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Remote customer support

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I'm looking at a commercial product to help remotely support my clients. I work in home user support for the most part - and 'cause this is business related I'll report my post right after I submit it just in case it's against forum rules.

 

I've attempted to use a few of the cheaper commercial products like Techinline, RemotePC, SimpleHelp and ScreenConnect but they're all fairly difficult for the customer to install or just plain don't work properly. The fact they require a certain amount of technical savvy to install on the client/customer end means they are essentially useless - remote control support is really for people who have trouble following instructions over the phone... setting up VNCs, VPNs, or Microsofts RDP is just insanely impractical (although I have used them in the past - but only when I was on site to set them up).

 

The only real contenders I've found are Bomgar, GoToAssist Express and LogMeIn Rescue.

 

The thing about them is, they're not cheap. I haven't got any pricing information on Bomgar yet, and they don't advertise prices, which basically means it's going to be more expensive than the other options. General talk about them on the web suggests this is correct, and may be up to triple LMI Rescue. LogMeIn Rescue is about $110/month (with a 14 month commitment) or $1430/14 months. I can get GoToAssist Express for ~$52/month or ~$500/year thanks to the fact I was signed up to the Beta (normally about $750).

 

First up, none of the programs are incredibly simple on the customer side. When I say that, I mean every single person on this forum would think it's insanely simple. But I regularly deal with people who don't know what a double click is, so imagine their consternation at having to allow a plugin to be installed in IE8 or something similar. However these three are relatively simple and only require a few clicks on the customers behalf which shouldn't be too hard to guide them through over the phone.

 

I haven't yet fully trialled the Bomgar product nor read through all the documentation, so I can't say much about it yet. It looks like a similar product to GoToAssist on the surface and their seem to be very limited options from the defaults.

 

GoToAssist Express is a decent, basic program. It can't send a email straight to the customer, you have to use your own mail client (annoying for me, since I do all my emailing via webmail, but easy enough to work around). It appears you can't customise the template for the email, you just have to edit it each time. The installation is easy enough client side, although my test-guinea-pig (my mother) did install it several times because she didn't think it had worked the first time. For reference, my mother's computer savvy-ness is low, but probably higher than most sixty-something year olds. The responsiveness of the remote session was quite sluggish even with all the low detail/high performance boxes ticked, but workable. The unattended support install option is handy and would certainly be useful in setting up sessions while the customer is at work or the like. The file transfer and diagnostics options are useful, but not all that impressively so. The text chat feature works - not really anything else to say about that.

 

So far LogMeIn Rescue appears to be the best of the three products. This is in large part due to the Calling Card, ID customisation options, relatively well written and comprehensive user guides and decent customer support. They also seem to be actively adding features, which GoToAssist don't appear to be doing. The sessions are noticeably more responsive than GTA-E, even with high details on. You can customise virtually every aspect of the customer experience - using your logos and your templates in place of LogMeIn's default ones, including integrating session requests into your own website. It can also record video of each session without any fuss or extra bandwidth usage, a tool that may come in handy for training or simply helping out when invoicing. It's also built so that expansion is an easy option - adding extra technicians and administrators, while expensive, is simple and may well be useful in the long run.

 

As enamored as I am with the function of LMI Rescue, $1430 isn't exactly chump change. Especially since it'll likely cut into my business at first (no more call-out fee charges). In the long run it's a potential boon - I'll no longer need to restrict my customer base, I can advertise wider and simply refer on or turn down call-out work that's out of my range, while still supporting other users. It'll make support contracts more viable - something I've never really dabbled in because home users rarely need one. GTA-E does the job. Not as elegantly, but as reliably. And it's basically 1/3 the price.

 

So I ask for opinion, experiences, thoughts and diatribes. Give them me!

Edited by tantryl

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Had a look at any of the VNC named products?

In particular I am thinking of TightVNC portable.

http://www.tightvnc.com/portable/

A google for portable VNC or just VNC should give heaps of results.

The advantage of the portable versions is of course they do not need installing.

However like a lot of other remote desktop solutions I have found the VNC types to also be rather sluggish in response.

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http://www.teamviewer.com/licensing/index.aspx is ace. I haven't used any other of the options you list (except the LogMeIn remote access stuff, but not the sepcific rescue one), but Team Viewer I used the other day is most fantastic and incredibly easy.

 

From the client end, they put a URL in the bar, the "open/save" box will come up, they click open. Wait for it to download and they get given a number and a password to quote - you put that in your box, and bam, you have their screen.

 

No administrative rights are needed. Uninstallation is deleting the program.

 

It appears cheaper than the other ones you've looked at too.

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Had a look at any of the VNC named products?

