
Now the crucial question is how to determine or choose the right support?
Obviously there is no direct answer. Even with the best support companies issues can happen.Here I am trying to give you some indications which can be used to select an appropriate outsourcing partner for your needs.
Freelancer Vs Company
This is one of the most confusing question for a startup company who plans to outsource the support. There are a lot of free lancers and support companies are available in the Internet. Freelances are often cheaper than companies and it simply doesn’t mean that the support is sub standard. There are really good techs with years of experience under their belt, who works as freelancers. You can check for their availability in common website like upwork, fiverr, WHT etc. and check their reviews before proceeding with hiring them.
On the other side, outsourcing to a company is more expensive as they have to cover infrastructure and operational costs. But its advantage over a freelancer is that the company has more responsibility for the work than a freelancer. Its mainly due to the fear of a bad reputation or negative review about the company and its resonating effects through out its existence.
In the case of free lancer, if he has moved to another location or changed his contacts, its practically impossible to trace him and you will be totally clueless about the current status of the work assigned.
Now, how do you evaluate and judge the competency level of a freelance or a company under consideration?
Technical Forum or Blogs
Knowledge contribution is one of the key indicators of the caliber of a person or company. Active participation in various technical forums such as cPanel or WHT can be indicative about the level of knowledge and exposure of the particular person to the field. Same is the case with technical articles or blogs. You can subscribe to such blogs and evaluate contents so that you can have a fair idea about capability of the company/person in adapting to the latest trends and happenings in the industry.
Always check for social media activities and check for their reviews or references in various forums. I remember one incident where one of the web server vulnerability had been actively going on and a test conducted on the websites of the companies which offers patching for the vulnerability were found to vulnerable!!!
So always apply your logic and common sense to identify the veracity of claims given by the companies or individuals.
Active participation in Meet ups and Conferences
Trusting an online entity is always a daunting task. You don’t know anything about the person other than the web identity. Always try to attend technical meet ups and take the opportunity to meet the person or the representatives of the company in person.
Inter personal communications are much more effective in getting a fair picture about the level of technical competency or the work ethics one follows. This will help you to make decision about the direction of further proceedings.
A complete and professional website
A professional and complete website should testimony for the level of quality the company/person
follows. A well maintained and professionally managed website with active sales and marketing
strategies will indicate the work ethics and pattern of work the company follows. An incomplete and
broken website alone can turn down clients from proceeding further.
The most important thing one must be careful before proceeding with purchase is analyzing various reviews of the company. You should consider reviews from existing clients as well as staffs too. Staff reviews are available on common platforms such as glassdoor which indicates the level of workplace pressure and comfort level for the employees.
An unhappy employee won’t generate happy customers.
However absolute satisfaction for employees or clients is unachievable and you should be realistic in your expectations.
How much the reviews are trustworthy?
That is one of the area clients become puzzled. You might be getting too much positive reviews about a company but has a certain level of negative reviews as well. So which one should be trusted?
There is no meaning in downplaying the presence of paid positive reviews. For eg. Some companies follows the unethical way of paid reviews. They may provide some incentives or price reductions for each positive review from a client on a particular forum.
But majority will be genuine reviews. However you can consider negative reviews more dependable as it can only be done by a customer. In the case of a negative review from a non-client, the company will defend and it will be difficult for the reviewer to prove the authenticity of his claims.
So always check the reviews and asses its gravity. For eg. a statement about a response delay for a ftp account password reset is less severe than a complaint about keeping the server down for one hour.
Some might be wondering how pricing can be an indicative of support quality?
I agree that pricing alone isn’t a thumb rule for service quality. There can be difference in investment and operational expenditure on metro cities while the same is relatively cheaper in parks due to various incentives given for start up ventures. So it is possible to have same level of support without burning your pockets.
However the difference in pricing should be reasonable and can even be lower during sales promotional periods. In case, if the gap is wider, be assured that something fishy is happening.
Let me get into the maths, for instance suppose a company offers L2 admin for $600, the average expense as salary for an admin with 1 year experience would be approx-$300-350 . Similarly the company has to meet operational, training expenses and periodic appraisals as well. So a plan price can’t go below $500.
If you have been offered an L2 for 400, it means the staff is working for other clients or is not in the league of promised technical level.
Some hosting companies make a try with the notion that “something is better than nothing” and later becomes great fans of the saying “Nothing is better than non sense”
You should verify whether the details given by the company are genuine. For a company boasts about its decades of experience in the field you may check the details available in the public domain such as the company ownership date, domain registration date etc. Also you can confirm its existence and details such as phone number, infrastructure etc by physical verification as well.
Same is the case with employee strength, you may get a fair knowledge about their strength by checking various photos published in their site or in various social media platforms such as FB and twitter.
If you plan to hire a dedicated staff either from a company or a free lancer, get a resume and a photo id card. You may request for a copy of the passport. Also if possible conduct a skype/ video chat and check the veracity of the details provided
These are only some of the traits of good support companies. One needn’t be obsessed about these parameters alone and you should use your convictions and gut feelings to proceed further.