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What is Remote Support Software? Analysis of Features, Types and Pricing

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What is remote support software? It is often a help desk or service desk specifically designed to enable I.T. to access computer assets off location via cloud. Among its key functions include troubleshooting, software installation and on-demand support. In this guide, you’ll learn more about its basic aspects, how it is distinct from its umbrella category — help desk — and insights on the following key points:

  1. Examples of Remote Support Software
  2. Benefits of Remote Support Software
  3. Types of Remote Support Software
  4. Features of Remote Support Software
  5. Buying Factors to Consider
  6. Pricing of Remote Support Software
  7. Potential Issues

Suppose you have a customer that can’t figure out how to install a patch to debug his laptop. Regular help desk can resolve this issue, but it’ll be a cumbersome process of back-and-forth emails before support finally figures out the problem. Remote support software levels up your customer service by allowing your support to access the customer’s device right off the first interaction. This speeds up resolution and leaves the customer satisfied.

The steadily advancing remote access technology today — proof positive of these top ten remote support software platforms — paves the way for a majority of network management and support operations to be performed offsite, including technical issues solved by IT teams. As helpdesk systems face the growing demands and complexities of various devices and dispersed workforce, adopting a remote support software is vital to support your customers and end users when they encounter issues that need the help of your IT specialist.

Technical issues are one of the major reasons for customers to contact your support team, according to Multichannel Merchant. Meanwhile, 40% of support requests are done through a phone channel. However, 52% of these total inbound calls aren’t resolved in a single phone. If the issue is technical, it becomes even more challenging, especially when a client is not knowledgeable about it. To provide an efficient and effective solution to this problem, companies are looking at remote support software.

Source: MultichannelMerchant.com

While on-site support is still crucial to develop a comprehensive IT service plan, performing remote support such as firmware updates and server patching helps leverage the quality of your company’s customer support and drive efficiency with this cost-efficient solution. In fact, many companies are already onboard as 71% of organizations want to have cost-savings solutions on their IT support according to a Harvard Technology infographic via Visualistan. Furthermore, 48% of them want to improve their technical support quality.

This can be easily achieved with a remote support software. With that, let’s proceed with the definition of remote support software for technical support.

What is Remote Support Software?

What is remote support software? The short definition is, a remote support software is a tool that enables technicians to connect to a remote computer and access it directly from their system via the internet. This approach revolutionized the IT industry with a myriad of benefits through the help of this efficient solution.

As long as there’s internet connection, your IT specialist can take control of any device from anywhere in the world to perform tasks such as troubleshooting issues, installing updates, and responding to on-demand support, among others. In addition, it also elevates file synchronization, desktop sharing, file transfer, and command line.

One of the primary reasons behind adopting this software is reducing costs while leveraging customer support. Without traveling to a client’s location, transported-related expenses and long travel times are eliminated. Instead, customers receive a support that feels like the technician is physically side-by-side with them in a faster and more efficient approach.

Examples of Remote Support Software

There’s a wide array of products available to choose from. To streamline your search, here are some of the leading examples of remote support software:

  1. Connectwise Control. This is a robust software that offers instant connectivity that’s secure and uncomplicated when solving any tech issues. As long as there’s internet connection, technicians can fix problems on any device ranging from desktops, Android, Windows, and iOS devices. It’s also customizable as it has a wide array of extensions and integrations available for you to connect with. The software also safeguards your connectivity against cyber threats with two-factor authentication and AES-256 encryption. Additionally, its plans are flexible for different types of users from individuals to large and small teams.
  2. Surfly. It’s known as a real-time co-browsing and video chat platform for providing remote assistance to visitors. This lets you share your browser and documents to guide your client while ensuring you only get a view of the website and nothing else to guarantee the protection of information for both parties. The app doesn’t require configuration and software installation as it’s fully integrated into your web application. The customizable tool seamlessly works with your existing tools, devices, and browsers. Its common users are support teams, advisors, and sales teams.
  3. Bomgar Remote Support. It’s a robust solution that provides easy access for vendors and employees to systems while ensuring the protection of endpoints and credentials from potential cyber threats. It supports various devices such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux servers. It’s packed with features for fixing end systems on or off a corporate network and troubleshooting issues. It also allows users to use their existing admin systems for user, group, and permission management by integrating seamlessly with external directories.
  4. Toonimo. It’s an online self-service tool that gives your clients a personalized interactive guidance with visual cues and real human voice. This is a digital guidance platform built for e-commerce and omnichannel retail enterprises to leverage a remote support with self-service. Any browser on any device can be added with on-page annotations for easy navigation. It can be used by various industries for step-by-step walkthroughs in their platform.
  5. Zoho Assist. This is a remote support and remote access software that supports your business’ outsourced IT and MSP support. It lets you easily connect with your business product customers for instant troubleshooting to leverage customer support. It has an on-demand session or ad-hoc support without installation required as the invitee can easily join via the website or email invite. Additionally, it enables you to set up unattended access inside and outside LAN.
  6. CloudBerry Remote Assistant. A remote assistance software developed by CloudBerry that enables users to connect and remotely access computers so they can perform various functions and tasks like computer maintenance and repairs, software download, system updates, and more.

