How vendors can navigate the challenges of remote support

Way back in 2018, we conducted a survey that found that for every technology vendor there are 239 customers who rely on their support. Sure, you're probably thinking that 2018 happened so long ago that you don't even remember what was going on before then, right? Well, since that study and since 2018, more companies have moved their support functions (and a ton of other departments, including HR) to remote vendors, contractors, and third parties. So whether that number is at 239 still today or more, that's a lot of people depending on your services - many of which are critical for their company's operations. Not only do they rely on your services, but they're also going to rely on the fact that you're going to take security and compliance seriously because we all know how often breaches that are connected to the access a vendor has plagued the news and continue to make headlines (we're not not talking about SolarWinds...). The complexities associated with being a vendor for larger enterprise networks can easily strain the customer-vendor remote support relationship, and you may find yourself losing sleep at night. While navigating this ever-changing terrain is challenging, doing so is essential to the health and longevity of your customer relationships. And, if you're using a remote support solution that maybe isn't the most secure or the most efficient, we promise you that you're not alone. A lot of the time, remote support tools can either be secure or it can be efficient-- not always both. However, with the right solution in place, you can eliminate many of your biggest pain points while simultaneously improving client satisfaction. A total win-win solution if you ask us. As a technology vendor, your priorities are clear: deliver superior service, keep customer information secure, minimize risk and liability when providing remote support, and stay on top of any customer issues that may arise. But how do you achieve these goals in light of their respective challenges?

Standardize your remote support tools

Taking a good, hard look at your technology is an important first step. Nearly 50% of technology vendors are using three or more remote support solutions. This adds an unnecessary layer of entanglement to an already complex process. Standardizing or streamlining your remote support solution can go a long way towards helping you overcome some of your biggest pain points. And with only 29% of vendors using a single remote access solution, there's definitely room for improvement. Standardization can help in many areas, but the big ones include:

  • Shoring up gaps in remote support tools like VPNs to increase security
  • Meeting compliance requirements that are important to your customers
  • Increasing efficiencies to reduce time to resolution
  • Lowering IT support costs
  • Protecting your reputation and your customer's revenue

Reducing time to resolution leads to lower costs

For a support team, downtime is painful. Your goal is to increase productivity and decrease the time it takes to resolve an issue. When you have a standardized remote support solution, you’re able to understand problems quickly and fix them fast. However, improving uptime demands a couple of key capabilities:

  • Automate routine processes: Automating tasks like gathering log files and system information helps your company scale by reducing time to resolution.
  • Monitoring customer systems: Health checks are critical in order to catch impending faults. This allows you to streamline support and dedicate fewer resources per issue.

These two features reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary infrastructure and freeing IT management to focus on product improvements and growth.

Understand compliance

82% of vendors surveyed cited complying with customer security requirements as their top priority. Reviewing your own company's policies and procedures is essential to securing and managing customer data, especially since many regulatory agencies are levying stricter penalties for noncompliance. Learn your company's security protocols. Make sure that employees, including contractors, are educated on them and receive the appropriate training on how to uphold them. Having a clear roadmap for compliance will help make you better prepared to battle security attacks from multiple fronts - a growing threat in light of the exponential growth in the number of IoT devices.

Minimize liability

Analysts predict that liability and risk management will become an increasingly contentious point in vendor-customer relationships. A study by the Opus & Ponemon Institute found that at least 56% of respondents have experienced a third-party data breach. Hackers often go for the weakest link in the supply chain and that often means you, the vendor. But you can reduce your liability in the event of a security breach with a secure and auditable access trail - one that holds up even when your team provides remote technical support to clients. However, if your client wants a feature or service that's outside of your normal offerings, consider a new contract or liability clause to account for the additional risk.