Since I've used various VNCs many times over the years, I'm going to hazard a guess that this one would still need the customer to give me their IP address, and create firewall/NAT rules to allow traffic over a certain port.

 

While it would work, I repeat:

 

.. they require a certain amount of technical savvy to install on the client/customer end means they are essentially useless - remote control support is really for people who have trouble following instructions over the phone... setting up VNCs, VPNs, or Microsofts RDP is just insanely impractical (although I have used them in the past - but only when I was on site to set them up).

http://www.teamviewer.com/licensing/index.aspx is ace. I haven't used any other of the options you list (except the LogMeIn remote access stuff, but not the sepcific rescue one), but Team Viewer I used the other day is most fantastic and incredibly easy.

Hmm. For some reason I thought I'd already tried it. Certainly given the website a long look over. But I haven't actually trialled it. I'll give it a go!

 

Heavy up front cost, but the lack of ongoing subscription evens that out...

 

*EDIT* Ooohhh, it's got customisable ID and integrated VoiP! Even LMI-R doesn't have VoiP!

Edited by tantryl

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OK. TeamViewer Premium has raced to the top of the list. Thanks sirsquidness.

 

You can customise the install program and easily host it on your own site, it's secure, it's responsive, it can record sessions in video, it has voice chat, even webcam video sharing, the Manager application provides great summaries of each session, it's fairly easy for a customer to start a session, unattended sessions are a little tougher to set up but not too bad, and it has a one-off cost.

 

Although the one-off cost isn't quite accurate. TeamViewer 5 was released in December 2009. They only started with Teamviewer 1 in 2005. So presumably they come out with a new version every year or so. Based on the version upgrade pricing you're looking at ~$500 each year if you want the latest version or ~$650 every second year if you don't mind skipping out on a version.

 

Which puts it back in line as somewhere between GoToAssist and LogMeIn Rescue in terms of cost.

Edited by tantryl

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I know a guy in Europe who used a program that kinda combined soups with remote viewer was very basic just required skype I think. Was called yugu or something similiar.

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Have you looked at ShowMyPC?

 

Used it a few years ago and it worked OK. Recall it had problems if other VNC software was running on the system. Hopefully it's been fixed. It was free back then too, looks like it still is.

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Free for basic usage, and cheap as chips for "pro" usage ($US14/month). The free version looks like a TightVNC wrapper routed through their SSH server. But since it utilises the portable TVNC version it's easy to download and run, and only ~1.2MB. Plus the pro version has customisation and some other fun features. Cool.

 

Will certainly test it out, 'cause at the moment the options are TeamViewer (for ~$1500 + ~$500 each upgrade/year) or GTA-E (~$500/year), versus this for ~$150/year.

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in all seriousness, look for portable apps for VNC and write yourself a short batch file.

 

The beauty? because its portable the 'config' file will be kept with the program.

 

This means you can set passwords and everything else to be as you want.

 

In your batch file, you'd write things to add the programs ports to the windows firewall.

 

PERSONALLY, I just use Buri (portable Hamachi) then MSTSC

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I use LogMeIn Rescue, not cheap but very effective, the only qualm about it I have is that ATM it needs to be launched from a windows box or VM on IE.

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We Bomgar at work for supporting all our satellite & wireless customers. Its pretty good!

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We Bomgar at work for supporting all our satellite & wireless customers. Its pretty good!

Any idea on the license costs (for everything routed through their servers, not using one of their "box" products)?

 

I just let the trial lapse because I couldn't be fucked learning a system when I had no price range to compare it against.

 

I use LogMeIn Rescue, not cheap but very effective, the only qualm about it I have is that ATM it needs to be launched from a windows box or VM on IE.

It seems to work fine in Firefox 3.6 on Win7. Haven't tried any other platforms. But yeah, LMI-R and TeamViewer 5 are the best products so far. And LMI-R is more polished, while TV5 has the advantage of built in voice & video chat.

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We use Bomgar at work for supporting all our satellite & wireless customers. Its pretty good!

Any idea on the license costs (for everything routed through their servers, not using one of their "box" products)?

 

I just let the trial lapse because I couldn't be fucked learning a system when I had no price range to compare it against.

 

 

 

I'll ask tomorrow : )

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Thanks mudg3.

 

I've just had the opportunity to compare ShowMyPC, TeamViewer 5 and LogMeIn Rescue with a crappy connection - my parents in Bali. The connection has poor upload & download speeds and beyond that fluctuates in ping and speed regardless of what you're doing.

 

SMPC - worked. Very poor response though, you wait around 10 seconds for the screen to catch up with a click.