ConnectWise Control’s dashboard showing access sessions for remote support.

Benefits of Remote Support Software

Why use remote support software? Here are the advantages of remote support software:

  1. Instant support. Probably the most important aspect of adopting this system is the capability to provide instant support. Your IT team can quickly provide technical support to customers, suppliers, and employees on demand. It doesn’t require installation and complex set up operations for end users to perform. Footprints aren’t left behind when the session is over. As long as there’s internet connection, remote support can be performed on any device in any location. It also supports unattended remote support with its fast connectivity.
  2. Efficiency. This software provides an efficient solution for remote support. Almost every aspect of the network can be monitored and managed in real time from a single location. It paves the way for a holistic process of managing your network as a whole from editing permissions based on groups of users and specifying users to restricting access in order to ensure they can only view and access certain controls in the desktop. It provides easy access from anywhere in the world and also empowers your staff to work remotely.
  3. Cost-effective. Hiring a remote technical support service will cost you less than employing more full-time, on-site staffs who provide the same type of service. By having a remote support software, technicians can work remotely. Additionally, it eliminates the cost of travel—both the time it takes to reach the customer’s location and the transportation expenses—by providing a prompt response to a support request.
  4. Proactive system maintenance. For companies with maintenance contracts, this software is easily an efficient solution for keeping an eye on your client’s systems. Through remote access, you can log in their systems to check the status of their hardware and monitor if it’s outdated so the latest updates can be applied. This makes regularly doing this operation less time-consuming and demanding. It also reduces the frequency of visiting the client’s physical location to check the hardware’s physical state.
  5. Client-friendly. When visiting your customer’s location, you have to be dependent on a time that’s convenient for them. Agreeing on a schedule involves a back and forth of available time. Additionally, there are circumstances when last-minute changes occur that can disrupt your planned schedule. By using the remote support system, especially unattended access, you can provide technical support even when the client is not available. Having a solution that works well for your customer’s convenience also increases customer satisfaction.
  6. Less intrusive. Providing technical support remotely doesn’t disrupt your client’s schedule. Some of them may don’t even want technicians to travel to their location, but it would be a challenge to effectively fix the technical issue by providing step-by-step guides alone, especially with no visual cues. Hence, using a remote support solution ensures you don’t get in the way of your client’s work or day. Furthermore, you get to provide a solution in your own controlled environment with access to resources you need. You may even handle multiple clients at a time.

Types of Remote Support Software

How does remote support software work? It has two types to choose from that function in different ways:

  1. Attended/on-demand remote support. This type refers to when your client immediately needs your support. This usually happens when a client encounters a problem while using your application or service and calls your support for a timely response. How does it work? To fix the issue, the IT technician connects to your client’s device to identify the problem and fix it promptly without any pre-installation required. This eliminates the inefficient process of asking the client questions about what went wrong and instructing them a step-by-step guide on how to fix it, which is difficult especially when the client doesn’t have much technical knowledge and experience. The technician no longer has to travel to the client’s location to fix the device. 
  2. Unattended remote support. While similar to attended remote support, the unattended remote support gives your technician additional access to fix the device even when the client isn’t present. How does it work? The technician sends the streamer application to be installed for all the devices to be managed in order for the technician to access it remotely. It’s popular for numerous MSPs and internal IT support teams as the technician can perform operations such as updating devices, doing maintenance, and keeping devices up-to-date and properly-managed.

Bomgar Remote Support dashboard showing the site status information for a remote support process.

Features of Remote Support Software

What does remote support software do? These are its key features:

  1. Remote control and screen sharing. A core feature of a remote support software. It lets your technician view and control the remote computer to fully interact with it. This is where screen sharing, controlling multiple monitors, and viewing attached monitors are performed.
  2. Annotations. In a view-only mode, you can use annotations to enhance the support or training process. This allows you to draw, highlight, encircle, and box certain areas on the screen of the remote computer. Symbols and tools are available for adding annotations.
  3. File sharing. This essential feature is used to resolve a common issue which is replacing bad files (malware, corrupted, or outdated). This feature not just enables easy update, patch, and file transfer but also ensures a secure process with strong encryption in various devices.
  4. Remote mobile device camera sharing. In addition to sharing screens, some remote support situations call for viewing more. This lets the technician see the peripherals and hardware that the customer sees using their remote video camera on devices such as Android, iPad and iPhone devices.
  5. Transfer Session. If a technician needs help from another technician for troubleshooting issues and remote support assistance, inviting any number of technicians is possible. The technicians can work together or allow one to take over.
  6. Unattended remote access. To be set up for computers, this feature enables your technician to access a computer even without the supervision of the client or the end user’s presence. It allows providing connection to unattended servers, establishing an unattended connection to virtual machines, and installing updates on the user’s computer.
  7. Multi-Monitor Navigation. It enables going back and forth between screens easily to support end users and customers who connect two or more windows and applications. Viewing multiple screens at the same time can be done when using the same screen setup.

