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Reducing Support Times & Options

By The Admiral ·
Many technicians have problems when it comes to supporting systems that are different or have quirks that, if you look at them overall differ from machine to machine. In some cases it can cause application incompatibility. A good example of this is when the video drivers of a notebook take the same memory space of Microsoft Word or Lotus WordPro.

There are some things that the company can do to reduce the amount of time a technician spends on incompatibilities that should not be an issue in the first place. Here is just a few:

First, standardize the hardware across the entire corporation. In many cases, making one desktop that has many of the same features as notebooks (such as the operating chipset into the system) can make a difference in time to support a particular system.

Second, create a standard image for all of the systems across the board. Notebooks and Desktops alike that have the same hardware can share the same images, and with a good image engineer, you can have the drivers install automatically.

Third, do not skip over using the utilities and drivers that the manufacturer supplies. I have seen MSCE?s trip over them trying to figure out problems with systems writing it off to bad hardware when it was an install of the motherboard drivers. These utilities and drivers in many cases come installed directly from the company, and are updated on a daily basis from the manufacturer, and can mean the system running like a 486 or running at blazing speeds.

Fourth, standardize applications across all platforms so that you can reduce your licensing and support costs. We have two groups here; Information developers and administrative folks. Both groups get the same basic applications, but the ID folks get applications that allow them to do their job. The licensing is kept track of in a database since most if not all of the software that tracks licenses tend to cause problems that cause our technicians more work then necessary.

Fifth, communicate with users that they are responsible for the security of the system. You can place security policies on the system with passwords, profiles, and a multitude of other items, but they like to install web shots and other freeware that can contain spy ware. While updating the antivirus from the vendor is a best practice over trying to do it internally, the extra things that the users like to install can interfere with the system in that it causes more work than needed.
Sixth, implement a ?reload after X amount of time? policy where the systems are reloaded after a certain amount of time to troubleshoot the system. While technical support personnel are a commodity, you waste it when they are at a workstation attempting to fix a problem that has taken them 2 hours to fix, when it takes 15 minutes to restore a system. We generally limit calls to no more than an hour and fifteen minutes before we require a system reload.

Last, keep metrics & ask users their opinions. We had a problem with customer satisfaction and did the mistake of ?The complaint wasn?t about the problem, so it does not count,? and found that the complaint was valid, and it did count. It is the lazy way to avoid fixing something that is broken. Do not send out a survey just to ignore it with questions that are not important. Put in questions that are important, and where your customers can expand on their ideas of creating a better organization. We all too often see companies, departments, divisions, and nearly every aspect being transformed, but you never see why, here is why, your not keeping track of what is going on until it is too late, so you can?t correct it when it needs to be corrected.

With the large number of employees that you may have, you will find that making minor changes saves the company more money than making a huge jolt. Also, as a manager, you have to get out of the quarter reporting structure, since your weakest support quarter is always December. If you even out everything over the year like you do when you go bowling, then you have much a better idea as to where you are and what you need to do in January than you do when you look at them every three months.

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