Q&A: Maximizing Your Remote Support ROI

If remote support solutions can relieve IT of some of its help-desk burden, why isn't it used more often or to better advantage?

With all the benefits remote support tools can provide, why isn't it a more popular option within IT? We explore what's holding back its full adoption and use and how mobile computing plays a part in support with Mark West, vice president of value engineering at Bomgar, a firm specializing in remote support.

Enterprise Strategies: Why aren't companies using remote support solutions to their full potential?

Mark West: In a word, training. Many remote control vendors have significantly enhanced the capabilities of their products with advanced features, such as support to and from smartphones and tablets, ticketing system integration, and scripting. Unfortunately, most organizations are only using about 20 percent of their remote support system's capabilities simply because their users are not aware of or trained in these new features. Educating support agents about these capabilities can significantly improve IT support efficiency and customer satisfaction without any additional investment. Labor represents up to 85 percent of support costs, so training on remote control has an extremely high payoff.

If using remote support tools shortens resolution times, how can IT organizations further promote their use?

First, organizations need to understand why increasing their use of remote support will make them more efficient and increase their customers' satisfaction. When using chat with remote control, agents can simultaneously support multiple users versus helping customers one at a time via the phone. Obviously, this means more problems get handled faster and at a lower cost. In addition, when agents can see and control the end users' screen, they can more quickly diagnose and fix the issue rather than rely on the user to accurately relay the details and interpret the corrective actions themselves.

Organizations can increase remote control usage by giving end users easy options for requesting a remote support session, such as deploying "request a support session" buttons on their desktops or embedding them into their support portals. If end users can reach an agent in just one click, they're more likely to avoid picking up the phone. Organizations should also integrate the remote control tool with their help desk ticketing system so agents can quickly launch a remote support session right from the trouble ticket.

Today's end users are in many different locations and using a wide variety of devices. How can IT support organizations handle this?

Three steps: Consolidate, educate, and collaborate.

Over time, it's not uncommon for organizations to accumulate a variety of remote control tools to support different platforms and locations. Consolidating and standardizing on a centralized solution that supports all of your systems and locations means your team can do everything from one tool, resulting in lower training costs and improved skills.

Support costs are lowered and customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) is improved when issues are resolved on the first contact at the first level, typically the lowest and cheapest resource in the organization. However, front-line support agents can't possibly be experts on every single device and technology platform, meaning many organizations continue to push 20 percent or more of their tickets to the next tier. Educating your front line reps to be specialists on certain technologies, then enabling them to collaborate and leverage each other's expertise when needed, can reduce costly escalations.

Employ remote support tools that allow multiple technicians to simultaneously work on a problem, so your techs can observe other specialists as they resolve issues; an excellent real-time training opportunity. Over time, tier-one techs will broaden their skills, improving CSAT and reducing resource costs.

Service desk reps often need to be mobile, for example when working on hardware in different locations. How can they stay productive while on the go?

Some remote support tools now work in iPhones, iPads, Android devices, etc., taking the "desk" out of "help desk." By arming your support team with these apps, they can work on support sessions even when away from the help desk, greatly increasing productivity.

How can organizations alleviate juggling multiple help desk solutions?

First, it's important to consolidate solutions when possible, as I mentioned. Second, look for opportunities to integrate your various help desk tools. From a remote support perspective, some solutions offer integrations with help desk and service desk systems, allowing the support agent to start a remote support session right from the trouble ticket and then automatically feeding relevant data back into the ticket. This eliminates the need for the agent to jump back and forth between systems and cut and paste data into the ticket.

Many help desk requests are repetitive, particularly when going through software upgrades or some type of mass deployment project. How can IT organizations best handle repetitive trouble tickets?

In the manufacturing world, reducing variability in processes has proven to be one of the effective ways to improve efficiency. The same can be applied to using remote control tools for support organizations. Analyze the most common issues that prove to be the best candidates for remote support, and create standard use cases for when and how to handle them. As the variability in remote control usage decreases, your productivity, average handling time (AHT), and resolution rates should improve.

Additionally, if your remote support solution supports scripting, centrally create and manage scripts to use for tickets with similar or identical issues. Organizations that take this approach are able to reduce AHT and improve CSAT because there is a centralized process and standard approach for fixing repetitive tickets.

How can organizations ensure they are providing sufficient support for their end users?

Everyone's heard the expression, "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Many current remote support systems have fairly extensive reporting and management capabilities. Take advantage of the data captured by your support systems, such as CSAT, first call resolution rates, average length of support session, remote control usage by technician, remote control usage by call type and other important indicators of quality and performance. When you create standard operating procedures for remote control usage and then measure the performance, you can improve compliance, quality, and performance.

What products or services does Bomgar offer for help desk support?

Bomgar offers a secure remote support solution that enables organizations to provide support to and from nearly any device or platform; from standard Windows, Mac and Linux systems, to iPads, iPhones and Android mobile devices. With Bomgar, support agents can remotely connect to and support these systems as if they're physically in front of the device, no matter where they're located. Bomgar keeps systems secure and companies compliant with its appliance-based architecture, comprehensive audit trails, identity management integration, and granular access controls. The company also has a highly skilled consulting and integration team that can provide recommendations or turnkey assistance with remote control implementation, ticketing system integration, and support process improvement.

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