What Is User Support? (And Why Do I Need It?)

The computer industry sees a never-ending series of changes. If you’re not up to date with the latest news, you could be risking cyber attacks, viruses, and other threats. Not to mention having to constantly learn new things to know how to operate and maintain the latest equipment and software.

If you’re not a “techie” and just want to be able to use technology to make your life easier, this might seem like a lot of wasted effort. End-user support can help by letting you focus on what you need to get done while they worry about keeping up with the world of technology.

Let’s look at how user support specialists can help make your job easier.

System Maintenance and Upgrades

Computer, smartphone, and mobile device operating systems are constantly being updated. These updates sometimes add new features but more importantly, they patch security flaws in the software.

Keeping your software up to date is an important step to keeping your data safe but it can be complicated if you’re not an expert. End-user support technicians can handle these tasks for you during times you’re not using your devices so you have minimal downtime.

Technical Support

Technical support is another common task handled by support analysts. They may provide this service in-house or they might work through a third party that provides support via phone, email, or instant messaging.

This service can cover everything from how to do basic tasks with a computer to more complex jobs like installing hardware or developing apps. The key is to have support techs who know more about the topic than your typical users.

Diagnosing Problems

Helping fix problems is one thing but if you don’t know what’s causing the problem in the first place, it’s going to be hard to find the right solution. User support can help diagnose the cause of problems related to software, hardware, networking, and many other aspects of your technology stack.

Once the problem has been identified, they’ll be able to work with other support like manufacturers or infrastructure providers to find a solution. They’ll speak the same language so it will be easier for them to get the issue sorted out than it would for someone without that specialized knowledge.

Consulting With Staff and Management

User support can also help you find ways to streamline your business or remove roadblocks to the work you’re doing. They’ll consult with staff and management to find out how things are being done currently, what is causing problems or holding you back from reaching your goals, and where you would like to be.

Armed with that information, they can help create an IT strategy to help you reach your goals more effectively. This is another situation where they might need to connect with other companies or services to pull together all the resources you need.

Software Development

Full-blown application development may be a bit outside the scope of user support but they can help with some simple software development. This could include things like writing scripts to automate repetitive tasks or writing macros to make your employees’ work easier.

Mobile Device Management

User support technicians can help with more than just computers and laptops. Many companies have as many (or more) mobile devices as computers, between smartphones and tablets. While these devices may not be as complicated to use as a computer, they can still pose problems for end-users.

Support technicians can offer all the same services for mobile device users as they can for desktop and laptop users. Software updates, technical support, and consulting are just as important to your company’s mobile strategy.

Cybersecurity Services

Cybersecurity is one of the most critical factors in keeping your data and equipment safe from hackers and other threats. Any device that’s connected to the internet or shares files with anyone else is a potential target.

User support can help you keep your network and devices protected against attack. Antivirus/anti-malware software, network firewalls, and device management policies keep you safe along with end-user education.

Availability of End User Support

One of the decisions you’ll have to make when looking at user support services is what kind of availability you need. Do you need 24/7 access to a technician for technical support and other services or do you only need it during business hours? If only during business hours, is everyone in the same time zone, or do you need coverage across the country (or world)?

These decisions will impact how many support analysts you’ll need to work with as well as how much the services will cost.

Another factor in the cost is whether you pay on a case-by-case basis or you pay a monthly retainer for a certain number of hours of support each month.

If you have enough of a need, you might consider hiring in-house staff to support your users directly. This can be more costly once you consider salaries, insurance, benefits, and all the other costs of hiring employees.

Ongoing Training and Development

When looking for user support specialists, make sure they are keeping up to date with the latest technologies and industry news. Things can change quickly with new advances in technology and new security threats identified. Staying up to date is critical to be able to provide the best support.

If you’re hiring your own in-house IT staff to handle your support needs, you’ll need to factor this into your budget. They’re going to need time for personal development and you may need to pay for extra training.

Working with a third-party support service saves you from having to worry about these costs. The support technicians still need to receive the same development but the support services company will pay for it. You’ll be able to take advantage of the skilled support without the extra overhead.

Don’t Leave Your Users out in the Cold

When you’re running a business, it’s easy to lay the responsibility of managing technology at your employees’ feet. That’s not a good decision though. It puts extra stress on them, takes time away from their most important work, and could put your data and other resources at risk.

Instead, work with user support specialists. They’ll look after your employees’ technology problems so they can take care of your business.

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