5 remote IT support mistakes to avoid

Andrew Tabona

Providing remote IT support can be a challenge. People in satellite, multi-floor or multi-building offices can often feel like they are the forgotten souls of the organization. Their perception of tech support is – unfortunately – often not a positive one, which leads to a strained relationship between IT and the business.

When you don’t have an IT body on the ground, your ability to provide remote IT support is critical. Here are five mistakes you should avoid when providing support to geographically dispersed teams.

mistakesNot being proactive enough
Planning is imperative. Since you are not there to do the firefighting in person, you need to make sure you have the proper foundations in place to limit the impact of an IT issue. If you don’t invest the time to ensure there is a solid structure in place and processes that are understood and rehearsed, then you are only creating more work for yourself and the team in the long-term.

As a minimum, users in the remote office should be taught how to use the different technologies available to them (this might include providing documentation such as quick reference guides or FAQs), know how to ask for support, and what to do in certain scenarios.

Forgetting basic customer service skills
To remote workers, you are often just a voice on the telephone or a name on an email, which makes it harder to build a good rapport quickly. However, following some basic customer service tips can go a long way in demonstrating integrity and reliability and helping to build a lasting relationship.

My recommendation is to set expectations, follow through and then follow up.

  • Set expectations – Inform the user of what you think the problem is, how long it might take to resolve and what the next steps are.
  • Follow through – Follow through on the expectations you set to resolve the problem within the given timeframe or get back to them with an update.
  • Follow up – Post issue resolution, send a follow up e-mail or make a call to check in with the user to see how things are going and if there is anything else you can do to help.

It is also worth being conscious and respectful of the culture and possible language barrier of the office you are supporting. Being polite, patient and able to adapt and adjust the tone, pitch and speed of your voice, as well as the structure and chosen words in your email communications are important skills to have.

Not using a remote IT support tool
Probably the most important aspect of remote IT support is the ability to take control of a user’s machine. This allows you to perform an action to resolve an issue within minutes that could have taken hours over the phone or if it required travel for an on-site visit.

A remote IT support tool can be a real time saver and allows you to provide a faster, more responsive service. Additionally, being able to take action outside of business hours for those smaller issues that do not require immediate attention adds more value to the service you provide.

Neglecting the importance of loan machines
When an issue arises on a user’s machine and it can’t be fixed within an acceptable time frame, you need to provide something temporarily to keep them working until their original machine is available again.

Having a desktop or laptop set up and configured that users can quickly login to is extremely useful for break/fix scenarios or for when, for example, someone forgets their laptop at home and needs to borrow one for the day.

This ‘loaner machine’ (as it is sometimes called) might not have all the role-specific applications needed by the user, but it should at least have the essentials and give them access to email, Microsoft Office-like applications, Internet and shared drives.

Not having ‘intelligent hands’ on-site
Unless you have an agreement in place with an external IT contractor who can come in to the office at a moment’s notice, you need someone in each office location who can be your ‘intelligent hands’. This person doesn’t necessarily need to have an IT background, but should be able to take physical action when required. For example, you might need them to swap out a hard drive, replace a broken monitor, or switch network ports in the server room to help resolve an issue.