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Technical support (abbreviated as tech support) is an advice
service Service may refer to: Activities :''(See the Religion section for religious activities)'' * Administrative service, a required part of the workload of university faculty * Civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of gove ...
provided, usually over the
phone A telephone is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic ...

phone
, to help people who have problems using a computer. Presently most large and mid-size companies have
outsourced
outsourced
their tech support operations. Many companies provide discussion boards for users of their products to interact; such forums allow companies to reduce their support costs without losing the benefit of customer feedback.


Outsourcing technical support

With the increasing use of technology in modern times, there is a growing requirement to provide technical support. Many organizations locate their technical support departments or
call centers A call centre ( Commonwealth spelling) or call center ( American spelling; see spelling differences) is a centralised office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of enquiries by telephone A telephone is a telecommunicatio ...
in countries or regions with lower costs.
Dell Dell is an American company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objecti ...

Dell
was amongst the first companies to outsource their technical support and customer service departments to India in 2001. There has also been a growth in companies specializing in providing technical support to other organizations. These are often referred to as MSPs (Managed Service Providers). For businesses needing to provide technical support,
outsourcing Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company hires another company to be responsible for a planned or existing activity that is or could be done internally, and sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm A company ...

outsourcing
allows them to maintain high availability of service. Such need may result from peaks in call volumes during the day, periods of high activity due to the introduction of new products or maintenance service packs, or the requirement to provide customers with a high level of service at a low cost to the business. For businesses needing technical support assets,
outsourcing Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company hires another company to be responsible for a planned or existing activity that is or could be done internally, and sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm A company ...

outsourcing
enables their core employees to focus more on their work in order to maintain productivity. It also enables them to utilize specialized personnel whose technical
knowledge base A knowledge base (KB) is a technology used to information storage, store complex structured data, structured and unstructured information used by a computer system. The initial use of the term was in connection with expert systems; which were the ...
and experience may exceed the scope of the business, thus providing a higher level of technical support to their employees.


Multi-level tech support

Technical support is often subdivided into tiers, or levels, in order to better serve a business or customer base. The number of levels a business uses to organize their technical support group is dependent on the business' needs regarding their ability to sufficiently serve their customers or users. The reason for providing a multi-tiered support system instead of one general support group is to provide the best possible service in the most efficient possible manner. Success of the organizational structure is dependent on the technicians' understanding of their level of responsibility and commitments, their customer response time commitments, and when to appropriately escalate an issue and to which level. A common support structure revolves around a three-tiered technical support system. Remote computer repair is a method for
troubleshooting Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc Ad hoc is a List of Latin phrases, Latin phrase meaning literally 'to this'. In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a sp ...

troubleshooting
software related problems via
remote desktop In computing, the term remote desktop refers to a software or operating system feature that allows a personal computer File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, wh ...
connections.


L1 Support

The first job of a Tier I specialist is to gather the customer's information and to determine the customer's issue by analyzing the symptoms and figuring out the underlying problem. When analyzing the symptoms, it is important for the
technician A technician is a worker in a field of technology who is proficient in the relevant skill and technique, with a relatively practical understanding of the theoretical principles. Specialisation The term technician covers many different specialisa ...

technician
to identify what the customer is trying to accomplish so that time is not wasted on "attempting to solve a symptom instead of a problem." Once identification of the underlying problem is established, the specialist can begin sorting through the possible solutions available. Technical support specialists in this group typically handle straightforward and simple problems while "possibly using some kind of knowledge management tool." This includes troubleshooting methods such as verifying
physical layer In the seven-layer OSI model The Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI model) is a that characterises and standardises the communication functions of a or computing system without regard to its underlying internal structure and technolo ...
issues, resolving username and password problems, uninstalling/reinstalling basic
software applications Application software (app for short) is Computer program, computing software designed to carry out a specific task other than one relating to the operation of the computer itself, typically to be used by end-users. Examples of an application softwa ...
, verification of proper hardware and software set up, and assistance with navigating around application menus. Personnel at this level have a basic to general understanding of the product or service and may not always contain the competency required for solving complex issues. Nevertheless, the goal for this group is to handle 70–80% of the user problems before finding it necessary to escalate the issue to a higher level.


