With the preponderance of remote deployment, monitoring, access, and remediation tools, it’s safe to say remote help desk support remains the ideal first point of contact for resolving technical issues. Since roughly 80% of all support incidents don’t require a physical presence to resolve, filtering out those incidents at the help desk is the fastest and most efficient way to get end users back to work. But what about the other 20%? Even in a cloud based, virtual IT environment, there are some things remote access tool just won’t fix. Hardware failures are still a thing. Bad hard drives, faulty keyboards, recurring printer jams, and damaged network cables still demand smart hands on site. Sure the MSP can remotely manage patches and perform anti-virus updates. But RMM tools can’t fix a failing power supply on a network switch. You still need someone for on-site IT support.
So what happens next? The help desk agent then escalates the support ticket to the appropriate desktop support group. The agent includes all of the previously executed troubleshooting and triaging steps that potentially indicate a root cause. The agent then forwards the ticket via email along with the end user contact info. The next available technician then follows up with the end user and schedules a visit to their desktop to address the physical point of failure.
An Ounce of Prevention
That being said, taking a break/fix approach to on-site IT support incidents is more of a reactive than proactive approach. Depending on the number of end users impacted and recurring incidents with the same device, a more proactive MSP will recommend a permanent fix. Ideally, that MSP will assess all hardware including network IT assets in advance of service implementation. Next, they’ll make recommendations for improvement where necessary. Often, it’s a tough conversation to have.
“Any time you’re recommending investments in additional IT hardware, business owners can be resistant,” says TechNoir CIO and Partner Jim Velco. “Understandably, the tendency is to squeeze every ounce of life out of legacy systems to save on capital expenses. They just have to understand that ignoring faulty hardware means kicking on-site support requests down the road.”
The problem is operational expenses from frequent network outages can be ten times as costly. Even if the MSP immediately dispatches a network engineer on site to troubleshoot a switch or router, the time to resolve multiplied by the number of affected users can have astronomical financial impacts. So the goal is to ensure business continuity and prevent company-wide incidents before outages impact everyone on the network. The next best thing is to have a rapidly deployed network engineer on site should there be an unexpected failure with an access point or switch that requires a physical presence to resolve.
How Quickly Can You Get Here?
For larger corporate sized accounts, the volume of hands-on support tasks usually justifies investing in full time on-site resources given the economies of scale. For small businesses, a dispatch support model is a more cost-effective alternative. In such instances, meeting guaranteed response times means clients should select an MSP with a local presence. That way the MSP can immediately dispatch support technicians to their location when necessary. A good question to ask IT vendors in the evaluation process would be how may technicians or engineers are on their payroll? What is their geographic radius of coverage? How many other accounts do they support? Prospective clients should incorporate these questions when vetting MSPs in order to gauge technician availability.
I.T. is Still a People Business
No matter how quickly technology advances, there will always be an undeniably human element to IT. Especially when dealing with interruptions in functionality ahead of looming project deadlines human emotions can be visceral. As a result, remote communication methods like phone, email, or chat don’t always convey empathy, urgency, and the reassurance that everything will be ok. To that extent face to face support will always take first place from a customer service standpoint. It’s the same reason that people submit support tickets and shoulder tap their favorite tech a minute later. Being seen is being heard. Even though a remote support technician could access a computer via Kaseya or TeamViewer, the side by side troubleshooting process and Q & A dialogue offers real closure to the support issue, not just the ticket itself.
Even in a dispatched support model where technicians don’t work full time at the client’s location, on-site troubleshooting duties can be extended. It’s not unusual for end users to grab a technician on the way out from another workstation and request troubleshooting for a new issue. A good MSP will always comply while they’re in the office although they may request the end user submit a ticket first.
Keeping People and Systems Fully Functional
Whether it’s an end user or a network, no matter what prompts an on-site visit to the client’s location, there’s no tolerance for downtime. The expectation for the ability to access data or a person is instantaneous. So redundancy and the ability to communicate is of the utmost importance. Below are the typical MSP service implementation steps designed to minimize on-site support incidents:
- Perform a network assessment including walk through of all hardware assets and replace or update legacy systems if necessary.
- Conduct dashboard discovery, review network performance and available licenses
- Ensure minimal operating system standards to enable RMM and remote access tools
- Deploy RMM solution for patches and updates for all desktops/laptops and servers, identify out of compliance devices for remediation
- Deploy data backup solution for business continuity
- Conduct end user training and/or grant access to self-help knowledgebase
Short of that, a physical presence will always be part of the solution. Make sure your MSP’s IT support staff are always standing by or within reasonable proximity.