Five tips for strengthening an understaffed support team

If your support group is stretched too thin, service levels will drop, nerves will fray, user satisfaction will plummet, and staffers will leave. Here are several ways to help your techs succeed despite being shorthanded.

It's no secret that many IT departments are struggling to do more with less. Techs must support increasing numbers of mobile devices, applications, and off-site workers -- without additional funds or staff. How can they cope? Here are a few things that may help.

1: Enable techs to clone themselves

Upgrade current support tools to include channels like chat that allow IT support reps to handle multiple customer issues at once. Reps often have to wait while an end user's computer reboots or a file downloads, so they might as well use that time to help other customers.

2: Unchain them from their desks

Invest in new mobile technologies, such as iPads, to equip your techs to receive issues and support end users even when they're away from their desk fixing other problems.

3: Use escalations as training opportunities

Leverage collaboration technologies to allow frontline support reps to watch higher-tier SMEs resolve issues and to learn what to do the next time the issue arises. With tools such as remote support screen sharing, techs from different locations can view the same end user's screen and pass control of the keyboard and mouse back and forth to collaborate on the solution and watch how the other fixes the problem.

4: Automate the automatable

Equip your techs with the tools they need to automatically diagnose and resolve commonly occurring issues, including ones that proactively alert IT to issues before they are reported. For example, you can avoid a flood of calls due to slow system response times by monitoring server performance and setting up alerts for any dips in performance before it affects users.

5: Keep users in the loop

Inform users of progress, communicate that the issue is being actively worked, let them know things are progressing. A 15-minute support session can seem like an eternity when the end user is kept in the dark. Send them emails to update them on the status of their request or provide them with a self-service portal where they can track the issue, just like they would a package delivery.

Additional resources

Nathan McNeill is chief strategy officer for Bomgar.