Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. EarthLink Inc. has approximately 4,000 technical support representatives
in eight locations across the United States. But even this large Atlanta-based Internet service provider (ISP) is overwhelmed with customer calls, so it chose Nashville, Tenn.-based ClientLogic Corp. to outsource technical support for its dial-up Internet service.
"We really use outsourcing to help us smooth out peaks in call volume," said Carter Calle, executive vice president of customer support at EarthLink. ClientLogic does not replace the agents already employed by EarthLink, but supports them during heavy call volumes, he said. EarthLink's in-house tech support representatives handle about 30,000 calls in a day. ClientLogic agents handle about 10% of the tech support call volume.
To ensure that the 400 EarthLink-dedicated ClientLogic representatives would not sit idle during lean times, ClientLogic reps were trained to respond to e-mail queries as well, which are integrated with the telephone support, Calle said.
"We believe strongly in training agents to handle multichannel services," said Channing Rollo, marketing communications manager at ClientLogic. "The EarthLink account has bridged the gap between telephone and e-mail support so the customers never have to repeat themselves," she said.
EarthLink uses ClientLogic's inbound technical support, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services and e-mail support services, Rollo said.
The ISP didn't choose outsourcing for hourly cost savings, according to Calle. Rather, EarthLink wanted to avoid the impact on human resources, training, recruiting and the facilities themselves that come with hiring several hundred new representatives.
In order to make outsourcing work, Calle advises other companies to treat the outsourcers as partners. "An issue (with my old company) was that the company had taken an adversarial stance with the outsourcer and viewed the call center in general as a pain," he said. EarthLink works with ClientLogic to find new product direction and holds regular quarterly meetings.
EarthLink uses ClientLogic as another node of EarthLink call centers.
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