Tech Support has been a calling card of millions of contractors for well over 20 years now.
Like car mechanics in the 20th century, they exist to provide support to the millions of users of IT systems – many of which have very little to no support provided by the manufacturer.
Whilst a number of services have existed for many years, with the likes of GeekSquad providing 24/7 support, there is one issue with which most of these providers will not help – software.
Lack Of Software Support
Everything from web hosting, DNS, cloud email and even the systems running web infrastructure (WordPress etc) require constant maintenance, assistance and support.
This is generally not covered by the large tech support providers, leading a number of "smaller" providers to fill the gap.
The scope is simple – if you have a problem with WordPress, Microsoft Azure, Exchange, Office, Photoshop or any other software service provider, there are a number of ways to get the fixes provided by a support company.
The difference is that the majority of support companies do NOT deal with code – only surface-level issues which are generally fixable by looking at tutorials online. In fact, it's not uncommon to find companies just selling other [third party] information to help resolve clients' problems.
This is where a number of "software" centric support providers started to provide services – giving companies & people the opportunity to get their own digital infrastructure running as smoothly as possible with the provision of undering software-level support.
How It Works
The underpin to all of this is that there's a "gray area" between where many "support" companies operate, and what clients end up needing.
This gray area has only grown in the past 5+ years, due to the increased importance of different "cloud" centric technologies, most probably Microsoft's move forward with Azure and its accompanying services.
The "technology" business is undergoing a period of change. Soon, "software" will ALL considered "services" – meaning that you'll have apps for the likes of Amazon, YouTube and Evernote directly on your desktop – reducing the necessity of the web browser from a "do all" tool to simply an information consumption device.
Whilst this does not matter, what it shows is that the "market" is moving towards a completely software / service centric model.
Thus, we get a number of businesses who end up in a curious position.
They may need their digital infrastructure managed, maintained and supported … but now have no provider in a position to help.
It might sound trivial … but things such as how to get Evernote set up in the most effective way, designing & implementing effective systems with Zapier, or building out a strong spreadsheet for new businesses on Google Docs … no provider has the ability to go to such lengths to ensure that companies are running their digital infrastructure as smoothly or effectively in the "new" cloud era.
Both providers work in a similar way (providing "online" support staff, contactable via email, livechat or phone – and "offline" support dealing with localized fixes) – the difference lies in the effectiveness that they bring to the work.
Software centric providers generally have much more experience of the different software tools for users. For example, they may have a particular way that WordPress is set up – or some some Photoshop trick to ensure the best work.
This is what has lead many companies to begin looking at them as a means to ensure their growth.
What It Means
Ultimely, "software" support companies provide a more cost-effective method to receive code-centric fixes for many different errors that both "traditional" providers will not fix, and "software developers" will not want to get involved with.
The main competition for many of these service providers are actually software developers themselves … many of which would happily provide fixes for $ 40 on the likes of Upwork or Freelancer.
I personally have many clients who need a HUGE number of fixes, but these fixes we ended up just doing for free (because they were not that big of a deal). Adding Google Analytics conversion tags, removing menu items in WordPress, automatically adding products in Shopify, managing CRM issues etc.
The point is that the "software" support provider typically charges a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to provide users with the ability to contact them at any time of the day / night and have either answer provided directly, or the request passed onto an expert who has specific expertise in the area of concern.
Whilst many companies do not need the service immediately, it's a HUGE timesaver, and great safety net for people who may rely on their website to operate – but do not have anyone to provide immediate support if it goes down.
For example, a "WordPress blog" that receives 50,000+ visitors per day may have ZERO support infrastructure in place in case it went down, or had problems with speed etc. Who would pay you in a situation like that?
Coders generally charge by the hour and most of them do not really have much expertise with high-traffic websites. This is the type of situation in which software-level support excels.
Which Providers Exist
In terms of "software" support provision, there are several providers who've come onto the scene in the past few years …
The present state of the industry is that it's growing rapidly, and that several of the above providers are in a very strong position to help a number of companies remain operational.