5 Remote Support Tools for Small Business
Photo by angela7.
In today’s increasingly competitive business environment, there is tremendous pressure on organizations to offer quick and effective customer support. This is not only an important approach to achieving a high level of customer satisfaction, but also a way to potentially cut time spent on dealing with problems that could otherwise be solved in a quick and organized manner. As a self-employed entrepreneur competing in the IT industry, I’ve come to realize that the most effective and time-saving way to deal with most of my customers’ issues is by offering remote support.
Providing technical support from the comfort of the office allows me to resolve nearly 80% of all technical issues encountered, and subsequently saves the time and money which would otherwise be spent on going on-site to tend to minor issues such as updating a customer’s settings or installing required software onto their machines. Clearly, not all issues could be resolved remotely and on-site visits are still required ever so often; however, the use of remote desktop software has clearly reduced my costs and increased customer satisfaction due to the quick response time.
Today’s remote desktop services come in a wide scope of price-ranges, levels of functionality, and installation requirements, thus making their implementation dependent on a number of factors such as the company’s budget and security guidelines. As a result, this industry brings together large and small businesses alike, allowing them to compete and provide technical support to their customers without necessarily having access to a large resource base. I’ll talk about some of the tools which are currently available on the market and which I’ve had the ability to personally test. Specifically, I’ll discuss VNC, iRemotePC, Techinline, Teamviewer, and LogMeIn Rescue
One of the most well-recognized remote access tools is the open-source VNC, the code of which has been used by other services such as Crossloop, Glance, and iRemotePC. VNC, however, does not work well for anything less than a broadband connection. The main limitation found in this service is the fact that it may require advanced NAT, firewall, and router configuration for the connection to go through, which is a significant drawback when dealing with computer-illiterate customers. Clearly, this reduces the value of VNC for companies which seek to considerably reduce on-site visits and therefore implement something that is easier to setup and use.
Another tool available is iRemotePC, which is web-based and is a very reasonable $30 per month or $300 for the entire year. However, the connection process is still awkward since it requires your client to download software onto their machine in order to establish the connection between the two parties. In comparison to some of the other services on the market, it is rather slow and not too user-friendly.
Clearly, the most effective and valuable remote access tools are the ones which make the connection process as easy as possible, while reducing or eliminating altogether the need for installing or downloading any additional software. Three services which undoubtedly fall into this category are Teamviewer, Techinline, and LogMeIn Rescue.
Probably the easiest tool to use and explain to the customer is Techinline, a web-based service which does not require any installation whatsoever on either end. All the remote user has to do is open a page in their browser, get a randomly generated number which you enter on your end, and the connection is established. The service is very rationally priced at $30 per month or $300 for the entire year of unlimited service, and it can also be purchased on a ìpay-as-you-goî basis. This is very convenient for people who do not provide remote support on a daily basis. Techinline also offers a few neat features such as not only remoting into someone else’s computer, but also sharing control of your desktop with the other party, thus making the session ìbidirectionalî. Major limitations of Techinline that I found were the inability to support Mac and Linux systems as well as the absence of some additionally useful features.
Another good product on the market is Teamviewer. Although the connection process is not as simple as Techinline’s, it still is very easy: both users have to start the Teamviewer service and the customer enters a number provided by their tech in order to initiate the remote connection. Teamviewer works cross-platform, allows you to transfer files between computers, as well as supports unattended access, thus making it a very advanced remote support tool. At the same time, however, the main drawback is their complicated and confusing pricing structure which may require constant upgrading and could cost anywhere from $60 to $100 a month for unlimited use.
The ìheavyweightî of all remote access tools is LogMeIn, and in particular, the LogMeIn Rescue product, which is their most reasonably priced service and the most balanced based on cost and functionality. There’s just about nothing that cannot be done with this service; it is fully customizable, works cross-platform, has the ability to automatically reboot into a running session, and even supports Smart Phones! The process of connecting is also simple and fast, and there is no need to install any software on either machine. The main constraint of LogMeIn Rescue is the fact that it is priced at over $110 on a monthly basis and over a $1000 for the entire year. As a result, this service is out of my reach, and I am sure many small businesses would agree with me that it is often better to opt out for something less comprehensive, yet more cost-effective.
I’ve found that running a small technical support company entails performing generally straightforward tasks such as adjusting settings and explaining how something works to my computer-illiterate clients. I don’t have a need for audio and video recording or other advanced features and therefore could do without the fully-featured, yet high-priced services. My main criteria was ease of use for my customers, customization options, and reasonable pricing. Based on these factors, I chose Techinline since I found it to offer the simplest method of connecting, as well as the needed level of functionality, thus making it a true ìbang for the buckî.
At the same time, there is no all-around winner and there are plenty of tools to choose from based on a number of factors, mainly the company’s budget, helpdesk size, the need to provide remote support, and the tasks which are to be incurred. Clearly, to a medium or large size business with a hefty budget, I would recommend LogMeIn Rescue which is second to none in terms of functionality. Therefore, please take into consideration what is truly needed before making the final decision.