We’ve looked at a couple of options for outsourced tech support in the past. But now there’s a fresh player in this niche, targeting small businesses who can’t afford their own dedicated IT staff: AT&T Tech Support 360.
The pitch here is basically the same as with the other services: if you need to have working computers and other technology to keep your business running, but learning how to do it yourself is a distraction, call in a specialist. (They do make sure to note that their team is “U.S. based” – for many, that will be an important distinguisher). They offer both subscription and pay-as-you-go plans, and the prices are fairly reasonable.
The menu of services they offer is reasonably wide: PC tune-up and optimization, network security review and setup, wireless network setup, software installation, and so on. One key limitation: your computers have to be running Windows 98, XP, or Vista (and they’re wise enough to advice you to upgrade instead of pouring a lot of money into Windows 98) due to the remote connection software that they’re using. They offer 24/7 coverage.
You can buy “SmartMinutes” to connect you to their support in blocks starting at 15 minutes for $35, up to 300 for $420. But most businesses will want to look at the unlimited service plans instead: they start at $19 per month per computer, with a mandatory $89 sign-up fee including a tune-up when you bring a machine into the program. $19 per month gets you basic service; moving to the $24 advanced plan adds more services, and for $28 a month they’ll throw in a Carbonite backup account.
Technically-oriented web workers are unlikely to be interested in signing up for this service themselves. But if you find your day being interrupted and used up by offering technical support to your own customers, it might be worth steering them towards AT&T instead – think of it as your own tech support outsourcing department. The AT&T name will leave many clients in their comfort zone, freeing you up to do the actual work you’ve been hired for.