Today, technology has transformed every aspect of life and business, making them more effective and efficient. However, when that technology fails, it can cause serious problems that can inconvenience individuals, compromise safety and cost businesses a lot of money. Technical support encompasses all of the services that exist to make sure that technology does not fail, as well as those that provide repair and recovery should it do so. There are many different models for providing technical support, each one suited to different needs and requirements and each with its own advantages and drawbacks, which means that the best technical support solution for one user or business may not be the same for all others.
The key differences between different kinds of tech support are scalability, the level of specialization and coverage. Scalability of tech support determines how many customers can be helped at one time. Consumer electronics or mass-scale service providers often need highly scalable tech support solutions, since they need to deal with many customers every day. Level of specialization represents the specific knowledge necessary to solve the problem. Coverage describes how quickly support can be rendered. A major business will want round-the-clock coverage, while a consumer electronics manufacturer can offer limited support hours.
Solving technical problems can vary significantly depending on the severity and the complexity of the issue. However, most technical problems follow a relatively straightforward process, including prevention, diagnosis, solution, recovery and improvement.
Call-in tech support works similarly to the way a plumber or an electrician would. Once a problem is discovered, a technician is sent out to solve the issue, with the client paying for both materials and labor on a case-by-case basis. This solution can offer highly specialized services, but is not nearly as scalable as other solutions, with coverage varying by service provider and the level of expertise necessary.
Block hours is a hybrid between a dedicated technical support service and a specialized call-in service. Here, a client pre-pays for a certain block of hours per month or year at a flat rate, often at a discount. While this is a more scalable option than call-in support, and often comes with better coverage, while still offering a high level of technical expertise. This is often the preferred choice for larger companies that often need specialized tech support services.
Managed services tech support guarantees their clients certain tech support services or capabilities at a flat rate. These often include common issues that are key to a company’s function, such as guaranteeing server uptime or technical support for basic computer issues. If there is a problem that is preventing one of the services from functioning properly, the managed services provider will fix it. Managed services are very scalable, and often provide constant coverage, but often do not offer support for more complex problems.
Crowdsourcing, also known as a ‘self-help’ tech support method, involves consulting other users of the software or hardware, often over the internet, about the problem and the potential solutions that might work. This is a very scalable method, and is free of charge, but it can take a long time to hear back about particularly complicated or specialized issues, and there is no guarantee that a working solution can be found.