Your mobile support stinks, according to users

As BYOD becomes more common and more users start working on mobile devices, IT teams need to develop better mobile support skills. So far they’re not doing so great, users say. 

There’s a big disconnect between how well employees think their companies’ IT departments are at providing mobile support for BYOD users and how IT staff members think they’re doing, according to a recent CDW survey.

When asked to grade their team’s mobile support skills, most (64%) of 1,200 IT pros surveyed gave themselves an A or B.

However, 56% of the 1,200 mobile users polled gave their company’s IT department a grade of C or worse for their mobile support.

Mobile support challenges

Of course, it’s hard to say it’s strictly IT’s fault that the support provided in BYOD environments is less than perfect. For one thing, the sheer number and variety of mobile devices that are now being brought into work is difficult for many organizations to handle.

According to a report released last year by research firm Osterman, BYOD is driving up IT costs thanks to the increased time that IT staff must spend configuring devices, dealing with technical issues, enforcing policy compliance and other tasks. Osterman estimated that that 2.9 full-time IT employees per 1,000 mobile devices were required in 2011 compared to 3.6 in 2012 — with the number likely to reach four by the end of this year.

Plus users often make things difficult by ignoring policies or bringing personal devices to work and loading them up with company data without letting anyone in IT or management know. That means a lot of time and effort is spent tracking down people who violate the rules instead of supporting those that are in compliance with the company’s policy.

What users want

However, at many organizations there are some steps IT can take to improve their mobile support. One way IT can make its own job easier is by limiting the pool of devices that users are allowed to bring in. That will make sure that gadgets which are too difficult to support or create too many security and other risks are left at home.

Educating users about the company’s BYOD policy can also go a long way to increasing compliance. Among IT pros surveyed by CDW, 76% say they offer guidelines on the use of mobile devices — but only 42% of users said they were aware of those guidelines.

What else can IT do to get better at mobile support? Here are some of the primary complaints users have:

1. Support is too slow

Part of the increased mobility trend means that users want help with technical issues wherever and whenever they need it. And unfortunately, most help desks can’t keep up with those expectations.

While IT may not be able to tackle issues faster without adding support staff, there are some things the help desk can do to limit the number of calls for mobile support and make users happier with the overall experience:

  • Set clear guidelines regarding what issues IT will and won’t be responsible for fixing on a personal device. For example, if a problem doesn’t affect the work-related use of a device, it shouldn’t be IT’s problem.
  • Include the support channels that users find most convenient. In addition to phone calls and emails, users may want to reach IT through IMs or text messages.
  • Create intranet portals with self-help tools for the most popular smartphone and tablet models. Some companies create wiki documents and discussion forums to allow users of the same device to help each other.
  • Use MDM software to give IT staff more control over personal devices even when users are remote.

2. Not enough training is offered

One of the top ways to cut down on excessive help desks calls: Give BYOD users plenty of mobile device training to help them get the most out of their devices and minimize their questions and concerns. Many users in CDW’s survey complained they weren’t getting enough help and empowerment from IT.

While smartphones and tablets may seem simple to use for IT pros, there may be some users who are new to mobile technology and don’t yet grasp all the features and functions.

It may help to offer optional training for users, starting with the basics for those who need it. These sessions are also a good opportunity to offer more tips about how to keep those devices secure.

3. Network reliability is suffering

BYOD means that more devices are connecting to organizations’ networks — and the infrastructure is feeling the strain. According to 63% of the IT pros surveyed, their company’s bandwidth requirements are increasing thanks to to personal devices. In addition, 44% said they need to increase server capacity, while 39% are seeing increased latency.

While users may not be aware of the reasons behind those problems, the help desk is likely to get more calls and complaints, both from mobile users and those having problems with their work computers.

That’s why experts recommend companies take a long look at their networks and decide if any upgrades are needed before they start implementing a BYOD program.