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The Right Way: Support.com Does Tech Support Anywhere, and Their Employees Are Everywhere

By: Unknown / Monday, October 29, 2012

Our series "The Right Way" profiles RightSignature power users, revealing their success secrets and the technology tools they use every day.

Support.com is so effective at tech support, they may have already serviced your computer, phone, tablet or network, and you didn't even know it was them. After years of experience with consumer technology services, Support.com has expanded into partnerships with some big names in both retail stores and broadband services to bring top-of-the-line tech support to the people. RightSignature's Steve Stormoen sat down with Support.com HR Director Ericka Tate to learn more about this quietly spectacular company and their ambitiously large remote workforce.

What's the story of Support.com?

Ericka Tate: Basically, we fix computers. But now everything works like a computer. So when something goes wrong with your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, you've got a virus or you need a tune-up, or you need help getting your wireless network set up, we're able to remotely connect and take care of all that.

We provide our services to consumers and small businesses in two ways: first, under our own name as Support.com, and secondly, through white label partnerships with a lot of different companies that include leading retailers, broadband service providers and technology companies. Their customers don't necessarily don't know that it's us, but that's the beauty of a white label partnership. They don't know who we are and they don't really need to. They just need to know that they can go to the local big box store and get their computer fixed.

We started those partnerships in retail world, but more recently we've expanded into broadband world as well. Support.com started 12-13 years ago, but back then we were known as SupportSoft, and we did software development. In 2009, we sold that part of the company and set off on our path exclusively as a consumer technology services company. We now have over 1100 employees and the vast majority—80 to 90% of them—work remotely. I lead the HR functions for the company, and that gets to be quite a task.

How do you use RightSignature?

ET: RightSignature is essential to me and my team. Like I said, 90% of our employees work remotely. We have had to figure out a way to make it cost efficient to have a remote workforce. Back in the old days, when we started with a remote support workforce in 2007-08, we had to overnight paperwork back and forth because people at home don't necessarily have a fax machine. That's costly and not efficient and... well, there's a whole other list of things wrong with that. So we found RightSignature and now we use it to do our first day paperwork. We use it for other areas as well, for paperwork between legal and engineers, but the overwhelming majority is for our new hire paperwork. It's really essential to our onboarding process.

There have been times where we've had to hire 100 people in a week, which also means we have to onboard 100 people, all in a week. If you use RightSignature, it all happens at your pace. There's no waiting for FedEx guy to come, or freaking out when the fax machine is out of paper or is jammed or what have you. We're all about automation, and you just can't have the hiring ramps that we do if you've got paper everywhere.

The other great thing about RightSignature is the efficiency of it—every document comes back complete when you're able to use RightSignature versus email or fax. People always miss something when they do it manually. It allows for errors. When we get the paperwork back with RightSignature we know it's completed and every box that needs to be checked has been checked.

We used to have a different e-signature company we worked with as well, but they had a sort of dinosaur system. It wasn't accurate, and it allowed people to pass the things we needed them to fill out. We finally got rid of it and now use RightSignature for everything. So we've had experience with RightSignature as well as with other companies and we can honestly say that RightSignature is the best.

What has been your biggest success, and how did you get there?

ET: I speak from the staffing, human element from it, but my biggest success has been twofold. One is to be able to hire as many people as we've hired—hundreds and hundreds of employees, completely remotely. Today, we do most everything virtual, from hiring to training to our service, and not many companies are able to do that.

The other thing is that we hire throughout the US. I have 100 employees in Georgia that I've never met and probably never will. We as society are very driven by forms and paperwork, so completing I-9 forms and do payroll forms for everyone has not been easy. But to be able to say we have 900 employees where everything is 100% virtual is a great success.

My other great success has been designing that hiring process. I had to figure out how to get that I-9 in front of the new hire without sinking $100 in shipping costs. That's been a big success of mine, and something I take pride in.

What does the future hold for Support.com?

ET: When we were first penetrating the retail market, I would have never thought there would be space or room for us in broadband.

Now we're penetrating that market as well. 3 years ago it wouldn't have made sense to partner with a cable company, but now people don't just have a PC, they have their phones and their tablets, and people want their computer and their mobile devices all bundled together. So now, it makes perfect sense. With the premium of technology services we offer, I think the future for us is in markets we never would have dreamed of. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next broadband is—it's an exciting time for us.

As society gets more and more technology advanced, we will be there to grow with that. Devices will always get smaller and thinner and better but they will always need support. There will always be a level where the regular person's knowledge taps out, and they need to turn to the expert. Support.com is that expert.

In addition to RightSignature, which other online tools do you use the most?

ET: We use a lot of them because we have a virtual workforce. First, we use eVerify to verify employment for all our employees. And I couldn't go a day without our applicant tracking system, JobVite. Probably the other one would be HireRight, to do background checks on all our employees.

When you're dealing with people's computers, with their phones, you have to have a high standard for your employees, even if they work remotely.


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