Posts in The ‘Customer Care’ Category

The Value of Good Technical Support

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Companies have had to cut back on expenses to survive these difficult economic times. But when you cut back on technical support, you put your organization at risk in more ways than one; money saved today can mean catastrophic expenses tomorrow.

To illustrate the point, we offer real-world examples of what could happen if you go bargain shopping for support.

Reputation
The reputation that took you years to build and the one you worked so hard to protect is tainted or destroyed because you couldn’t connect with an actual person on the phone to solve your downtime issue. The tech guy finally calls you back five hours later (hey, at least it was the same day) but up until then, your online shopping cart was down…not only did you get hundreds of irate customer calls within that time frame, customers couldn’t make a purchase. You lost millions. Your customers were so frustrated, they went somewhere else. Some of them even posted their experience on Facebook.

Good luck getting that business back again.

Legal Implications
Say you have a problem with your backups. For some reason, all the data isn’t being backed up and you don’t know why. You call tech support. They don’t know either because they only have experience with Windows. Unfortunately, your tech environment is running more than just Windows…you also have Macs, UNIX machines, and Linux. Your tech support can’t fix the problem because they don’t understand how each component works together as a blended solution…a very expensive blended solution. Again, they only do Windows.

In the meantime, your corporate lawyers are searching for docs that will serve as evidence for a litigation case against the company. Well, they can’t find them because they were never backed up. Not only does the company lose the lawsuit, but they are fined $100,000 for violating compliance regulations because they could not disclose the needed information. Oops. But they just found out that their backups weren’t working. Doesn’t matter…ignorance is not admissible in court.

Revenue Loss
What if you relied heavily on your ecommerce site – this was your money-making baby. Ugh oh, it just went down…don’t know why. We need technical support and fast. Unfortunately, all you can do is leave a message because your tech guy happens to be out to lunch. Considering you get over 250,000 site visits an hour…60% are purchases. Ouch. That was one expensive lunch!

Customer Retention
Not being able to access your services when they need it most, whether it be via website, ATM, email, or phone, not only sinks your credibility, but also severely reduces the customer’s confidence level in your ability to deliver. Why would they take a chance with you if your website is always down? When there are so many choices in the marketplace, your customers can always find another provider.

Good technical support helps you maximize your customer service efforts, building loyal customers that trust you. Poor technical support has the opposite affect and sends your customers running to the competition.

One minute. One hour. One day. If you can’t access your business-critical information or if systems go down, your reputation, customer experience, and revenue are at serious risk. When each minute counts, you need a good technical support team to stand behind your business and get you back up and running fast. Shop wisely.

Customer Care: More Than Just a Service

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

A lot of IT vendors and service providers talk about their “customer care” business.  In most cases, Customer Care is simply the name of a call center support business unit that addresses technical issues, focusing on internal benchmarks like call hold times, abandon rates, agent utilization, etc.  But how many of these companies really take that business unit name to heart?  How many of them really, truly care

In truth, Customer Care should be more than just a service your IT vendor provides.  It should be a practice that is demonstrated consistently, at every interaction with you.  It should be part of the company culture — part of who they are.  Caring for the customer, whether it be resolving a discrete technical issue, clarifying a billing question or discussing an overall business problem, should be evident whenever you engage with your IT business partner.

At Consonus, Customer Care has been at the heart of our success for over 20 years.  While we do have a business unit by that name, to us Customer Care has always been something much more than that.  It is the very first of our Core Values.  It is something we look for and cultivate in our people, at all levels of the company, regardless of the amount of contact he or she may have with the customer throughout the course of any given day.  It is our culture. 

For in the end, caring is a two-way street.  If a company doesn’t care about you, why would you care about doing business with them?

Charles Cooley
Director – Quality Process Improvement/Cost Productivity

Growing Your Data Center Garden

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I can tell you from personal experience, gardening isn’t quite as easy as the home improvement shows make it look. Sure, everything looks good right after planting, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. You’ve got to work at maintaining your garden to keep it looking good. The same can be said for your IT environment. Here’s a suggested maintenance schedule to help make sure your data center keeps the weeds at bay.

Fall
It’s time to start planning for next year. Take inventory of your assets and review your support contracts to make sure you’ve got what you expect. Knowing this, helps when it comes to renewal time at the end of the year. Then start preparing for next year using your capacity planning data. How much storage do you need to ask for? Is it time to upgrade that server?  How are you going to provide more in the coming year? Would it make sense to look at relocating your data center? Better to think about it now than in December when you’re arguing over the budget.

Winter
While the rest of the company is planning a (or on) vacation, it’s time to catch up on the reading. Read up and get ahead on some of those projects you started planning in the fall. If you’re planning on upgrading or patching your environment, thumb through the install guide and check out the pre-requisites so you’re not caught off guard!

