Online instruction can extend to technical support to help reduce calls, costs

Online instruction can extend to technical support to help reduce calls, costs

Employee training is the most common form of Web-delivered education, but some application service providers also offer another kind of useful instruction'tech support.

Organizations that use the services such as those of Inc. typically want to reduce calls to their help desks or to their call centers. offers a large body of Web tutorials that address problems from creating a database to fixing network backup problems.

Users can sift through a hierarchical list of titles'starting with major categories such as hardware, software, operating system, Internet and handheld computing'to search for the topic they need help with.

The online tutorials can be reviewed on the Web or downloaded.

In addition, users of the service can choose step-by-step video tutorials.

'The same products can be used for different reasons,' said Mark Thompson, president of 'Our goal is to interact with our customers' users whether they are employees or customers to teach them more about how to serve themselves,' he said.

The primary goal is to reduce organizations' service and technical support costs, Thompson said.

Typically, organizations that use this service are large companies with many call centers, he said. They do not want to develop in-house expertise or the technology to deliver the needed online service support, Thompson said.

The tutorials provided by are determined by the customer's product line. For example, a Linux company Web site will only have Linux content, but a broad-based electronic commerce company may want a wide selection of content.

If users can't find the answers they need via the online tutorials or video courses, they can choose a live chat or correspondence with a technician via e-mail.

Pay the price

Pricing is transactional. A lot of associated database work is necessary to get the reporting requirements in place.

But, Thompson said, once a company signs up for the tutorial service, it only takes about a week to it get up and running effectively.

'Gina M. Roos

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