TV5 - worked. Bad response, you wait around 6 seconds for the screen to catch up with a click.

LMIR - worked. Poor response, you wait around 3-5 seconds for the screen to catch up with a click.

 

LMIR was the clear winner in responsiveness, confirming my previous feelings on faster connections.

 

SMPC was frustrating. I'll be trying it with local, normal, faster connection in the next day or two, just to see how it goes with them. Hopefully it performs a lot better, 'cause otherwise it's really not worth the time.

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SMPC was frustrating. I'll be trying it with local, normal, faster connection in the next day or two, just to see how it goes with them. Hopefully it performs a lot better, 'cause otherwise it's really not worth the time.

There's an option to buy it outright and use your own SSH server. A local (closer to you the better) SSH server would probably solve the delay.

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Indonesia was probably the biggest problem. I tried a local one today, and it was a bit mediocre compared to the other products but fine. If I pay the $14/month (still testing using the free one) I can have it routed through their Aussie server which I'm sure will improve things.

 

I did run into a major problem though - whenever the computer I was connected to (Win 7 HP 64-bit) popped up a UAC box it disconnected, and I couldn't reconnect until the person on site hit Allow/Block/Whatever. Apparently this has been a problem for quite some time, and pretty much makes the product unviable for me since it's highly unlikely there'll be many sessions where I don't have to, for example, install a program (which will pop up the UAC).

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Hi there

I work as helpdesk from time to time and use Radmin Remote Control (www.radmin.com). Works brill and Ihave never had any troubles.

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I did run into a major problem though - whenever the computer I was connected to (Win 7 HP 64-bit) popped up a UAC box it disconnected, and I couldn't reconnect until the person on site hit Allow/Block/Whatever.

Also an issue with Windows Remote Assistance. Did a remote the other day to my brothers PC (From Vista 64 to vista 32 bit, both home premium). Every time a UAC prompt came up my view of his screen went black.

Suppose it could be seen as a security of some sort but damn it was annoying.

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Hi all,

 

I have (Aust) bomgar pricing if you are interested as one of our colleagues got a quote around December 09. I don't understand why these companies are so cagy about their pricing! Other than them knowing that it is over priced but they have to sell you on the 'value add' first.

Disclaimer: I'm not a sales person, read the website and ask questions to bomgar. This info is just from the quote and what I understand from discussions etc.

 

Anyway there are 2 units.

bm100 - up to 5 concurrent technicians, desktop PC size unit, 100 jump points (remote connect to pc without person), unlimited technicians just 5 max at the same time.

Appliance cost: $2190 + $438 (1 year device maintenance)

Includes 1 user license free + $548 (user maintenance and support)

Each Additional user license $2742 + $548 (user maintenance and support)

 

Annually thereafter - Just maintenance costs device + user + user.

 

So First year for 2 concurrent licenses: ($2190 + 438) + (548) + (2742 + 548) = $6466 ex GST

Every year after for 2 concurrent: (438) + (548) + (548) = $1534 ex GST

 

bm200 - up to 20 concurrent licenses, 1U rack unit, 1000 jump points etc

Appliance cost: $2190 + $438 (1 year device maintenance)

Each Additional user license $2742 + $548 (user maintenance and support)

 

Annually thereafter - Just maintenance costs device + user + user.

 

So First year for 2 concurrent licenses: ($2190 + 438) + (2742 + 548) + (2742 + 548) = $9208 ex GST

Every year after for 2 concurrent: (438) + (548) + (548) = $1534 ex GST

 

The actual product is very good and does reporting unlike the others (that I know of). But I do understand that it can be hard to justify the expense.

 

Cheers.

Ant.

Edited by adam-ant

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Hey adam. I appreciate the post, but that's not the service I'm looking at. But I'm sure someone will find it useful.

 

Although it's worth noting LMI-R, GoToAssist Express & Corporate and TeamViewer Premium & Corporate all include reporting.

 

*EDIT* And about my selection process:

 

I'd pretty much decided on TeamViewer Business until I realised it requires full installation as a service before the reboot and reconnect functions would work. Which means the installation process for the client would be far too long and complicated.

 

Which leaves LMI-R and GoToAssist:Express.

 

LMI-R is better, GTA:E one third the price. So I'll probably start off with GTA:E.

Edited by tantryl

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I don't use the commercial version of TeamViewer but I use the free one for connecting to my home and uni PCs when travelling. Connecting from England to Australia was under a second lag time (through two university connections either side) and easily bypassed the firewalls as it wrapps the data in a http header and sends it through the unblocked http port (something you don't easily get with TightVNC)

 

A very handy program indeed. I'm also interested in LogMeIn as it has a client for iPhone.

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