L2 Support

Tier II (or Level 2, abbreviated as T2 or L2) is a more in-depth technical support level than Tier I and therefore costs more as the technicians are more experienced and knowledgeable on a particular product or service. It is synonymous with level 2 support, support line 2, administrative level support, and various other headings denoting advanced technical
troubleshooting Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc Ad hoc is a List of Latin phrases, Latin phrase meaning literally 'to this'. In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a sp ...

troubleshooting
and analysis methods.
Technicians A technician is a worker in a field of technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art techniques and materials, techniques, sk ...
in this realm of knowledge are responsible for assisting Tier I personnel in solving basic technical problems and for investigating elevated issues by confirming the validity of the problem and seeking for known solutions related to these more complex issues. However, prior to the
troubleshooting Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc Ad hoc is a List of Latin phrases, Latin phrase meaning literally 'to this'. In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a sp ...

troubleshooting
process, it is important that the technician review the work order to see what has already been accomplished by the Tier I technician and how long the technician has been working with the particular customer. This is a key element in meeting both the customer and business needs as it allows the technician to prioritize the troubleshooting process and properly manage their time. If a problem is new and/or personnel from this group cannot determine a solution, they are responsible for elevating this issue to the Tier III technical support group. In addition, many companies may specify that certain troubleshooting solutions be performed by this group to help ensure the intricacies of a challenging issue are solved by providing experienced and knowledgeable technicians. This may include, but is not limited to, onsite installations or replacement of various hardware components, software repair, diagnostic testing, or the utilization of remote control tools to take over the user's machine for the sole purpose of troubleshooting and finding a solution to the problem.


L3 Support

Tier III (or Level 3, abbreviated as T3 or L3) is the highest level of support in a three-tiered technical support model responsible for handling the most difficult or advanced problems. It is synonymous with level 3 support, 3rd line support, back-end support, support line 3, high-end support, and various other headings denoting expert level troubleshooting and analysis methods. These individuals are experts in their fields and are responsible for not only assisting both Tier I and Tier II personnel, but with the research and development of solutions to new or unknown issues. Note that Tier III technicians have the same responsibility as Tier II technicians in reviewing the work order and assessing the time already spent with the customer so that the work is prioritized and time management is sufficiently utilized. If it is at all possible, the
technician A technician is a worker in a field of technology who is proficient in the relevant skill and technique, with a relatively practical understanding of the theoretical principles. Specialisation The term technician covers many different specialisa ...

technician
will work to solve the problem with the customer as it may become apparent that the Tier I and/or Tier II technicians simply failed to discover the proper solution. Upon encountering new problems, however, Tier III personnel must first determine whether or not to solve the problem and may require the customer's contact information so that the technician can have adequate time to troubleshoot the issue and find a solution. It is typical for a developer or someone who knows the code or backend of the product, to be the Tier 3 support person. In some instances, an issue may be so problematic to the point where the product cannot be salvaged and must be replaced. Such extreme problems are also sent to the original developers for in-depth analysis. If it is determined that a problem can be solved, this group is responsible for designing and developing one or more courses of action, evaluating each of these courses in a test case environment, and implementing the best solution to the problem. While not universally used, a fourth level often represents an escalation point beyond the organization. L4 support is generally a hardware or software vendor.


Scams

A common scam typically involves a cold caller claiming to be from a technical support department of a company like
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multination ...

Microsoft
. Such cold calls are often made from
call center A call centre ( Commonwealth spelling) or call center ( American spelling; see spelling differences) is a centralised office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of enquiries by telephone. An inbound call centre is operated by a ...

call center
s based in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
to users in English-speaking countries, although increasingly these scams operate within the same country. The scammer will instruct the user to download a
remote desktop In computing, the term remote desktop refers to a software or operating system feature that allows a personal computer File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, wh ...
program and once connected, use social engineering techniques that typically involve
Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor