Technical Support: The New Business of Service
Technical support has come a long way since the early days of computer-driven companies. As noted by TechRepublic, for example, first-gen tech support was hemmed in by tasks, location and time. C-suites and employees considered technology an almost mystical force and weren’t interested in how problems were solved so long as computers worked and networks were available. Flash forward 25 years and things have changed.
Technical Support Has Changed for the Better
IT is now a fundamental part of the revenue generation strategy for any company. As a result, five trends are changing the face of tech support once again: productivity, cloud computing, IT consumerization, corporate social media and the drive for better service. What’s their impact on tech departments and the C-suites tasked with supporting better IT service?
1. Productivity Problems
C-suites now have IT departments under the microscope. IT mandates must solve day-to-day tech issues and develop a long-term strategy to improve productivity and eventually spur revenue growth. According to CRN, one of the biggest roadblocks to better productivity is the cultural shift — employees used to working with one technology resent the implementation of another, especially if it comes with a steep learning curve. The result is often the opposite of what’s intended, with tech-savvy employees disappearing into the shadows and using ad hoc mobile and cloud-based solutions to solve line-of-business problems.
Bottom line? The new focus on productivity demands a similar commitment to employee (and C-suite) training to ensure a smooth transition. This is critical for technical support: If employees don’t understand how to get help or what form that help takes, they’ll avoid support altogether.
2. Calling All Clouds
It’s impossible to ignore the lure of cloud computing. Every year another iteration of this technology — from private to public to hybrid — is the next big thing and has companies worldwide jumping on board. For C-suites, the type and hype don’t really matter: What they’re looking for is reduced cost combined with a better ability to serve corporate needs.
Tech support and the cloud are often an ideal match: The on-demand nature of both services provides a natural connection point. For technical support staff, however, it’s important to recognize that employees don’t care if the cloud is down, sluggish or doesn’t have the answers they want. IT must be prepared to handle tech events even if the cloud isn’t being cooperative.
3. Consumer Command
According to Business 2 Community, the distance between user and device has been significantly reduced thanks to the consumerization of IT. Simply put, IT firms and developers now think of end products as targeting consumers rather than large enterprises or IT professionals.
The challenge for tech support? Many users enjoy a substantial amount of technical knowledge that they will put to use if support personnel don’t respond to their requests quickly enough or deny access without explanation. Just as the distance between device and developer has closed, so, too, must the gap between IT support and employees.
4. Social Media Show
The past few years have seen a significant rise in the number of corporate social media accounts designed to engender brand loyalty and help address consumer concerns. As noted by the Financial Times, many of these efforts boil down to “capitalism with a human face” since companies are looking for a way to boost sales by engineering organic connections.
For tech support, meanwhile, social media provides a way to drive efficiency with that same human touch: By monitoring all existing corporate personnel accounts, IT pros can see and address calls for tech help made by users and sent to the social space at large. Intervening early and effectively lets technical support personnel carve out a niche for themselves as proactive, compassionate problem-solvers.
5. Service On Demand
Mobile apps are in a constant state of flux. Cloud computing never stays the same for more than a few weeks, and C-suite executives often want IT to deliver enterprise-grade service on a shoestring budget. Delivering performance that both garners rave reviews and satisfies the CEO, however, is actually driven by a shift in perspective rather than technology.
Instead of thinking in terms of devices and servers or applications and flaws, IT personnel need to adopt a user-centric view of their world. The key driver of satisfaction is mapped based on the end user view: What kind of questions do they ask? What kind of services do they need? What defines a positive outcome? Safe bets here include speed, friendliness and a willingness to listen rather than presume when it comes to IT issues.
IT support is undergoing a revolution. Make sure you’re on the right side of history.