The Support Goal

There is but one goal in supporting your client or customer.

That is to resolve the issue or fulfill the request as quickly as possible.

We support many possible channels, but not all are needed in the end user support experience. If one channel or method works well, is efficient, then that may be all that is needed.

One method, several, or all may be needed. It is important to remember that the more channels there are it will offer convenience to the user, but also, the more complexities to the support infrastructure.

As well, too many channels and it can get confusing for support personnel. They have to try and data gather from all the offered channels and combine the methods the end user communicated during the lifetime of the support request. This means Phone, Chat, Email, Help Desk Trouble Tickets, etc… Customers also get over-whelmed by too many avenues of support.

Let’s take a look at all the channels now.

End User Support Channels

It is not by chance that Remote Control is the first item on our list.

Since the day of Microsoft and RDP desktop protocol, there has probably not been created a better tool than remote support. We can connect with stand-alone workstations, laptops, tablets, domain-joined computers, Internet of Things devices, and more.

Technical Support Engineers can connect to multiple support sessions with clients and work multiple request tickets at the same time if needed, install drivers, software, updates, firmware, and a whole lot more.

Companies can, and are, able to completely eliminate whole IT Staff Teams of on-site desktop support techs, hire one-third to half Remote Technical Support Engineers and contract out field service technicians for parts replacements on-site.

Remote Support puts the power to resolve issues in a technician’s hands and eases and gets rid of the stress and burden associated with older channel methods such as phone support.

Remote Desktop Support personnel can save companies several hundred thousand dollars to millions of dollars per year depending on the size of the IT Support Staff Team needed.

The Help Desk Ticking System is a powerful, well-organized tool.

It uses a reference numbering system. Detailed user information, device, and configuration information can be documented. Multiple users can work with the requestor of the issue and all notes on work performed can be provided. Multiple sessions over hours, days, or weeks are organized by a timeline.

Documents, screenshots, and files can be uploaded or sent to end user.

A company that implements both a ticketing system and remote control support are well on their way to being able to take control of their end user needs and have powerful effective tools, as well as documents history of both caller and company asset support history.

There is no doubt that the creation of email was a fantastic day in history.

Just prior to email we were writing on paper, folding, inserting, licking a stamp, traveling to the nearest post office to send to our dearly beloved. We then would wait several days, or maybe even weeks or months waiting for a reply.

With the invention of email we can now track events in almost real-time.

Email is a great communication tool, but an email client as a sole support tool is not on the top of the list, but not on the bottom either. Added extensions, features, and even third-party tools can help filter, sort, flag, group, etc… but why use email when there are free help desk ticketing system solutions available that are easier to use and a superior product?

People may not remember the URL to get to the help desk ticking system but with a help desk support email address they can easily contact the help desk.

Email can be used for an IT Support Team tool but it is better suited for:

  • Small companies and limited users to support
  • Non-critical issues
  • Strict historical records are not required
  • Tracking, metrics, service level agreements, scope of work or other ITIL criteria does not have to be documented or adhered to

Email is, like help desk ticking software a great tool to send HowTo documents, screenshots and detailed instructions as well as have to reference to communications.

Chat support is great for non-critical communications. The ease of use for chat support is awesome. If you do not put a filter like email or phone number required for initial communications it is like the old telephone operators asking ” How can I direct your call?”

The users on one end ask the questions and the chat support person or chat bot give them what they need.

By setting up smart chat bots, and providing predetermined common answers to questions, URLS, documents, step guides or anything else that are common customer support questions for your business you can literally program a bot to take the place of what may be 1 employee whole role in a company, or the combined time of several employees time fielding calls of questions. A chat bot can save you possibly 1 employee’s salary of 25k to 50k a year depending on what your current hourly wage is for a customer support person. You can eliminate the costs or make better, more productive use of your employee’s time for you.

Outbound calling is a great way to make many communications in a day.

Calling can be well laid out and predetermined or on an as-needed basis. Calls can be controlled. The reason for the call can be recorded, monitored, and documented. Phone calls are quick and are a great way to resolve issues or problems. We suggest using phone support especially non-technical support issues because issues with product orders, account issues or similar problems can be very problematic through email, and chat and possibly less secure.

Phone call support combined with scripts, and mentoring provide an effective means of communications and are easier than some other forms of support to project metrics and volumes of calls.

The entry barrier is low for support call staff and pricing is very competitive. There are many solutions from independent individuals that contact for call support as well as small companies that provide the services. Several VOIP and PBX solutions are available with such services as interactive voice response, extension numbers, message box, faxing capabilities and much more.

