Until COVID-19 forced professionals out of their offices, interest in walk-up tech bar service had grown dramatically in just the past few years. Increasing numbers of companies and college campuses were setting up “genius bar” type centers where employees and/or students could get technical issues resolved, face to face with an expert.
As noted here previously, the share of organizations offering tech bar support grew from 35% in 2017 to 49% in 2019. It was expected to cross the 50% mark early this year. And then the pandemic emerged, and vast swaths of professional workers were sent home to work.
Organizations were embracing the face to face model because it improved user satisfaction and reduced down time. But what are companies and campuses going to do now that “live, face-to-face” support is not what you want to provide to employees or students?
Workers and students still need personalized tech support in order to remain productive. They actually need it now more than ever as they wrestle with remote conferencing software, new data security concerns, and other unfamiliar issues.
Face to face is out. But here’s how the same principles, and technology, can be applied in order to offer your now-remote workforce a similar experience through a “virtual tech bar.”
Just as with a physical tech bar, workers or students can schedule appointments to discuss their issues. Based on the type of issue, tech bar software can assure the right type of expert is available and automatically block off sufficient time to solve the problem. It’s just that the “face-to-face” meeting is now done via Zoom, Skype, or a Google Hangout rather than live and in person.
For thorny issues, tech support specialists can use real-time chat and file sharing to request help from their colleagues. Because it’s all done online, there’s no geographic limitation on who they call pull in to help resolve the user’s issue.
When collaborating on a complex issue, a tech bar staffer can create sub-tasks, assign them to other teams or individuals, and track progress. The people working on those sub-tasks can join the collaboration discussion. A service technician may open an established workflow process and add additional sub-tasks, creating an ad hoc workflow to fix what’s wrong.
Business professionals and students working from home—particularly parents of young children—are likely to need technical help outside of “normal business hours.” Tech bar software makes it easy to track activity and schedule service professionals for odd and extended hours. This enables employees and students to be productive whenever their “work time” happens to be.
Instant, Actionable Feedback
Some of the support processes that worked well in live, face to face settings may need to be adjusted or even redesigned for virtual support. The ability for users to provide instant, constructive feedback helps support professionals to optimize processes for the remote setting..
ITSM systems aren’t ideal for scheduling service appointments, but organizations may want to track incidents in their ticketing or ITSM system. Tech bar software can manage the service ticketing or integrate with in-place systems for tracking and reporting purposes.
Employees and students working from home will encounter problems beyond technical issues. A virtual tech bar can enable workers and students to schedule appointments with human resources professionals, professors, and anyone else in the organization who can help resolve issues within their functional areas.
Getting the right technology and processes in place with your virtual tech bar will help smooth the transition (or return) to live walk-up service once everyone is able to return to the office and classroom. Both service providers and service users will be comfortable with personalized service, and will welcome the opportunity to experience it in person.