Best Buy’s Geek Squad members may have their pseudo-cop uniforms, ersatz detective parlance and VW Beetle patrol cars, but a Kelowa, B.C.-based tech support firm says its technicians are even “geekier.”
Steve Wandler, CEO ofYourTechOnline.com Inc. (YTO) is never ashamed to say he “only hires real geeks” and that his technicians don’t even drive but stay indoors hooked to the Internet all day long.
One of the main advantages the six-year-old Web-based company has over Geek Squad is that YTO personnel are available 24/7 and are guaranteed to start working on a client’s computer within 15 minutes of being contacted, says Wandler.
The YTO technicians basically control and fix a client’s computer through the Internet .
“This is a faster method than waiting for a technician to show up on your front door, more convenient than lugging your computer to a repair shop and cheaper than maintaining your own IT department,” Wandler said.
To accomplish this, YTO uses GoToAssist, a collaboration and support software product developed by Citrix Online LCC of Santa Barbara, Calif. that enables remote sharing of screen, mouse and keyboard controls.
Clients simply call YTO to sign up for the service and download the software. The charges range from $49 for 30 minutes up to $179 for three hours.
The clock on the service doesn’t start ticking until technicians actually commence working on the computer. If you don’t use all your minutes, they remain available for a year. The service is also transferable to any machine.
Among the services provided by YourTech technicians are virus and spyware detection and removal, application and device support and reformatting.
Wandler says his online technicians are based across North America and serve more than 53 countries around the world.
The benefits of YourTech Online go beyond savings for Karen Farrington, principal of a Florida-based consultancy firm called Suntoast Meetings & Events.
The head of the 10-person meetings and events firm has been using the service for the last four years, but just last week her YTO account paid off by way of invaluable client relations “brownie points.”
She was working with the executive director of client organization when the officer’s computer started to malfunction. Using her transferable service account, Farrington contacted YourTechOnline. Within an hour a technician was able to resolve the client’s computer problems.
“They (YTO) made me look very good to my client. Here I was a mere SMB (small and medium scale business) and I was able to help them with a big problem in minutes.”
The 24/7 availability of YourTech technicians is also a big advantage for Farrington, who works on a very flexible schedule. “I can contact them and receive service whenever it’s convenient for me, not when the technician is available.”
Farrington uses the service two to three times a month for various troubleshooting needs such as virus removal and application support. The service calls typically take anywhere from five minutes to an hour.
Technicians also give her advice about her computer needs. Farrington estimates that a particular suggestion to upgrade her computer may have actually saved her a substantial amount in service calls to YTO.
A Canadian-based e-commerce specialist, however, noted a couple of disadvantages in the YTO service model.
Clients who are having difficulty accessing Internet services might have a hard time getting YTO technicians to work on their machines, said Tim Richardson, professor of e-commerce, marketing and international business at the Seneca College and the University of Toronto.
The company also doesn’t appear to service content management software, said Richardson. “This type of software is very important even for small firms in the financial sector.”
Other than that, Richardson said, YTO appears ideal for most SMB operations that find maintaining an IT department too expensive.
He said the service also compliments online support offered by vendors of hardware and software products. “Most vendor-based tech support personnel are only trained to handle specific products, while users often have overlapping problems that cross device and software brands.”