The benefits of a face to face business is like no other; however in today’s dynamics it is becoming more troublesome, expensive and time consuming every day. On the clients’ side, waiting for you to arrive may mean serious disruptions to their business and can make people really upset in a very short time. That’s why offering remote support to your clients can be really beneficial to you and your business. Here are my personal reasons to offer remote support.
First of all, remote support is efficient and cost effective. For the on site visits, you have to get to the client somehow, whether it will be your own car or public transport. If you are living in a crowded city (I live in Istanbul, one of the most overcrowded cities in the world), that means the time you are spending during the transport is time lost. You lose this time because it is not billable. In addition, there is a strong probability that the time you spend fixing the problem is shorter than the time it takes you to go there and come back; who hasn’t spent 1 hour of drive just to check an option?
In the above scenario, consider the amount you saved in transport: wear, tear, gas if you used your car or the amount you have paid for the transport. Plus, most probably you will need to eat outside. And once you are out, you need to check e-mails and make phone calls which you will be spending from your mobile carrier contract. For one day, these costs are OK, but if you add them up, you will notice that they are a lot.
As an IT support professional, we also need to multi-task sometimes: there is often no need to monitor the progress bar for an installation, which is known to take some time. When the bar is progressing on its own, we can turn our attention to smaller tasks which we can either start, or in some cases even complete. Although that is a nice thing, there is a hidden catch: when we are multitasking, some tasks take longer than normal. We have to manage the time properly and must not bill the clients for this additional time. We must be fair.
There is also the benefit of working after hours when there is the absolute need, such as updates and patches. There are also times when the client asks to complete some tasks specifically when they are not in the office. Remote connection is the solution.
Further, there is the issue of working from home. I am a big fan of working at home, at my own pace, in a safe environment (yes, I love to be at home, I am homo domesticus). When I work from home, I find myself to be way efficient than working in the client. No security clearances, no politeness asking for another tea, no discomfort of taking someone’s desk. Just sit down, relax and work.
If we look at remote support from the client’s perspective, there are also many benefits for them. First, they have faster response times. There is the failing system, a disruption of work and the client waits for you to arrive. Or, you get connected to the systems and start working immediately. I haven’t seen any client who does not prefer fast connections to the on site visits; at least they are paying you for your services, not for your coffee talks.
Then, there is a delicate issue about the consultants: clients are almost always not happy with the people outside the organization. This could be bad timing, not being able to schedule properly, or some other reason. Even if you have just started your consultancy and have visited even a handful of companies, you should have felt this, umm, “uncomfortable karma.” Since you are expected to do your best in this environment, it just becomes more “pressing.” Sometimes the issue escalates more and you, as a consultant, are unwanted. I have clients who told me that explicitly: “Tolga, rather than working with us during the business hours, why don’t you come after we leave.” You can come after people leave. Remotely.
Although remote support offers many benefits for both the clients and the consultants, I cannot say that everything can be handled remotely. And I am not talking about the working with the physical infrastructure. Rather, I am talking about the “face to face” business, which is essentially your business network. Remote connection sometimes make people so lazy to forget that they are working with “real people”, with whom need interaction. Don’t fall into that trap and make on site visits to your clients when you have the time. Better, schedule them.