Technical support is the umbrella term referring to the sphere of support services a company can give to users of technology. Providers that offer technical support often give this service in packages to suit the customer, such as a block set of hours, bespoke support, or bundle price plans.
8.2 Types of Support
A help-desk is a resource offered by service providers or businesses intended to give the customer or end user information and support relating to their portfolio of products. It is often in the form of a number to call or an online page that allows customers to troubleshoot problems, read FAQs, or seek general guidance. Help-desk support is usually the first line of support for simple issues that can be resolved easily, and is typically given in the following formats:
- Telephone Support – this would be given when a customer calls the helpline or support line to receive help or instructions and resolve issues themselves.
- Online/Virtual Support – this is where control of the device experiencing issues is given over to the support provider, usually via downloaded software such as Citrix or TeamViewer. This type of support requires permission from the customer, as the screen and computer files will be visible to the provider’s support technician who will remote onto the machine.
On-site IT support involves a technician being on a customer site, providing help to their staff as required. On-site support can come in a few forms, a company can have an in-house team of their own employed technicians that provide support internally, or if this service is outsourced an on-site technician can be hired to be at the business’ premises as required or on contracted hours.
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8.3 Benefits of Outsourcing Technical Support
There are several benefits that come with outsourcing technical support for IT systems. Firstly, financial savings can be made by taking away the overhead annual cost of hiring a member of staff to support the systems. It may also allow a company to budget more easily as a payment plan can be incorporated on fixed agreements. A business might also notice an increase in uptime, because employees would be allowed to focus on crucial business development rather than trying to fix issues themselves, perhaps with a lack of knowledge.
8.4 Disadvantages of Outsourcing Technical Support
The main disadvantage of outsourcing technical support is the level of trust that must be placed in the service provider. At some point, it is highly likely that an employee will experience issues that cannot be fixed or easily explained over the phone, in these cases control of their machine will have to be given over to the service provider. They will be able to access the device remotely and fix the error, but at the same time they will be able to see whatever is on your screen in that given moment. Furthermore, if a business selects a provider with limited personnel or a complicated ticketing system, then staff could be waiting a while to be back online.
Lastly, trust is placed in the technical support partners that system backup is in place. If something goes wrong and critical systems go down it could be detrimental to business operations. Ask what their plan is in a disaster situation and how they would recover systems lost.
For more information on disaster recovery, refer to section 10.
8.5 What to look for in a good IT Technical Support Provider
For information on what to look for in your technical support service provider, please see section 8 in its entirety.
8.6 Outsourcing IT Technical Support for Small Businesses
Small businesses are often unable to afford or have enough work to warrant the employment of full-time technical staff with a range of skills and knowledge. Outsourcing support can drastically reduce the amount of outgoings. If the right provider is selected, then 24/7 help would be available from a whole team of experts whenever it is needed, even out of typical 9-5 working hours.
8.7 Outsourcing Technical Support for Large Businesses
Larger companies often have sites in several locations, so picking a technical support provider that can support their needs is easy. It is usually a good idea to choose a provider that is close in physical proximity in case on-site visits are required. Furthermore, a common disadvantage of outsourcing support is the time taken waiting for issues to be fixed due to sometimes complicated ticketing systems. With large businesses, this is not necessarily a disadvantage. The savings made by outsourcing support balance out any downtime during times when issues are being fixed, but selecting a partner that can grow with the business is key.
Large businesses may also wish to outsource support to actually compliment the work being done by in-house staff. If the member of staff that provides support is unable to turn in one day, then external support staff can step in. They can also offer support if the work load is large on a particular day. Whatever the size of a company or their requirements, a business will be able to select a support package that suits them, it’s very much a bespoke service.
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