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Extending customer support

Extending customer support

For companies in the computer business, giving support reps the tools to directly control a remote customer’s PC can go a long way toward trimming the field-service budget and keeping customers satisfied. Solutions such as WebEx Support Center, that creates an instant bridge over the Internet between your service rep and the customer’s PC, can be an invaluable complement to your customer-support applications.

WebEx Support Center is a hosted application-sharing solution that takes advantage of the same technology that has made WebEx Meeting Manager so popular for holding meetings or conducting present­ations over the Web, adding remote control of Microsoft Windows and Sun Solaris computers. Support Center allows a service rep, via the Internet, to replicate on a local computer screen what’s displayed on the customer’s monitor. In addition, a representative can take control of a remote PC and use a local keyboard and mouse to launch applications, check configuration settings, transfer files, and install patches and updates.

Benefits are obvious

Furthermore, with a standard Webcam, the service representative can incorporate live video into a Support Center session, a useful feature for directing the customer’s attention to details not shown on the PC screen, such as a connector in the back of the computer case or the procedure for removing a paper jam in a printer.

The benefits are obvious. Technicians can see with their own eyes what’s happening on the customer’s machine without having to depend on the customer’s description of the problem, and the customer benefits from close, personal attention.

To test Support Center, we logged in as a service representative from a Windows 98SE computer. On this machine we had previously installed a 3Com HomeConnect Webcam and a PC-telephone interface, the DynaMetric TMP-636, that allowed us to include accompanying telephone con­versations in the recordings of our Support Center sessions.

The DynaMetric TMP-636 is a 5cm-square box that connects to a telephone handset and to a soundcard’s microphone and speaker jacks. You may use other devices of this type for the same purpose.

After logging in to Support Center, a service representative initiates a conference session and sends the customer an email invitation to participate. Support Center automatically creates a URL for the session and inserts the link in the body of the email so that the customer can join the session simply by clicking on that link. Unfortunately, Support Center doesn’t allow a support representative to personalise that e-mail.

We emailed our simulated customer the invitation and link, and he clicked on the URL to join the support session. Our customer waited for a minute or so for WebEx to download an ActiveX control client, and then we were connected. This download should only be required the first time a customer uses Support Center or when there is an update from WebEx.

On the service representative’s PC, we saw a message showing that our customer had joined. We could have invited other attendees to the same session — a more experienced technician to help with a tough issue, for example, or additional users who share the same problem.

Instead we opened the Support Center chat and sent a greeting to our customer. Next we (the service rep) clicked the “record session” button to keep track of our phone conversation and video screens. When it was time to check the configuration of our customer’s PC, we clicked on the “request Desktop Control” button.

Letting another person, even a support rep, drive your PC over the Internet makes many people uncomfortable. So WebEx Customer Support supports several levels of sharing, which must be authorised by the customer and vary from seeing only what’s displayed on the remote PC to fully controlling a single application or the whole computer.

Solve a computer issue

Our customer saw our request on his screen and gave us control. We quickly inspected the printer settings and drivers: nothing wrong. We asked the customer to check the printer cable, firing up the Webcam session and pointing the camera to the cable connector of our printer. The same image appeared on our customer’s screen, and we were able to easily guide him to find a loose connection and the reason for his printing problem.

In minutes, we helped an inexperienced customer solve a complex issue using all the communication channels that WebEx supports — application sharing, telephone conversation, online chat, and live video. Support Center provides powerful tools that can help your service reps solve support issues quickly and efficiently.

And because it is offered as a service, you don’t need to install and maintain additional server software or hardware — just the Webcams and telephone adapters for live video and voice recording.


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