The Support Agent and how you can use it to make your life easier

  • Why the agent?
  • The Status of the agent.
  • Using the agent to get your machine information
  • Using the agent to submit a ticket
  • Change your machine description
  • Using privacy mode

Why the agent

The focus is moving from on-site, over the shoulder IT support to remote and automated assistance for a whole raft of reasons. Faster resolution, lower costs (travel, vehicles, equipment etc) and much more.

To enable this, as well as other functionality we have an “agent” installed on all appropriate machines. This enables us to :

  1. Run reports and audits
  2. Monitor the state of the machine
  3. Send messages to one, several or all machines.
  4. Schedule updates and patches
  5. Tech to user chat
  6. Remote control sessions
  7. Copying files to and from machines
  8. Updating registry entries
  9. Locking down machines
  10. ………and much more (again!)

So…..if the agent isn’t installed and running on your machine then there’s not much we can do to help. You’ll know if it is as there will be an icon in the system tray.

The Status of the agent

The icon in the system tray will change depending upon the status of the agent. Sometimes this can indicate a problem and other times it can show something is in progress.

Here’s a list of the icons and the brief description of the status.

(NOTE : The back-end system we use for the management is called the “AEM platform”)

Name Description
Online Managed Agent that is currently connected to the AEM platform.
Offline The Agent is not connected to the AEM platform.
Privacy Mode The Agent is currently connected to the AEM platform and has Privacy Mode enabled.
OnDemand Mode OnDemand Agent that is currently connected to the AEM platform.
Alert Mode Online The Agent is online and waiting for a job to be run by the end user.
Alert Mode Offline The Agent is offline and waiting for a job to be run by the end user.
Stopped The Agent service has stopped. No logging is performed at this time.
Active Screen Share (Shown with ‘Online’) A screen share session is currently in progress. The tray icon alternates between the Active Screen Share icon and the Online icon for the duration of the remote session.

 

Using the agent to get your machine info

Double clicking the agent icon will open up a window on your desktop which is called the “agent browser”.

As you’re not an Endpoint Management Administrator you can just ignore the login fields on the left.

On the right, you have three tabs.

1)      Summary – this shows you information that we often as you for but which you’d not necessarily know off the top of your head. We refer to machines by their name in the same way you refer to vehicles by VIN or registration. It also lists the operating system, the machine’s serial number, the currently logged on user and so on. Take a look as you can’t damage anything.

2)      Tasks – this is where we will have a list of tasks that you can fire off, either when requested by IT support or that we’ve pre-informed you about. For security reasons very few users have administrative rights on their machines. This just isn’t required unless you are a virus and want to infect a machine or you need to install an update or patch. We want to avoid the former but we hope to populate this with useful tasks you can invoke when you need them rather that raise a support ticket.

3)      Tickets – we like you to raise a ticket by email as the preferred method. However, despite a well designed and fairly simple support ticket procedure (which you can find on the Intranet) getting the basic information from users to allow us to know where to start troubleshooting is like getting blood from a stone. See below for how to submit a ticket from here to make both your and our live easier.Using the agent to submit a ticket

Using the agent browser, you can raise a ticket and it’ll populate it with much of the info we need and ask to explicitly for other relevant information. Furthermore, for tickets raised here you can add notes and close them from the same tab. (Please note, you don’t see the note you’ve added until later so click submit once only)

On the ticket tab clock on the New Ticket button and then just fill in the form that you are presented with. Simples!

 

Change your machine description

If you right click on the agent icon, the menu that pops up allows you to change the machine description. It won’t change the actual machine name, but you can write a short description that you can remember, and we’ll have logged against the machine name. Like having the vehicle with registration AL61 RDT known as “John’s yellow Porsche Carrera” for example.

 

Using Privacy Mode

For some staff such as senior management, HR and personnel there are times when you are working on something confidential and don’t want to be disturbed. You can use the Privacy mode to restrict IT access to your machine while you are doing this.  Privacy mode is avaialble from a right click on the system tray icon.

If you turn on privacy mode to surf dodgy websites then we have a klaxon that sounds at IT support and a screen showing your name.

You can choose to have it on, off or off for a specific period.

Wot! No Internet?

 

No Internet connectivity usually means you can’t carry on doing business. If you find yourself with no Internet, then here are some steps to go through before calling in a support ticket and a little bit of an explanation that could help speed along getting things sorted.

Firstly, you will have (usually one) piece of equipment connecting your network to the Internet which we call a router. It’ll have flashing lights on to indicate the status and what’s connected and/or working.

