Most Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations with under 70 employees prefer to outsource Computer Network Support to an IT services company (or a freelance IT consultant) instead of having a dedicated computer technican on staff. There are several reasons for that discussed separately. We'd like to focus on logistics of Small Business tech-support and discuss its main types. We'd rely on the experience of Allora's technicians that they acquired through providing computer network support in Raleigh-Durham area since late nineties.

There are four distinct ways to diagnose a problem and provide IT assistance or IT maintenance for a customer:

Onsite tech support

is the oldest and the most traditional type of IT support while it retains the bragging rights of the best way to resolve a failure in IT infrastructure. Let's take a closer look:

PROs:
  • interactive and the most "human" approach
  • explicitly conducted type of support, readily available for inspection
  • strongly desired by a lot of customers who prefer to deal with caring specialist with as little insulation and barriers as possible
  • the only way to efficiently diagnose and troubleshoot hardware issues  - audio, video, unbootable devices
CONs:
  • not available immediately and always  a subject to a certain response time
  • more costly due to drive time required for a technician to get onsite
  • adds a low risk of personal issues due to a character incompatibility between a customer and a technician because of a more open interaction and less formal environment

Remote desktop support:

This kind of support is easily available as an IT consultant can provide this service regardless of physical location for as long as there's good quality Internet connection on both sides. For example: a client in Durham NC needs immediate help but his prime technician is with another customer in Chapel Hill, the simplest solution is to ask for a break and conduct remote desktop support for the most pressing issue. Often a Phone support call accompanies a remote desktop session.

PROs:
  • interactive if needed
  • low response time
  • allows for copy / paste, file transfers unlike
  • the only way to efficianetly diagnose and troubleshoot hardware issues  - audio, video, unbootable devices
  • as a rule it's the quickest way to conduct IT maintenance or provide IT assistance
CONs:
  • hardware failures may be difficult to deal with
  • typically unable to deal  with audio and video performance issues efficiently
  • requires reliable broadband internet

Phone Support:

Phone support is the easiest to provide and is also promptly available. Unfourtunately that's about it when it comes to PROs and there's a long list of

CONs:

  • the process is very slow because a customer often needs to read from a computer screen and verbally describe visual information
  • difficult and time consuming to relay commands and actions that need to be executed
  • prone to spelling errors and slugish because of error corrections and miscommunication
  • an IT consultant is unable to spot vitally important visual information otherwise not noted and reported by a customer
  • execution errors might inflict additional problems

Email or forum support:

This is the most flexible computer network support as both a customer and an IT consultant have the luxury of working things out on their own schedule.

PROs:
  • an option to copy & paste commands and instructions for execution
  • attachments such as screen-shots, batch files, patches to eliminate out bugs, etc
  • flexible schedule
  • optional team support allowing many participants to bring their own strengths necessaru for composing a complete IT solution
  • solid archive for future use of established resolutions or reporting and journaling purposes
CONs:
  • not interactive communication
  • tech support process can easily be disrupted if one party does not respond or misses a message
  • execution errors of suggested troubleshooting steps might trigger new problems or lead to confusion and communication breakdown
  • generally not suitable for resolving hardware issues or problems with audtio or video performance

Conclusion:

If circumstances permit it's best to leave it to an IT consultant to decide which type of support is the most suitable in a given situation. Many IT Services Companies tend to limit customers' options for receiving tech support, for example some are completely incapable of providing a timely onsite tech support. Allora's business philosophy has always prioritized deriving a prompt and affordable IT solution whatever type of computer network support it might need.

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