The Call-First Conundrum: Rethinking Tech Support Efficiency

The Call-First Conundrum: Rethinking Tech Support Efficiency


It’s a familiar scene for many of us dealing with tech support: you hit a snag with a service, you put in the effort to explain it all in a support ticket, and then you wait, expecting that someone will take it from there. Instead, you get asked to set up a phone call. Aligning schedules for this call can stretch the whole process by days or weeks.

When you finally get on the line, you often repeat the information you’ve already given. If your ticket gets stuck with someone out of the office, it just sits there, leaving you wondering if there’s a better way to handle things. Couldn’t the next available person take a look instead of waiting?

I get that the personal touch of a phone call can be nice, but when you’re after quick solutions, it can feel like a step backward. So, what’s the balance here? How do we keep the human element but ensure it doesn’t slow us down?

A-Side: Engineering the Support Experience

In the trenches of product support, the reality is that most issues don’t need a back-and-forth marathon; a couple of emails will do the trick. That’s held true for about 85% of the tickets in my queue, at least. My approach? I don’t just skim the problem; I dive into it. I take every word and attachment and piece together the puzzle with knowledge sources; if possible, I replicate the issue myself. A bit of diligence goes a long way to ensure any responses are pointed and purposeful when I reach out.

Most tech support issues are a puzzle that can be solved with careful analysis and targeted communication, often bypassing the need for lengthy calls.

But here’s the twist in the narrative: my role with a well-known cybersecurity company frequently pushed me to take calls for what many would consider straightforward tasks, like setting up a virtual machine or deploying our software across networks. These sessions were eye-opening, revealing a surprising truth: many clients, even those at the helm of large corporations, grapple with the fundamentals of their own tech infrastructure.

Such gaps necessitated a guided, step-by-step approach from us, transforming what should be simple fixes into extended screen-sharing tutorials. And it’s not just a handful of cases—this is a widespread scenario. Walking the giants of the industry through basic procedures is sobering; it serves as a reminder that the obstacles often attributed to smaller entities are just as entrenched in the upper echelons of business.

This pattern isn’t merely about providing support; it’s a glimpse into the symbiotic relationship between customer and technician, demonstrating an essential truth: the complexity of issues doesn’t correlate with the size of a company. Whether they’re navigating small ventures or steering large enterprises, the need for clear, accessible support remains a constant.

B-Side: Navigating the Maze of Vendor Support as an IT Provider

The cycle is almost comical in its predictability: you submit a support ticket on behalf of your client, and like clockwork, you receive a prompt acknowledgment—a tick in the box for the vendor’s SLA compliance—and then, the waiting game ensues. My encounters with vendors like Okta, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others tend to follow a script: ignore the written detailsopt for voicemails that pile up, and orchestrate a ballet of schedule coordination, even when scheduling tools like Calendly are at our fingertips.

Then there’s the single-engineer bottleneck. Case in point: my recent run-in with an Okta engineer on the brink of vacation, leaving our urgent matters hanging until his return—no handover, no delegation. Their out-of-office message might as well read, “Your IT crisis will have to wait.” The irony is that we don’t have a dedicated engineer at Okta; we’d gladly work with anyone willing to take the reins. This disconnect between our need for swift resolution and their individual capacity constraints is stark.

In vendor support, efficiency is often sacrificed on the altar of process, where delays follow swift acknowledgments, and the promise of help becomes a waiting game.

And what about the support process itself? There’s an overreliance on ‘live‘ troubleshooting over calls, a strategy that seems designed more for the convenience of the support team than for efficiency or efficacy. It’s as if they’re navigating the product alongside the customer for the first time, employing a “Human Information Gatherer” role where clarifying questions, data capture tools, and decision trees could expedite the process.

In this bizarre world of support, a ticket can become a victim of the support structure itself, floating aimlessly through a system that prioritizes calls over closure, causing days of delays—days where no actual support work gets done. The result? A mounting backlog, frustration on all fronts, and a glaring question: when will these vendors realize that the measure of good support isn’t how quickly they respond but how effectively they resolve?

The Premier Support Curtain

There’s an open secret in the tech support world: what’s often sold as ‘Premium‘ might be standard service in a shinier package. You might pay top dollar for the promise of a rapid response from companies like Okta, only to be redirected to the same third-party support teams that have notoriously been linked to security mishaps. So, what are you really buying? A quicker greeting, perhaps, but not necessarily the swift resolution you were hoping for.

Beneath the veneer of ‘Premier Support’ lies a stark reality: a quicker acknowledgment from support teams doesn’t guarantee a faster resolution to your technical woes.

When you’re shelling out for premier support, you expect—and deserve—a dedicated team of specialists, not the same crew with a stopwatch. The real measure of premium isn’t just how fast they pick up the phone; it’s about how effectively they can get you back on track without the run-around. Ensure your support investment is an upgrade, not just a faster ticket to the same old process.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Support Fusion

The road ahead is paved with Actual and Artificial Intelligence, seamlessly integrated with empowering Automation. As these elements evolve, we focus on crafting a future where technology augments human capabilities rather than replaces them. It’s about equipping clients and teams with synergistic tools, ensuring our strategies are driven by success and centered on the user experience.

The road ahead is paved with Actual and Artificial Intelligence, seamlessly integrated with empowering Automation.

Consider the transformative impact of automation in the onboarding and offboarding processes: by automatically creating accounts and setting up computers, we not only streamline these critical first steps but also liberate human resources to focus on a more personal welcome—shifting away from the repetitive digital labor of enrolling new employees into the network.

Finding the right balance between automated tools and human support is key. We’re not looking to replace people with AI – we’re integrating it to enhance teamwork.

Envision a support system where:

  1. Device data is automatically collected when errors occur, streamlining integration with our support and technology management platforms.
  2. Users self-resolve frequent issues without an admin’s intervention, using a platform that grants them on-demand access to trusted software and maintenance tools.
  3. A step-by-step interactive guide aids users in diagnosing and learning from common problems, with automation simulating the assistance of a live technician.

It’s not about AI dominating the support role; it’s about identifying trends, such as a rise in similar user issues or recurring unsolved problems. The right tool doesn’t just wait for detailed tickets –it helps create them by asking the right questions and calming users down so we can get to the heart of the issue faster.

Streamlining Support: A Practical Vision

The ultimate goal in the evolving tech support landscape is to harmonize AI sophistication with the human element to streamline the support experience. The aim is not merely to respond but to resolve efficiently and empathetically. As we chart the course forward, the emphasis must be on enhancing the synergy between technology and technicians, ensuring premium support transcends mere promptness to deliver swift, effective solutions.

The future of support lies not just in quicker responses but in smarter resolutions and a steadfast commitment to excellence that truly embodies the ‘premium’ in premier support packages.

Let’s embrace the tools and tactics that preempt problems, expedite fixes, and, above all, treat every interaction not just as a ticket to be closed but as an opportunity to excel in service. The future of support is not just about quicker responses but smarter resolutions and a commitment to excellence that genuinely reflects the ‘premium’ in premier support packages.