PC Hardware

Levels of Support

In an organization or corporate environment with a large number of computers and peripheral devices, it is often wise to separate support functions into several levels or categories. Depending on the size of the organization and the degree of knowledge of the end users, some technical support can be delegated or handled over the phone. By properly delegating responsibility for technical support, you can avoid being tied up with trivial problems, saving time for you and your end users.

Level 1: Designated, On-Site User

It is usually possible to designate someone within each department, or section, to handle simple technical-support questions. Find someone with a basic familiarity with computers and designate that individual as the key contact. They can handle many of the trivial problems that often plague inexperienced users (for instance, the computer/mouse/keyboard/printer is not plugged in) and can also handle basic maintenance (such as performing backups). By delegating these tasks locally, you can ensure that technical support will be available when more serious problems arise. You will also have a knowledgeable source onsite to be your eyes and ears.

How you apply this level of support will depend on your situation. If, for example, you are an independent consultant or working at a service desk for a computer supplier, you most likely will be dealing with the owner/user and this won't apply.

Level 2: Telephone Support

Handle as many problems as possible over the phone. Phone support offers the quickest solution to many common problems. In addition, by getting as much information about the problem as possible over the phone, you can be sure to have the right tools at hand and an appropriate plan if and when you arrive on the scene.

Level 3: On-Site Service

For those jobs that cannot be handled over the phone, you will need to decide whether to service the machine on-site or to bring it back to your own workspace. Consider these questions when making this decision:

  • Will your repairs interfere with your end user's work?
  • Will the end user's location interfere with your work?
  • Is the computer in a high-traffic area?
  • Is there a lot of activity in the area?
  • Will the end user want to help? (Also consider whether or not this would be a benefit.)
  • Do you have enough space to do the work?
If the work will take more than a few minutes, you might do better to take the machine back to your own workspace.