For both inbound and outbound calls we do not recommend it for support, but is not a black and white answer as there are some situations where critical issues for support require phone calls to walk users, service providers, third party support or conference calls are needed to resolve complex or critical issues.

Inbound calling works well for companies that need a main support location to direct users to.

This may be a retail company or a company with several or many offices in one or many states or countries.  Often we would want one main inbound number with a live operator or extensions list providing the proper group to forward calls to.  It works well as a simple, direct, easy-to-remember way of contacting support. The callers have direct access to support via one channel, and on the back-end are directed to who they need to get to.

The entry barrier and personnel costs are low. With well-documented training and reference material supplied for phone call agents, there are few or no surprises for the agents and they can excel at their job role in a short amount of time.

For both inbound and outbound calls we do not recommend it for support, but is not a black and white answer as there are some situations where critical issues for support require phone calls to walk users, service providers, third party support or conference calls are needed to resolve complex or critical issues.

We consider Desktop Support or In-Person support the premiere support channel.

To be given red carpet, professional, in-person, at-your-door service is something we all like. We feel special, important, cared for.

There is that something really special about in-person support. It just feels so good, so right. It is like walking into a Cadillac showroom, opening up the door on a brand new CoupeDeville, and sliding down into the smooth genuine leather seat with the smell of fresh new leather scent permeating through the cab interior.

Immediately you know, I Want THIS! but then you ask… “What’s the total cost?” And that my friend is when you walk back to your Chevy Sonic and Rickshaw down your bumpy highway because it is a means to an end, although no-frill, chills, or extremely memorable feelings to cherish later.

Depending on roles and duties, sites to support, etc… many desktop support technicians can complete 3-15 issues a day. Probably closer to 4-7 is a more accurate number.

This comes down to two basic issues:

  • Cost
  • Effectiveness

Together combined companies are seeing it as not the most effective way to handle support requests and are very costly.

Better use of a desktop support technician is for roles like projects, rollouts, upgrades, or other things requiring more skills or where the tasks can be duplicated in large quantities such as using SCCM and imaging many computers, Secure Erasing hard drives or other similar jobs where they are able to be effective and produce and get more accomplished.

Field Service is a necessary component of IT Support.

The IT environment should be well thought out and every other possible alternative to Field Service should take place or be attempted before doing a field service replacement. If many field service calls are being done you will want to ask yourself why is this happening and what can we do to eliminate or mitigate these service calls.

Field Service costs are very expensive and you do not want to be doing these unless Absolutely necessary. Costs for parts, the technician, the administrative costs, shipping, shipping time frame, driving to the location, possible DOA parts, technician skill level, and more.

Something as simple as changing out a CMOS battery in a desktop system can cost $100.00-200.00 dollars in complete total costs for a battery that costs about $1.00.

It is difficult to give pricing for field service calls in advance without actually completing the service request. Customers need to realize this and often a price range is given and if they are willing to pay up to top range if needed then schedule and place the call.

We do not want to over-charge a customer, but also do not want to lose money or partially pay for the service call ourselves. We normally do not make a profit on a service call as we are mainly facilitating the service call and have no direct control over their procedures, except specifically agreed upon basic service call criteria.

Documentation can be a real big agonizing chore or a fun project and enjoyable depending on who is creating the documents.

Please do not take the power of creating documents lightly. Creating reference documents, step guides, HowTo, warranty, privacy, legal, and many more documents gives you the power of a URL to point users to. Documents are powerful because they are a “create once” concept, and are repeatable if you have made some templates.

Documents will just need updated depending on what they are used for or why they were created. A visually stimulating and correct document can walk a user through a process that might take 1 hour to walk them through it over the phone. They may be able to follow the steps and be done in 5-20 minutes. This is a benefit to both the user’s time and to keeping your company costs down.

This is a perfect example of us talking about using the right tool, at the right time.

With step numbers and screenshots carefully detailed that is a cost savings of $15-25 dollars for a 1 hours call. That same document can be used over and over again for a different customer calling in and asking about the same process or procedure.

Documents can be used in multiple places at the same time. It may be a help section, faq’s, a knowledgebase or something similar but the point is that it is easy to get to, and the documents are easy to read, with lots of pictures and have only the information to complete the needed process or steps. (Limit putting excessive links, references, URL’s to external data. Keep the user focused on the steps and document process to complete.)