Buying Factors to Consider

The purpose of remote support software is to provide businesses with an efficient, cost-effective, and fast solution to respond to their customer’s request for technical support. This stresses the importance of choosing the right software to deploy in your ecosystem. Here’s an overview of important buying factors to consider:

  1. Scalability. A scalable, enterprise-grade solution is essential to support your demands as your organization grows. This ensures you start and pay for a pricing package that has all the tools and features your IT team will actually use. As your demands become more complex, ensure these packages are designed to grow as well together with your IT infrastructure. Features such as collaboration, escalation, and canned scripts enhance service levels and customer satisfaction for end users regardless of your business size.
  2. Security. Security is critical when it comes to a remote support solution. No matter the device or operating system, look for a software that provides scaled security across platforms whether you choose a self-hosted or cloud-based deployment model. It’s vital for techs to get role-based security, video assurance, and audit logs while features such as permission-based access, consent request, and zero footprints can help ease customers. Hence, find a secure remote system with advanced encryption, granular permissions, and two-factor authentication, among others.
  3. Cross-platform compatibility. The single platform must support and be compatible with various systems across the web to ensure a reliable solution to your customers. This includes support for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, and SSH/Telnet, among others. For mobile devices, see if a technician can access Mac, Windows, and Linux from an Android device with apps available to be downloaded. There must also be a wide array of browser types and versions supported for standardization and consolidation to leverage productivity of support representatives and improve handling time.
  4. Fast connectivity. It’s vital to have instant connectivity when providing a remote technical support. Depending on the type of support is needed, whether installation and configuration of network settings are required or not, ensuring your system quickly connects to the remote client’s system is crucial. Hence, it’s important that your system enables prompt connection with your end user’s system or network by making sure it has a top-notch, robust and fast connectivity. 
  5. Integrations. Understanding that everyone uses a different solution and that you need more than just one tool for your business processes is crucial. Make sure you choose a system with a good amount of integrations and extensions, especially supporting those you’re already using, for a system that fits well with your workflows and environment. Many products offer pre-built integrations solutions for CRM, help desk, service desk, and systems management, among others. On top of that, others also offer more custom integrations with API.

Zoho Assist enables deployment of unattended agent and configuration.

Pricing of Remote Support Software

How much does a remote support system cost? Pricing comes in myriad forms, including introductory free versions, fixed monthly plans, licensing and by quote. Here are some examples how vendors present the cost of remote support software:

  1. Connectwise Control. It’s offered in four pricing tiers starting from a completely free plan. Premium plans start from $19 to $45. A self-hosted package and access-only package, starting from $300 per year to $1,920 per year, are also available.
  2. Surfly. Pricing is simple for its three subscription packages. It starts at €17/agent/month up to €47/agent/month for enterprises with annual payments.
  3. Bomgar Remote Support. It’s available for a one-time purchase or a concurrent license starting from $1,995 annually.
  4. Toonimo. The pricing information of Toonimo is only available by a quote request as plans are customized.
  5. Zoho Assist. It has a free plan in addition to its remote support starting at $8 and $13 per technician per month billed annually. Its unattended access solution starts at $8 per 25 computers per month billed annually.

Potential Issues

Now that we’ve tackled what is remote support software, it’s essential to be aware of the potential issues you may encounter when using the software, such as:

  1. Downtime. As with many tech solutions nowadays, a remote support system is reliant on internet connection both for your IT team and, in most cases, your end users. If your network is experiencing downtime, your entire support operation may halt. It’s important to ensure your connection is stable, reliable, and fast to prevent potentially encountering such issues.
  2. Bottlenecks. Since you’re using a host system, its power may be dependent on it. If numerous users are trying to access the system at the same time, you may experience a reduction in performance. Hence, it’s vital to choose a system that can support your needs and scale to avoid system hiccups.
  3. Hardware problem. If the need for a technical support comes from a hardware problem, your IT technician may still have to physically travel to the client’s location. For instance, if a network card is defective, the IT specialist will have to personally check and replace it, as deemed necessary. However, it’s still an efficient solution as your IT team only travels when required, not for every technical support request that can be solved remotely.
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