How do the words “call the vendor for support?” make you feel? If you are like most people those words create some level of angst because on one hand you are probably dealing with an issue, and on the other hand you do not know if the “support” is going to frustrate you by running you in circles. If you are like me, you subconsciously have to mentally prepare yourself before you even pick up the phone. The sad truth is this holds true in both our personal and business lives.
Before I get too far down the road I must say that a large majority of the vendors we deal with are excellent. They are responsive, get you to the right department or person the first time, and help troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly. Ok, now that the disclaimer is done let’s get back to discussing vendor support.
As you may or may not know Outer Edge Technology, LLC is Managed Service Provider (MSP) for cloud based infrastructures and hosting (Private, Azure, AWS, On-Premise). As you can imagine, we have many vendor relationships and an equal amount of support / maintenance agreements. This is obviously an absolute requirement for a hosting company and in should be for any IT department.
You can think of support / maintenance agreements as a type of insurance. Meaning, you have to have it but hope you seldom have to use it. Unfortunately, in the world of technology, having to use vendor support is inevitable despite having senior level engineers that are experienced and certified in the same technologies. Why, because the vendor is typically the manufacture of the end product.
Recently, we had an issue where we needed support from one of our vendors. We deemed the issue as critical even though there was no impact to any of our customers, it still had the potential to degrade services or worse. So, one of senior engineers started the vendor support process. After multiple voice prompts the engineer was finally connected with a department (human). Again having to re-answer many of the same questions he already answered. When they finally started to discuss the issue the vendor quickly stated that another department handled this and our engineer was transferred. Again having to re-answer many of the same questions and again had to be transferred to yet another department. This went on several times and he actually ended up back at the original department he spoke to. Unbelievable, it was like living in the movie Groundhog Day, except not funny because we were trying to address an issue. After much time (money) and frustration we eventually did get the support we needed and the issue was resolved.
I am sure we all have a similar war story (or two) and the battle scars to prove it, maybe not physical scars, but you certainly feel like you banged your head against the wall so that counts. In spite of that, I believe there is always a lesson to be learned when we go through a situation like this. In our case, we are also a vendor to our customers and this story completely reinforces why as a Managed Service Provider, Outer Edge places so much emphasis on customer support / maintenance. Yes we have a fancy and easy to use ticketing system but our engineers often call the customer proactively after a ticket is opened. It helps us understand the issue, strengthens the relationship, and ultimately makes our customers happy not to mention saves money by reducing the time to issue resolution. We truly believe and act as an extension of our customers IT team. You see, sometimes a bad thing can make you re-appreciate the good.