July 28, 2004 4:48 PM PDT

Survey: Tech support time costly

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Thirty-six percent of white-collar workers spend 30 minutes or more each week on the phone with their companies' technical support services, which costs businesses plenty, according to a new study.

The nationwide survey, sponsored by technology services company Siemens Business Services, found that another 20 percent of white-collar workers spend an hour or more on the phone with tech support each week. Five percent report being on the phone with the help desk for five hours or more each week.

Siemens estimated that a company of 5,000 white-collar employees is losing about $4.1 million annually on lost "direct-productivity" hours, as workers stop what they're doing to get tech help. The estimate is based on a U.S. Department of Labor estimate that it costs an average private company $24.95 per hour to employ a white-collar worker, Siemens said.

The survey also found that 26 percent of employees admit they rely on their company's technical support for help with personal technology devices, further driving up demand for technical support services.

"Of all leading indicators, help desk calls represent the clearest view into the health of an IT environment," said a statement from John McKenna, CEO of Siemens Business Services of North America. "By addressing the entire IT infrastructure, CIOs solve the help-desk symptoms and, more importantly, maximize overall IT performance and deliver cost savings."

According to a report earlier this year from research company Meta Group, the idea of farming out support services to low-cost providers is gaining attention in the market. But outsourcing isn't a no-brainer, Meta Group warned.

"The promise of significant cost savings is the alluring attraction for many organizations investigating alternative services to costly insourced IT resources," Meta Group said. "However, quick-hitting resource cost reductions at the service desk must be carefully weighed against the long-term cost management of IT service delivery."


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I wonder why.......
This would not even be a question if it were not for the need of various industries to push for computer ignorance. The advertising industry of particularly at fault, but there are many others.

People need tech support mainly for one reason.....all those in the right places don't want the public to really understand how to work with computers. People spend tons of money for something they know little if anything about. They know nothing about it because the truth and the facts are twisted are and what ends up being given is a sugar coated "feel-good-ism"

People are learning though, but it is taking time. Time however is the problem, the tech industry moves at such a fast pace.

The buyer of a computer should be willing to "self-educate" themself. Otherwise, you end up with a story like this.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
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No time
I work in tech support. The vast majority of staff who call us are too busy with their regular duties to "learn" how to troubleshoot their computers. Very few have to stamina to do their jobs then go home and learn, most don't want to touch a computer once they leave the office.
Posted by m0kume (56 comments )
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Policy ignorance may be to blame
While a lot of problems may be user ignorance It'd be safe to say that a large part of that time is because of company policies. Requiring complex passwords that are hard to remember and hard to type along with 3 strikes and you're locked out policies ensure frequent calls for help with passwords.

Since the average company can control nearly every aspect of the end user's PC these days there are many companies who have done so. They've got the end users tied up so tight that those users are required to call support for anything not done on a daily basis.
Posted by Not Bugged (195 comments )
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Help Desk Support
Better train your white-collar employees, this could save you the millions you pay them.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Is it wise to pay people to fix their PC's
Given enough time and trial and eror tested any intelligent person can fix a PC. The question is whether that is the most productive use of their time. Given enough research I could be a junior accountant, but do you want to pay me for being a CIO while I learn to be an junior accountant? I think not. The idea behind a helpdesk and technical staff is to provide support so the other employees can concentrate on being the best at their particular job they can be. Spend the money train them to be expert in the software they need to do their job, but don't make them fix their office PCs.

Outsourcing in medium to large organizations doesn't solve the problem or truly cut cost. what it does is produce departmental gurus who spend a great deal of their time trying to keep everyone in the department's PC going.
Eventually the get very effective at this, but at point you're now paying twice for support , once for the in house guru and once for the outsourced support that is to slow in responding or is not available when support is needed.

The fact is that a properly run, trained and funded in house IT support staff can save you money in day to day operations. Prolems are researched once, solved and applied many times over. Good long term staf can read sysmtoms and determine the cause of a problem faster than a novice can find a good research site.

If you have problems with your IT support fix it... It's much more efficient than making your staff fend for themselves or depand on the departmental guru. In a productive business environment if these people have hours of free time to master PC support maybe you should rethink your staffing needs...
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