Where Will Tech Support Be 1 Year From Now?

March 27, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

The Scene: A Growing Technological World

By the year 2020, the world’s number of interconnected digital devices will surpass 15 million. This stunning prediction offers a macro-view of what we’ve all observed on the micro-level: the rise of multiple devices in the connected home—or at least, the rise of the idea.

We’ve all come a long way since technology invaded our homes via telephone wires and invisible airwaves in the 90s. The Internet just turned 25 this year, and for those of us who grew up with computers, interacting with technology has become second nature. We wake up, check our email and social networking feeds, and then we eat. When we face technical issues, our first instinct is to “Google it” and fix it ourselves. Our parents and grandparents’ first instinct is to call us.

The Problem: Increasing Demand Shifts Support Overseas

As much as our use of technology has evolved, so has the technical support industry in order to keep up with increasing demand. Before Y2K, IT professionals commanded high salaries for in-house positions due to a shortage in the market. Since then, much of the IT and tech support industry has been outsourced to countries like India, whose emerging economy offers skilled labor at a lower price. More scalable, say companies looking to cut costs.

Unfortunately, the gaps caused by distance, language, and culture are often a poor trade-off for the end user. According to a recent survey, a full 8 out of 10 customers define a great service experience as “getting their issue resolved quickly,” and 6 out of 10 customers go as far to say “resolving the issue in a single interaction.” How can tech support companies miles away from the problem hope to deliver such a high standard of service?

Look at the tech support companies who are succeeding, and you’ve got your answer.

The Solution: Universal, “All-in-One” Tech Support Brands

Tech support brands like Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Utah-based iTOK, and SupportSoft (a.k.a. Support.com) have taken a universal approach: call us with any problem, any time. You can pay for a one-time call, or you can subscribe monthly to get unlimited support.

Right now, older tech users rely on their younger family members and friends to fix technical hiccups (“Mom, did you install another toolbar?!”). Increasingly, however, they are connecting and building loyal relationships with these all-in-one tech support firms who understand their computers and other devices, and how they work together (“Why yes, we can help you with that!”). It doesn’t hurt that most of these companies are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

It all comes back to the connected home—homes enhanced by multiple devices which talk to each other. These days, we have phones and tablets talking to routers, computers talking to printers, and combinations of all the above. Rather than having to call a different tech support line for each device, customers want centralized help from savvy tech advisors who can coach them through any issue or fix it remotely.

And it’s not just about fixing problems as they arise. For example, iTOK moves to prevent problems by routinely taking care of subscribers’ computers with software updates, virus protection, and cloud-based data backup. This comprehensive basket of services protects devices from malware and makes copies of precious photos and documents in case the worst happens. It’s no wonder the company describes its staff as “remarkably helpful technology experts to connect, improve, and protect your digital life.”

These days, it’s about anticipating customers’ needs so they don’t have to call—and about being there whenever they do. This model of service is being adopted across the industry, which means subscription-based tech support is looking more and more like the future. Imagine having a go-to tech coach for every aspect of your digital life, one who knows your devices and keeps your data safe. That’s the ideal tech support is moving toward, and considering how fast technology makes us move, it likely won’t take long to get there.