Spring
It’s time to put those fall plans into action. Lay the groundwork for a successful season by getting the big tasks out of the way first. Kick off major projects and get as much done as you can, early. If you planned right, your summer will be busy and productive — you don’t need more work piling up.  Also, take snapshots of where you are starting. It will be good to compare how you’ve progressed throughout the year.

Summer
Resources tend to go on vacation during this time, so hopefully you’re ready for it. It’s a good time to see how you’re doing with your plans and correct as needed to ensure success. Continue measuring what changes in your environment.

Of course, these seasons may run together in your IT environment and change depending on how your business operates. However, it’s still important to have a solid, strategic IT plan and follow it to make sure you’ve done all you can to have a successful year.

Happy gardening and good luck!

Trey Askew
Customer Care Manager

A Cloud Success Story

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The hype about cloud service models is overwhelming — so much information has been published and still companies are unsure how to take advantage of this delivery option. Rather than run down a list of benefits, the best and simplest way to show the capabilities and positive gains of cloud computing is to take a look at a real-world cloud scenario involving remote backup.

Situation:
This international provider of payment processing solutions services approximately 3,500 financial institutions across six different continents. But with a limited internal IT department, the business found it harder and harder to meet the increasing IT demands of their financial institution customers.

Critical Issue:  
As a financial services provider, the business is required to maintain strict data protection standards for the backup and recovery of user information. Unfortunately, the business was faced with severe data management growing pains as a result of corporate-driven expansion. And because of the critical, confidential nature of the data, the business needed to do something fast to accommodate growth trends and regulatory compliance.

Reasons:
Increased IT demands negatively impacted current processes by straining already overloaded resources, plus compromising data security and the ability to fully meet regulatory compliance. Specifically, the company needed to streamline remote server backup activities and simplify the data recovery process in order to alleviate the pressure placed on IT and satisfy industry regulations. Spiraling out-of-control IT costs were also an issue.

Capabilities Provided:
Consonus employed a cloud-based solution that encompassed a more centralized structure; a fully automated approach to accommodate growth, meet industry compliance standards, and ease the burden on IT.  Consonus Remote Backup Service™ (RBS™) was the ideal solution to address all of the company’s requirements.

Results:
Consonus RBS is an alternative to traditional backup methods, replacing conventional solutions with a fully-automated cloud option. As a result, the company experienced immediate benefits that included:

  • 77%  cost reduction in backup and recovery contracts
  • A projected savings of $450K on IT expenses over the next three years
  • Scalability and flexibility that adapts to the fluctuating needs of the business
  • Secure information that is protected to the highest industry standards at a Consonus SAS70 Type II audited data center
  • Improved performance and optimized efficiency
  • Decreased strain on internal IT department and existing IT assets
  • Full control over all data

This cloud implementation has proven to be so reliable and cost-effective that the company became one of the first channel partners to join with Consonus in providing RBS to their own financial customers. Now the company’s IT department can focus on core strengths and revenue-generating activities as the business continues to thrive and meet future data management demands.

Build Your Go Bag – What to Pack for an IT Emergency

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A recent article I read asked, “What’s in your Go Bag?” The article defines a “Go Bag” as the bag you take with you when you’re on the go, either during your daily life or when you’re traveling. If you’re in IT support, your bag probably has thumb drives, head sets, duct tape, etc. Those will get you by in a pinch, but what about a disaster? Here are a few suggestions to include in your IT Go Bag.

Disaster Recovery Plan
The first thing any Go Bag should have is a copy of your disaster recovery plan. Random acts of system administration will not likely bring your business back online. Your plan should include things like: the services you are responsible for, how to get those services back online, and the timeframe for recovery of each service.

Contact Info
If you’re in recovery mode, you’re going to need help. Make sure you can find people quickly by collecting and regularly reviewing contact information. We recommend having your vendor’s support phone numbers readily available. You should also consider having contact info for recovery service providers who can retrieve data from damaged or defective media.

Licenses
The problem with licenses is that they like to live in drawers, folders or emails and rarely see the light of day. Take the time to collect and organize your licenses before you need them. Create a central location for storing them. Also, consider keeping your licenses in an electronic format—very convenient and easily portable.  

Contract Info
Your service levels should be set according to your recovery needs so you’ll know exactly what to expect from your vendor partners when they respond to your calls. Having this information around will allow you to quickly set expectations and take action if those expectations are not being met.

Of course there are additional items you can include. But packing a Go Bag with these essentials will get you up and running as fast as possible in the event of a data disaster.

Trey Askew
Customer Care Manager