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I was cleaning up some of my old notes today in One Note.  Some of these notes go back to my previous employment when among other things I was doing technical support on a enterprise application integration (EAI) tool.  The very nature of the tool meant that most of the support issues were related to custom code whether consultant or in-house created.

The company where I was employed had some basic guidelines for support, but they were terse and more aligned to the ERP software which started them out.  That lead me to create some guidelines that branched from their guidelines.  These were not officially supported guidelines, but they were necessary for the goal of taking care of the customers.

Obviously, there's a fine line between taking care of the customer, breaking the rules, getting walked on, and so on.  These guidelines were honed from years of working with that tool in the technical support, development, and general consulting roles.  Hopefully, some of you will find them useful.

  1. Expected time
    1. Don’t provide solutions or answers that would take more than 15 minutes.
    2. Provide a starting point or simple example if a solution or answer would take more than 15 minutes, if possible.
  2. Solution content
    1. Don't provide solutions or answers for questions that involve domain expertise. This may step on the toes of consulting, and if they cannot figure it out on their own then they should be using our consulting services.
    2. Provide information to get the user started on their own, or references to documentation if appropriate.
    3. Provide generic programming or application help that would not take more than 15 minutes.
  3. Customer history
    1. Disregard prior rules if the customer has utilized consulting or training services that would have or should have addressed the request in question.
    2. Disregard or stretch the rules for a customer that consistently utilizes our services unless the generosity is being abused.
  4. Customer attitude
    1. Attempt to win the hearts and minds of customers that have a good attitude. It is possible to loosen the purse strings.
    2. Avoid providing solutions or answers above the support program provided support to customers that are belligerent or subversive. These customers often use anything against you, and will demand the same level of service later.
  5. Expectations
    1. Always inform the customer that you're going beyond the support provided by the support program.
    2. Take any opportunity appropriate to inform the customer what they get for their money, so they don't feel like their being "nickeled and dimed".
  6. Consulting
    1. Always make the consultant feel like a priority.
    2. Take any opportunity to let the consultant look like a "hero".
    3. Perform as much work on consultant cases remotely, so that the consultant can move on to other tasks.
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2008 2:23 PM | Back to top

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