I guess no one would be surprised if I say that remote work has become extremely popular. With the use of modern technologies, almost anything can be done remotely. Technical support is a good example here as for some time already many companies outsource their customer support to managed services providers.
For me, it seems like there’s a great possibility that the quality would get worse but that’s something that I’d like to get into later in this article. Meanwhile, this approach helps to significantly reduce the cost of these services, scale up your remote support tech team and, as a result, cope with the much bigger number of queries. Thus, it’s no wonder companies look into building offshore teams instead of setting up in-house ones. It totally makes sense because these MSPs already have the best remote support software, hardware, experienced remote support team and everything else that is required.
Remote Support History Overview
There was a time when remote support was provided via telephones and even before we saw the first Windows OS released, a technical support specialist could help you out with your MS-DOS based application (menu or keystroke driven). Sounds a bit weird but all I’m trying to point out here is that if you have the right person on the other end of the phone, you should be able to solve your problem following simple instructions. We keep using phones for remote support but these days VoIP seems like a better solution.
With the release of Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, remote desktop support could be provided with the help of Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop that were using the RDP protocol. It does not require any additional software to be installed on the client’s side. It was also available for Mac OS. RDP was working well, even with slow internet speed.
Back in 2001, Dell was one of the first companies to outsource their customer support department to India. Two years later the Tennessee Board of Regents started to get complaints about that telephone support. As it seems, language and cultural rifts were the key points but you can read more about it here.
The internet has evolved, and remote support could be done via the web. Before web apps emerged, support was done via email and live chats. I know these types of support are still being used on many websites. It serves great and often has a pleasant user interface, but it does not always cover all the required aspects. Then, the web-based apps appeared. There are two main types of web-based remote desktop support products:
- Products that require software to be installed on a client’s computer, so it could be managed remotely;
- Products that don’t require software to be installed in advance.
These days, the number of applications for remote support and access is huge and, as a result, the competition provides us with a great choice. Nowadays, there’s software for remote access and support that can even help to test hardware remotely. But enough of the history, let’s take a closer look at the reasons why support should actually be done remotely.
Remote Tech Support Cos and Pros
Of course, any company wants to make sure they constantly improve customer experience. We have seen that outsourcing customer support can do the opposite. Still, the result really depends on outsourcing location and other factors. Thus, if you have an offshore customer support team with good language and skills and this team is dedicated to your company, it should not go that bad as with Dell. Moreover, you can have a contract that includes SLA (service-level agreement) that should be set and followed diligently.
The best thing here is that you don’t need to know how to manage a remote team because it’s the responsibility of the service provider. I should also mention that besides outsourcing, there’s also freelancing but, in my opinion, it’s not a good solution. As I see it, if you need more than one specialist, it would be complicated to manage separate freelancers. So, as there are a few ways to approach remote support, I’ll try to outline the common advantages and disadvantages.
|Cost-effective||You have to provide hardware, software, office space|
|Staffing is easier||Lack of control|
|No need for micromanagement||Communication is more difficult|
|Access to a bigger talent pool||Lack of unity and synergy|
I’m sure I’ve not included everything possible, but these are the most important factors.
Retail Business Support and Automation Experience
I would also like to get back to the quality issue. I have interviewed an application developer who was automating and supporting a retails business for a customer of the company I work for. You can check out the interview here. I’ve made a conclusion that with the use of modern technologies and dedicated employees, tech support can not only be done remotely but also can be automated and improved.
While our developer was an extremely experienced professional with good language skills, the same kind of specialist would cost much more for that retail company if he would be hired locally. The same goes for technical support salary. So, two main reasons to choose remote for me are money and global tech talent.
Looking at how technology is changing everything around, I would suggest that remote is the future of work. IT industry is evolving so quickly that the demand for tech talent is always much bigger than the supply. While having an offshore customer support team can save a lot of money and open an access to more talents, improving remote work policies and choosing the right outsourcing location would eliminate the biggest cons.
There are different types of remote employment. Freelancing fits the best for companies with a very limited budget if they don’t need a big support team and don’t require a high level of customer support services. For medium-sized and big companies, the best solution would be outsourcing their customer support and use the services of trusted and well-rated MSPs.
Of course, enterprises with “unlimited” resources would almost always choose quality, communication, and synergy over cost-savings. This is understandable, but I have seen how a big retail company chooses to hire a dedicated developer from Ukraine to take over their retail system automation and support. Thus, choose remote but make sure to prepare a contract.