12 min read
Dec 5, 2017

[RESEARCH] Ask the IT Crowd: The surprising benefits of remote support

We surveyed nearly 200 IT and customer support agents to get their thoughts on the support process and found some surprising benefits of remote support.

Suzie BlaszkiewiczContent Analyst

Whether you’re on the giving or the receiving end of technical support, it’s not always easy to get your message across. Despite seemingly countless ways for support agents to communicate with customers and clients, it can still be a drag to figure out exactly what’s causing the problem, and how to fix it.

There are countless studies detailing the importance of a good support experience from the customer perspective, but I was curious about the support agents on the other end of these requests. I wanted to find out their thoughts on the support experience. Customer frustration can lead to agent frustration, which results in lower levels of service and satisfaction for both parties.

To get some insight from the support agent perspective, we surveyed nearly 200 IT and customer support agents to get their thoughts on the support process. As it turns out, support agents prefer remote support over other channels for solving client and customer requests. Remote support involves the agent taking over the requester’s computer and solving the problem for them in real time, and while it may not be your first choice when it comes to support, it might actually be the best option.

In the report below, I’ll go through the findings of the research to show the benefits of remote support and why it could be the best way to keep both your support agents and your clients satisfied.

*For this report, customer and client will be used interchangeably to refer to the person requesting remote support, which can include individuals within the same organization.

Key findings:

  • Remote support is the most preferred channel for carrying out support requests by nearly 30 percent of agents surveyed, followed by live chat, and phone support.

  • 31 percent of support agents say that remote support makes it easier to understand the issue or request.

  • 34 percent of support agents prefer remote support because it's the quickest way of solving support requests, with 73 percent of support requests being resolved on the same day the request was issued.

  • Unrealistic expectations from clients for getting an issues resolved and technical issues involving the setup of the remote session are two of the biggest challenges in delivering efficient remote support.

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Remote support helps avoid frustration

Providing support is a process that– depending on which channel it’s being delivered on– ranges in both speed, accuracy, and level of customer satisfaction. Between the time that a client reaches out, until the moment that a problem gets solved, things can get complicated. When a problem or a solution can’t be communicated accurately, the result is frustration from both ends.

According to our research, remote support helps avoid some of that frustration. As the most preferred method of support delivery by 29.6 percent of support agents, the reason it helps avoid frustration is threefold:

  • According to 34 percent of agents, it's the best support method for solving issues more quickly, eliminating the back and forth associated with troubleshooting a problem. One survey respondent said they prefer remote support "because I can do it faster than when I talk with the customer."

  • Along the same lines, 31 percent of agents surveyed said that remote support makes it easier to understand the support request because it literally allows them to take control of the situation and find the root of the issue. According to one survey respondent, "I choose remote support as I can have the visibility on the cause of the problem as compared to phone and email." Another respondent says they prefer remote support "because I can directly see what's happening and interact with the machine like I was there personally."

  • Remote support, as a support method, allows for less "face-time" with a client, which for support agents, means less probability of dealing with irate clients. Having this pseudo-barrier between the client and agent while still letting the agent solve the issue allows for a quicker and speedier resolution. As one surveyor bluntly admits, they prefer remote support because "I don't have to see or speak to anyone in person and it is lovely." Another respondent feels the same, saying, "it allows the least amount of direct communication between two parties."

Notably, our survey shows that 60 percent of respondents most commonly use remote support for handling support issues that need to be resolved quickly, and considering the level of frustration that an unexpected support issue can elicit from a client, having a timely response and swift resolution is a top priority.

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Setting the right expectations for support delivery

Despite being the quickest way to solve a support issue, clients need to be aware of just how immediate an “immediate” resolution can be. According to our survey, 73 percent of remote support requests are resolved within a day; of those, 34 percent are resolved within a few hours.

Having said that, if a client is expecting the problem to be solved immediately, even a day can seem like a long time. Speaking with Carlos Tejada, a cyber security expert and founder of managed IT service company LKBM Technologies, he says, “when clients run into real problems, they often want the problem looked at and fixed immediately but tend to rush the reparation and recovery process. They have unrealistic expectations that troubleshooting and fixing a problem takes a few minutes and become impatient and upset when it actually takes longer.”

“To minimize and prevent frustrations, we ensure that the clients know what to expect by communicating clearly the recovery and troubleshooting process. We also find that it’s helpful to underpromise and overdeliver providing enough cushion in our repair time estimation and over deliver by finishing the job sooner than expected.”

As our survey notes, unrealistic time expectations are one of the biggest challenges with delivering remote support, and being proactive about setting expectations is one way to counterbalance that.

While security and privacy issues from clients are the biggest challenges noted by respondents, this is generally due to a lack of technical knowledge from the client’s side. With secure software and the proper measures in place, security and privacy fears can easily be alleviated by the support agent. Another big challenge, which involves technical issues involving the setup of the remote session, can also be minimized with the right software.

Speaking to Bob Herman, Co-Founder and President of IT service firm IT Tropolis, he says, “I think one of the biggest challenges is the user experience in setting up the remote session. If users need to download/install a plugin/component/app, we find the complication can become confusing for the user and consume too much time for the agent. To overcome this issue, we have standardized on a remote support tool that allows our agents to easily and quickly connect to a user’s session, and all the user must do is allow/accept the request. As a result, we can start a session in seconds.”

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Finding the right support software

Having the right remote support software helps to ensure that you’re able to set up remote sessions quickly, manage the support queue, and connect on various platforms. When looking for a remote support solution, you should consider whether it:

  • Offers easy setup and installation for both the support department and especially for the client.

  • Provides the ability to share multiple screens and files.

  • Provides end-user control during the remote session to ensure privacy and security, including which application the administrator can view, control, or monitor.

  • Supports multiple platforms including Windows, PC, and mobile devices.

  • Has monitoring and reporting features to monitor remote sessions and report on average wait times and session length, among others important usage statistics.

  • Integrates with service desk or help desk ticketing system like Zendesk or Freshdesk to manage support requests.

Compare some popular remote support software options to see what’s available for your needed feature set and price range.

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Remote support isn't a remote option

Remote support may not be right for every type of support request, but the benefits of remote support are certainly apparent in various situations, not the least of which is avoiding frustration during the support process.

  • Remote support provides agents with the quickest way to solve support requests that require immediate attention, giving agents more visibility into the problem while minimizing client/agent interaction to the benefit of both parties.

  • Setting the right expectations in terms of service delivery will reduce the client frustration associated with issues not being resolved in a presumably timely manner.

  • Having the right software can ensure that technical issues involving the setup of the remote session are kept at a minimum, further speeding up the time it takes to resolve an issue.

If you think that remote support might be a good option for your company, check out some of these remote support software options to get you started.


This research is based on a survey of 197 respondents who work in an IT or customer support role with remote support being one of the top three channels on which they carry out support requests. The survey was carried out in November 2017.

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