The Cost of Multi-Vendor Support

Written by Patrick Charbonneau on Aug 06, 2014

With so many tech products in today’s homes that are increasingly interconnected —and not just in geek households- consumers are facing a whole new set of challenges. As a result, an increasing number of support calls stem from the complex relationships between multiple devices and services. 

Research by TSIA indicates that up to 73% of consumer tech support incidents involve another vendor’s product. This multi-vendor complexity is increasing the cost of a typical support call significantly.

This trend is only going to increase: Cisco’s research estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected in 2020, while another report by Morgan Stanley estimates that number could reach as much as 75 billion.

NOT OUR PRODUCT. NOT OUR PROBLEM?

What if I want to send a document from my iPhone to my wireless printer via the AirPrint protocol, but it doesn’t work. Who do I call? Do I call Apple? Or the printer manufacturer? Or the maker of my WI-FI router? In an ideal world, I shouldn’t have to choose: any one of them should be able to help me. Technology companies who want to keep their customers happy need to hone their expertise to support problems beyond the scope of their own products.

Technology support is no longer just about specific products—it’s about a user’s total environment.

Widening the scope of support this way can only happen if support agents have access to the knowledge required to solve these multi-vendor issues. Yet the traditional knowledge management solutions that are implemented by most technology companies today are designed to handle a limited number of issues, for their own products. They simply cannot handle the multi-vendor environment with its large—and growing—number of potential problems. As a result, many tech support agents are abandoning their knowledge base.

USING THE WEB AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE BASE

In order to support issues involving other vendors’ products, agents have to increasingly rely on the web, where solutions to most consumer technology problems are publicly available. The only problem is that Googling for every support call can be very time-consuming. That’s why multi-vendor support often becomes a cost-benefit debate with some support teams feeling the cost may be too high. But when you consider the potential of losing customers who can’t use your product successfully, the cost of not solving these multi-vendor issues will be much higher.

At AppHelp, we’ve developed a way to reap the benefits of multi-vendor support by leveraging support content from the public web, while keeping tabs on call-handling time. I’m referring to AppHelp Reveal, which is a cloud service that empowers agents to find and share the most trusted support content from the web. Reveal enhances Google search results by surfacing the most relevant solutions to any tech support problem right on the Google search results page. You benefit from a win-win scenario: more customer problems solved, without increasing support costs or changing the way you work.

Reveal is currently available as an invite only release, and you can try it free by requesting access. So go ahead…signup for Reveal now and let us know what you think!