The Trend in IT – Personalized Customer Care through Field Support

In recent years, many corporations centralized their dispersed IT service providers like consulting services or support units. The current technologies and networking capabilities allow the support of users via remote access and the monitoring of the systems via central monitoring systems.

The only choice a user now has is to contact the central helpdesk, which is not really a choice. More than a few companies even outsourced the IT helpdesk to a service provider in a foreign country because of cost considerations.

But there are IT issues that cannot be solved at all or only inadequately from afar. The attempt to do this anyway often leads to poor solutions that employees then simply try to live with.

Not many companies today offer training courses for standard software applications since this knowledge is assumed and expected to gain employment. But IT competencies are-contrary to foreign language skills-verified only rarely in the course of the recruitment process. Also frequently forgotten are employees who have been working at the company for many years and never benefited from continued training in the field of IT applications. Statistical data show that these employees in most cases possess only rudimentary skills to be able to perform their jobs effectively. These individuals are usually not comfortable to come forward and admit that their expertise is not on the level that is expected or required for their job. Here a trusted contact person that is familiar with IT issues can help to meet this challenge. A centralized helpdesk is usually unable to do this.

Both inadequately solved IT problems as well as insufficient IT expertise of employees lead to a reduction in work performance, which has to be compensated and should not be played down. A good number of companies have recognized this need already and have taken measures to again partially decentralize their IT support. This is done not only to avoid losing know-how but primarily to ensure professional customer support. Notwithstanding all technical possibilities, it is the human element that performs the work…and the work is getting increasingly more complex, more extensive as well as more business-critical. The trend to a professional “Field Support” pursues two new objectives: ensuring the high availability of the IT systems at all locations in addition to providing efficient customer service. And Field Support is the crucial link between the users and the information technology at the lowest level. To this end, the most critical points of the IT operation are identified specifically where the workload occurs and can thereby be corrected. It has been established that an effective Field Support can increase the internal customer satisfaction by up to 35%. This is only one piece of evidence that this trend is worth considering on many levels and should not just be looked at from a cost perspective.

The techniques and tools of a centralized IT already cover and solve a large number of possible issues, but they cannot be a substitute for personal contact and therefore cannot dismantle barriers. The vital link that Field Support constitutes takes on this task and closes the gap in professional customer service offerings between users, business analysts, senior management and account managers.

Another essential benefit of the Field Support is that it functions as an extension of the IT: to replace hardware, inspect cables or install an access point – all tasks that otherwise would have to be completed by a person that would first have to be found and then have to perform all of these tasks.

From a strategic standpoint the development of a Field Support is most certainly not part of many corporate objectives, since these are primarily concerned with cost reduction. However, the productivity of the in the majority of cases most expensive and in every case most important asset of a company-the employee-should nevertheless be an important performance indicator for the decision makers and should support the consideration, if a Field Support in combination with a centralized IT operation could not be a worthwhile investment.

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