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Technical support

From Academic Kids

Technical support is a service used by ICT companies used to help solve problems with technical equipment, usually computer hardware and software.

Contents

Types of support

Technical support can happen through various media, including e-mail, live chat, telephones, applications, faxes and technicians, although the most common vector is that of the telephone. Often technical support takes the forms of support for a particular range of products or services, the support remit.

Support remits have several purposes, including legal liability, training, and availability. An Internet technical support contractor has a limited number of Erlang units (for instance, Customer Support Advisors) available at any one time, and so needs to satisfy a certain rate of customers. If it supports and assists on products not relating to the support remit then the customer throughput will be lower than if it only supports certain issues. Training is also a factor, built around the proverb that a jack of all trades is a master of none - a limited support remit limits the amount of training required for the support officer or CSA and allows for greater customer confidence - the definition of a support remit prevents the support officer or CSA from being humiliated by being asked about matters about which he or she knows little or nothing. A support remit also protects from liability lawsuits - incorrect advice on, say, Internet Explorer configuration may cause only limited damage, but incorrect advice on a Power Supply Unit may lead to serious injury or fire.

Proliferation

With the introduction of the internet and especially DSL products into the mass market, technical support as a segment of the service industry has exploded in recent years, augmented by the formation of dedicated companies and outsourcing. In recent years, large numbers of call centres have been established to provide telephone technical support, clusters of centres often forming in former industrial cities such as Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Mumbai.

There are also a growing number of online technical-support bulletin boards, such as Bleeping Computer [1] (http://www.bleepingcomputer.com), Geeks to Go [2] (http://www.geekstogo.com), protonic (http://www.protonic.com) 5 Star Support [3] (http://www.5starsupport.com), and Tech Support Forum [4] (http://www.techsupportforum.com).

In tandem with the growth of technical support is the growth of technical support jobs, seen as McJobs by many of their holders. Technical support workers have a stereotyped reputation as being somewhat recalcitrant and self-satisfied; similarly, customers of technical support have a stereotype of being stupid and arrogant. There exist quite a few anecdotes implying and reinforcing the above stereotypes, many of which are undetermined urban legends [5] (http://www.rinkworks.com/stupid), [6] (http://www.techcomedy.com).

Coverage of support

Technical support varies depending on the range of posibilities. Some things that are not supported in lower levels of support can be supported with higher service levels: for instance, only direct questions can feasibly be addressed through SMS or fax; basic software problems can be addressed over the telephone; while hardware problems often need to be dealt with in person.

Cost of technical support

The cost of support can vary. Some companies offer limited free support when their hardware or software is purchased; others charge by premium-rate telephone calls. (See ICSTIS. Some are free by using forums, live chat, or email. Others offer support contracts.

See also

External link

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