Choosing Between Remote and Dispatched On-Site Desktop Support

A man is standing looking straight ahead and holding a briefcase

Who doesn’t like having a desktop support professional at their beck and call, ready to take over their PC and fix everything? The answer is easy, but for organizations that can’t afford a full-time resource on site, the logistics may not be. The challenge for most IT support vendors is figuring out how to make on-site dispatched support to the desktop work in an efficient, cost-effective way without compromising responsiveness and consistent service quality. It can be a tough code to crack for technically diverse and geographically dispersed satellite locations whose support requests are few and far between. While a Remote Level 2 is the logical alternative for the 70% of incidents that can be resolved remotely, there are issues that absolutely require an on-site presence, usually when the root cause is due to a hardware failure or server outage. In those instances deploying the appropriate resource for hands-on troubleshooting in the most literal sense is the ideal approach. Also, traditional desktop support services projects such as Installs, Moves, Adds, and Changes (IMACs) call for the same in person solution, but they tend to be scheduled for multiple workstations over much longer durations on a proactive basis than a true dispatch scenario (i.e. response to an interruption in IT services).

Lower Costs

Whatever desktop tasks are required, unless there are multiple issues handled in one visit, the ROI on dispatched support suffers as the inherent value in the volume doesn’t apply. Instead, the value is derived solely from the impact and urgency of resolution for that one support issue. The primary advantage to a remote solution is the elimination of travel costs. With a dispatched solution, vendors typically tack on a separate charge for travel comparable to the hourly rate for labor. And those that don’t will either build that into the labor rate or establish a minimum number of hours to justify the trip. Consequently, clients get more bang for their buck with a short-term project or a rotating full-time desktop resource (i.e. scheduled visits for one day per week or per month) than with a “one and done” Level 2 incident resolution. With a remote solution, you’re paying only for screen time, not windshield time.

Faster Response

Even enterprise scale vendors with a broad global footprint make on-demand support work by subcontracting to local technicians whose response time is best effort and work orders filled in the order received.  While remote level 2 response time is measured in seconds, technicians traveling to client locations even within a short radius have a response time measured in hours regardless of the severity of the issue. Only the rare technician who prefers part-time work at irregular hours will accommodate the open schedule required for a faster response. Otherwise, they will likely be engaged elsewhere at the time they are summoned for the next job which, in addition to travel time, is why the on-site ETA for dispatch services tend to be more relaxed. With Remote Level 2 the next available agent in the queue can begin troubleshooting within seconds of that first contact.

Consistent Service Quality

Unless that on-site technician is employed full time with one organization, support will be inconsistent due to turnover as the more skilled technicians find a steady paycheck elsewhere. It takes a special breed of technician who likes variety or the element of surprise in their daily commute. In contrast, their remote counterparts typically log in from either a single call center or a home office, put less wear and tear on their vehicles, and have more personal time. As a consequence, retention of remote technicians tends to be higher. The payoff for clients is their employees receive consistent quality of service often delivered by a familiar voice at the other end of the VoIP line.

Remote access tools enable Level 2 agents to troubleshoot directly at the end user’s desktop as they both communicate via phone or chat session. So the only thing missing from a deskside visit may be the face time and the coffee breath that goes with is. On the other hand, if the end user culture relies heavily on the deskside presence even for standard remote support issues like Wi-Fi setup, drive mapping, password resets, Outlook account administration, they should consider placing a full time dedicated Level 1 agent on site as a more effective alternative to an intermittently dispatched Level 2 technician. Otherwise, it’s like paying a la carte for half of the buffet menu. Whatever the situation, each client must evaluate their response time, contact type, culture and volume requirements in relation to their current budget. Hopefully, then, the choice will be clear.