GoToAssist Widens Tech Support Options - Page 2

Citrix Systems Inc.s GoToAssist 7.0 is a handy managed service for providing virtual on-site support. GoToAssist 7.0 allows organizations of any size to efficiently provide quality tech support while keeping an eye on the entire process.

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GoToAssist 7.0, released in October, includes a new Managers Dashboard that allows administrators to monitor incoming queries and enhances their ability to monitor customer satisfaction. The Dashboard also extends help desk agents ability to address user concerns with expanded integration APIs.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we found the product very easy to use. However, organizations looking to cut desktop support costs by providing remote service may find GoToAssist 7.0 to be cost-prohibitive. With prices ranging from $115 to $325 per month per tech support agent, GoToAssist 7.0 is not cheap. Each agent can assist an unlimited number of users, however, which does cushion the cost a bit.

By comparison, competitor WebEx Communications Inc.s hosted WebEx Support Center costs $149 per month per agent with a one-year contract. However, WebEx limits to four the number of support sessions an agent can tackle simultaneously. Volume discounts for WebEx Support Center and GoToAssist 7.0 are available and kick in starting at two or more seats.

Although GoToAssist 7.0 supports any browser, we were disappointed to discover that it still does not support Linux, Unix or Apple Computer Inc.s Mac OS X operating systems. Users and agents must be running Microsoft Corp.s Windows 95 or later. However, we could use the service to access servers running Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server.

When users have an issue that requires help desk assistance, they access a configurable Web page, which enterprises can incorporate into an existing support center Web site by URL or code.

Once a user submits a question, a customer agent receives a notification via the GoToAssist HelpAlert application that runs on the desktop. Agents use the HelpAlert application to monitor incoming queries, and it can be used to determine how much time passes between when a support question is submitted and when it is picked up.

Once a GoToAssist agent accepts a question, an instant messaging window pops up, allowing the agent to communicate immediately with the user. At this time, the user is also directed to download a small plug-in that enables the user to share his or her desktop with the agent.

To secure communications between the user and the agent, Citrix maintains Web servers that generate AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) session keys to agents and their customers. The communications between agents and customers are secured through a 128-bit AES-encrypted channel. The user is asked to give permission for access and is notified that the support agent will have access to desktop files.

Agents can share or control the users machine to troubleshoot PC issues, run system diagnostics and transfer files between the two machines.

Although the agent has access to a users computer once the session is initiated, the user remains in control of the session at all times. The session can be terminated by either party, and control of the mouse can be taken away from the agent at any time.

As an agent, we could remotely reboot a users machine if necessary. After a reboot, once the users machine reloaded Windows, the connection between the two computers was re-established. This was particularly useful in situations where software installations that required a reboot—such as with anti-virus software—were necessary.

We also could share our agent desktop with users. This came in handy when we wanted to use GoToAssist as a remote support tutorial mechanism to show, for example, how to access certain areas of Windows or how to configure TCP/IP. We used GoToAssists new Session Transfer feature to transfer sessions seamlessly between agents with different skill sets.

GoToAssist 7.0 offers several enhancements that will enable managers to stay informed of how quickly action is taken and whether agent performance meets expectations. For example, the Managers Dashboard lets executives monitor incoming queries and build reports to determine customer satisfaction. We were also able to use the management console to replay support sessions.

In addition, GoToAssists expanded APIs enable organizations to integrate IM with knowledge-base applications or third-party customer-facing support applications.

This integration will undoubtedly be a welcome feature for organizations that might already have customer-support applications installed.

Another new API allows organizations to integrate technician status information to workflow systems to ensure support requests are answered in a timely and efficient manner.

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