Do you know where this is? You need to be able to locate it and know how to cycle (turn off and then on) the power.

Some of your Internet connection is likely to be copper wire that’s decades old. So, reliability isn’t guaranteed. Therefore, be prepared to power cycle your router to resolve a variety of possible minor transient issues.

Being able to get on the Internet relies on two main services.

  1. The physical and electrical connection through your lines to the exchange and your ISP.
  2. A login by your router to your accounts at your ISP so enabling access to the Internet provision

 

Most routers will have a set of lights similar to this :

Here’s a brief explanation of what they indicate and what it probably means if they’re not on or maybe flashing red.

 

  • Power – should be pretty obvious. Has someone unplugged it, has a fuse blown or has the cleaner dislocated the mains plug with the vacuum?
  • Ethernet – this indicates the router’s connection to your internal network. If it’s off, then look for loose cables or problems with your network switch.
  • DSL – this shows the physical and electrical connection to the public network. If it’s off, check with your phone company, ISP (Internet Service Provider) and for loose or disconnected cables.
  • Internet – if DSL is on and this one is off it usually means ISP problems, you’ve not paid the bill your ISP are having problems.

 

So, if you lose your Internet connection here’s a sequence of actions to follow.

  • Check it’s affecting everyone, if not then you may have a PC issue
  • Check the router has power and is running – make a note of which lights are on and what colour they are.
  • Power cycle the router and wait 10 minutes before checking for a connection
  • Check with your ISP for problems or billing issues.
  • Call in a support ticket to Lorica (email using your phone/tablet/laptop) only if you can get Internet using 3G/4G or another connection.

Remember – if you’re using Office365 then go and find your favourite coffee shop and use their WiFi to carry on working while your competitors are pulling their hair out and losing business.

Raising a Support Ticket

We address issues, problems and service requests with tickets.

So, any issue has an associated ticket containing all the relevant communications, information and actions. This is for the benefit of our customers and ourselves. Please be aware it also tracks all the labour time involved and while this doesn’t incur any costs for our support clients it will lead to an invoice for our ad-hoc or other customers.

Below are details on tickets in two sections:

  1. How to raise a ticket
  2. What information to include

How to raise a ticket.

You can raise a new ticket by email or by calling our support helpline.

Raising a new ticket by email

This is the preferred method for the following reasons:

  • It is less time consuming and disruptive
  • Our automated system takes care of the creation, allocation and logging
  • You get immediate notification and any SLA is immediately triggered.

    You do this by sending us an email and adhering to the following points

    • Send it to support@lorica.net
      • You don’t need to send it to any other addresses. All support technicians can see the support mailbox so cc’ing any other contacts at Lorica is potentially just confusing.
    • Using the subject of your email to define a title for the new ticket
      • Please change the subject if you’re forwarding an email. A subject line of “FW: This is a great joke” is of little help.
      • If you’re communicating with regard to an existing ticket, please ensure the ticket number is included in the subject otherwise you’ll just create another new ticket

Raising a new ticket by phone

You’ll need to do this if your email, Internet of PC/phone are inoperative. If you want to discuss the issue or explain verbally in more detail, please raise the ticket by email and then give us a call and quote the ticket number.

What information to include

Check the following bullet points as you raise a ticket – the more information you can provide the faster things are likely to get sorted out.

  • Describe in detail the issue, problem or requirement
  • Include screenshots or images
  • Detail when it started occurring
  • Explain who it affects and under what circumstances

Office365 Credentials

You have a set of Office365 credentials which permit you access to the services.

IMPORTANT : You need to know these and be able to use them on the portal

( http://portal.office.com )

They consist of a username and a password.

 

 

 

 

Your tenancy name is appended to “onmicrosoft.com” as the full reference and we try and combine this with your first and last names to make your username.

So, for Fred Bloggs at Acme Corp the username would be FredBloggs@acme.onmicrosoft.com . Yes, this looks like an email address and you will receive any emails directed at it.

It’s also possible to allocate your own domain name as your email address. So if Fred has an email address of fred@acme.com then we could set that as the Office 365 username.

We prefer not to do so for the following reasons:

  • Your company might have several domains, acme.com and acmeexplosives.co.uk for example so remembering which one is your Office365 username could be a problem.
  • We automate some of our admin tasks using scripts and programs and having a standard username format makes this feasible
  • Using your own domain name means logging on won’t work if there are any DNS problems. Just another thing to go wrong!
  • People might not easily guess your Office365 username if they know your email address and are attempting to hack your account.

