Why A “Dedicated” Support Technician Is A Bad Idea

An emerging trend nowadays is that a lot of businesses have trouble differentiating themselves from their competitors. At this point they usually need to innovate, so they have a “novel” product to sell, or change the way they do business to make themselves more appealing to customers (of course another option is to start slashing prices in an attempt to soak up some of the market, but this simply isn’t sustainable, making it a risky gamble).

Anchor is no exception to this – we firmly believe that our success is in no small part thanks to our quality of customer support and technical prowess. One suggestion that often arises when discussing how we can Do It Better is somehow building better relationships with our customers. The better we understand their goals, the more effectively we can help them.

A lot of other business turn this into a selling point, by offering you a dedicated account manager or point of contact. It’s easy to see why; it makes people feel special, and that makes them feel good – feel-good customers are happy customers. For the business, it’s fairly cheap to do, too. We do this a bit too, but in a less formal manner. A staff member with a lot of experience with one customer tends to pick up their support requests anyway, which works out nicely.

In a perfect world, all else being equal, having someone who knows all your history and systems inside out is much better than having different people work on your business each time you make contact. In the real world, however, it’s never that simple. We’re all for promoting stronger customer relationships, but it’s important to recognise that this can add weaknesses if not done carefully.


Things to think about

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  • When your tech goes to the pub, what do you do?
  • When your tech leaves the company, what do you do?
  • Documentation is the key, someone who doesn’t need to document things regularly probably won’t
  • A lack of documentation means that anyone else who does have to work on your stuff is working completely blind
  • Having someone write notes about their clients when they’re leaving is too late, they’ll forget too much stuff
  • Pub/hit-by-a-bus problems don’t give the luxury of pre-departure documentation, anyway
  • If you’re running multiple technologies, perhaps different people will be the best to work on the different parts of your system anyway
  • Is your “dedicated support person” actually a tech, or just an account manager who acts as a gopher between you and the real technicians? If so, they’re just overhead, and could quite possibly make things harder by slowing down communication and not properly communicating things back and forth
  • Some companies will advertise “dedicated support tech” because they’ve only got one person in their support department!

For these reasons we do not believe in providing a “dedicated support person”. What we do offer, however, is access to a team of well trained and experienced system administrators who are all capable of assisting with all your hosting infrastructure. That said, we’ll do our best to get the most appropriate person onto your problem, whether that’s someone who knows your particular setup or someone who is an expert at the technology you’re using or even the particular problem that you’re having. To ensure there is continuity of information across the team we use a ticketing system to make sure that everyone readily has access to all historical information about an issue, and finally, we have a very healthy appreciation of the value in having comprehensive documentation about everything we do.