Dealing with support requests is something Technical Account Managers (TAMs) do on a regular basis. For the most part, they go according to a pretty well-rehearsed script. A Support Request (SR) is logged, a support engineer is engaged, the TAM manages the issue according to SLAs and customer requirements, and a resolution is provided. The case is then closed. I feel as though 99% of my support cases go this way, but sometimes an issue is so challenging and unique that a different approach is required.
For customers with Mission Critical Support, the solution may be to provide an onsite engineer. In these unusual and often critical cases, a skilled engineer sitting with our customers at the source location can be crucial. This situation provides the VMware team with a resource who is familiar with the case and internal support procedures—and has direct access to the customers’ site. It can be a game changer for a tough support request and provide a quicker time to resolution.
But that is not all it can do. Because Mission Critical Support includes a Technical Account Manager, we are all about being as proactive as possible, and having an engineer onsite provides further opportunity for us to do this.
Prior to the onsite visit, we set the priorities. Because the visit is typically very short and focused, and contains objectives for the Support Request, it is a priority. We also discuss and include other relevant items for the onsite time that will complement the issue we are working on. In addition, we set up the customer’s environment to be in a better state than when we arrived so it is more manageable and exposes potential issues. This provides both the customer and support with analysis and troubleshooting capabilities that may apply to future issues, while also providing additional knowledge for the VMware team and the customer.
During the onsite, the MCS engineer and the TAM have many tools available to them. These are used to diagnose the current issue and can be used in real time, reinforcing the value of having the engineer and TAM onsite with the customer during this critical period. The engineer is also in direct contact with their support counterparts, including engineering and development teams who might be working on the same issue elsewhere, even if it’s in another geo. This enables them to exchange information firsthand, making the process scalable and efficient for all involved.
Organizing an onsite for a customer with Mission Critical Support is challenging, expensive, and time consuming for both sides. Implementing them as part of our Mission Critical Support—and managed by the Technical Account Manager—facilitates a much closer relationship between both parties that not only helps with the current issue that the customer is experiencing, but also sets us up for future success in eliminating or minimizing potential issues.
Neil Isserow is a Team Lead TAM for VMware based in California.