Signing in to the Office 365 portal

Office 365 is a cloud service, which means it’s hosted “somewhere else” and this has one very significant advantage. It’s not dependant on anything you own or maintain.

So, as long as you have access to a web browser (Internet Explorer/Edge, Chrome or Firefox) you can log in to the service and use most of the functionality.

To do so, you need your Office365 credentials, which consist of a username and password.

Then go to the URL for the portal, which is https://portal.office.com and login.

Here is a Microsoft tutorial page on signing in.

Sending us an email as an attachment NOT by forwarding it.

When you have an email delivery fail and you receive what’s correctly called an NDR (Non Delivery Report) or colloquially know as a “bounce back” you need to send them on to us as an attachment and NOT just forward them. if you forward them, we only get the text of the message and not the message in its entirety.

Attach an Outlook item to a message

You can attach Outlook items (item: An item is the basic element that holds information in Outlook (similar to a file in other programs). Items include e-mail messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.), such as other email messages, tasks, contacts or calendar items, to a message. This is the easiest way to forward multiple items or messages.

  • Create a message, or for an existing message, click ReplyReply All, or Forward.
  • In the message window, click Message.
  • In the Include group, click Attach Item.

  • Do one of the following:
    • Point to Business Card, and then click Other Business Cards. Click a contact, and then click OK. To select multiple contacts, press and hold Ctrl as you click each contact.
    • Click Calendar. Select the calendar, date range, and detail to include. For Advanced options, click Show. Click OK to add the calendar to your message.
    • Click Outlook Item. Browse through your folder list to find the folder that contains the item that you want to attach. Under Items, click the item, and then click OK.

Tip: When composing a message, you can also attach files by using the commands on the Insert tab in the Include group, or drag files from folders on your computer and drop them on the message window.

Tip: You can also drag an item, such as an email, from Outlook onto an open message that you are editing and it will be attached.

Temporary Remote Access

Most of our support is accomplished without time consuming and expensive site visits through remote access using our RMM (Remote Management and Monitoring) agent, a small program that silently runs in the background on machines that are under contract. If you don’t have this installed, perhaps it’s a new PC or you’re looking for assistance with a machine not under contract, then there’s an alternative method for you to allow us remote access on a temporary basis.

This is done by downloading and installing the TeamViewer Quick Support program.

Please be aware this is for our non-commercial customers only. For business usage Teamviewer requires a license purchase.


 
 

http://download.teamviewer.com/download/TeamViewerQS.exe

Click on that and then accept any invitations to run or install. Once it’s installed you’ll be given an ID and a numerical password, both of which you need to pass to us in a secure manner.

Types of Support Tickets

Our support system revolves around a single important concept.

Each issue, problem, request or whatever equates to one ticket. That’s how we track what has been done, what needs to be done, who’s said what to whom and how much time we’ve spent.

So, it’s an important part of our support procedure that you, as the customer, keeps track of the ticket number that relates to your request. It should be on any emails you’ve received relating to the issue and you should ask for it if you call in. We have a supply of post-it notes where you can record a ticket number and details of the issue and stick it on your monitor, laptop or in your wallet or diary.

 

  • Issue – a single issue that needs to be addressed
  • Problem – A whole group of issues that have their root cause in one problem
  • Service Request – nothing wrong, but a request to do something such as updates or changes

 

Email Ticket Submission

Our support mailbox which receives any and all emails sent to the address support@lorica.net is not necessarily monitored. It is however, central to our automated support email handling system. Any emails arriving into the mailbox are processed immediately and there are two possible actions.

  1. If the subject of the email DOES NOT contain a valid Lorica support ticket number, the following happens:
  2. If there is a ticket number, then your email is added to the ticket, the status of the ticket changes so we know you’ve been in touch and the ticket pops to the top of the queue.

 
 

An email to create a new ticket (please note the helpful information supplied)

An email to update a current open ticket :

Remote Management Agent

Lorica use an RMM (Remote monitoring and management) system to assist us with maintaining your machines. For those clients on a support contract the costs associated with this agent are included with your subscription. For those who aren’t, we’ll install the agent on your PC so it’s available when we need it but disable it in our system so we don’t incur licencing fees.

You can leave the agent enabled on your machine but for peace of mind and to reduce load on your PC you might want to disable it. Don’t forget to re-enable it if you need us to perform any work.

Disable it by changing the start up for the following services from “automatic” to “disabled”.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755249.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396


The services you need to change are shown in the picture above in green.