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Tech support industry: war in a new battlefield

As highlighted, end-user pricing associated with field services is decreasing, but price-pressure in the legacy model, including the deployment of engineers isn't. The average engineer's salary is currently reaching £34,000, substantially higher than the emerging middle ground technician who earns £20/25,000.

The industry simply can't afford to support field service engineers working at this level, despite their vast expertise. As price-pressure rates continue to fall, this issue is only going to get worse.

Reskilling engineers is vital

With technical couriers and middle ground technicians dealing with the majority of incidents, the role of field service engineers has to change in line with the service supply chain.

The skilled engineers remain vital; focused at the top of the skill pyramid, providing services within the data centre and other complex technology areas such as multi-functional devices and networks.

However, they will need to be deployed in a different way to provide the most cost-effective model possible and employed in far less quantities than they are today.

Dodd says, "The level of expertise skilled engineers have should never be overlooked. When technology stops working, businesses stop working and it is often this vital part of the service which enables companies to get back up and running again, within the service level agreement. We simply need to readdress the economics of demand, aligning skill to activity to service revenue model.

"If we don't change the approach, the battlefield will intensify, providers will lose money and customers will lose faith in the service. This would be disastrous. The industry and the associated channel will continue to be viewed as non-strategic, causing confusion between customers, those in the field and the so called specialists providing the service."

Modernising technical support

As well as rejuvenating the service, remodelling the cost and ensuring the workforce is effectively deployed, the service supply chain must be connected in an intelligent way - centralised around astute contact centre services. Each process can be challenged and streamlined, culminating in a chain that is valuable, capable, available, adequate and flexible.

Dodd believes modernisation is vital to the future stability of after sales support. "It's clear that the current technology support model is not fit for purpose and is actively harming the industry. We all talk and think about putting the customer first, but taking a holistic view of this industry, it seems no one is designing these services with customer satisfaction in mind.

"The delivery infrastructure needs a complete overhaul, moving away from the fragmented supply chain currently plaguing technology support towards a more streamlined, connected approach. Redesigning the interaction between each element of the supply chain, from control centre to repair, will breed high-quality service."

"We must redesign the battlefield as by changing the thinking, creating greater intelligence and deploying with full traceability, the middle ground break-fix will cease to be the daily battle-zone. Instead, technology support will profit from a lean, customer first service supply chain, once again adding true value for the customer."