My favorite customers

Posted by on in Blogs

I have a few customers who I deal with on a routine basis who I think really have it together in understanding how to get support. I thought I would highlight what I think they are doing right with the idea that other customers could could learn how to get good support.

In support you learn to protect yourself from who can call you. There are lots of ways for customers to get support, but generally calling me on my personal line usually isn't it. However, for all of the customers I'm thinking about here, at one time or another I've given them all my personal number and indicated when it might used. They have never broken this trust. The lesson to be learned here is never ask a support engineer engineer for a direct number, as some engineers do not this, and it is within their right. However, if you are offered one, I think you've made valued connection with the engineer you are talking to.

I have a personal relationship with each of these customers. I probably would not have given them my phone number if I didn't. I have at least an idea of what the application of each of these customers does. These things do not happen over night, but I feel that if you want the best support, you need this.

To all the customers of the customers I'm thinking about here, InterBase is like a toaster. You plug it and it works. Just as I have no idea what are the elements to my toaster, the customers of my customers have no idea that InterBase is even on their computer. If something did go wrong with InterBase on their systems, their customers wouldn't dream of calling Borland because 1)they don't know they have a Borland product and 2)even if they did, they would know the developer who made their product would be far better able to assist them than Borland could.

These customers have reasonable expectations. First, they understand that just as they could not fix a problem in their product without being able to reproduce it, we cannot fix a problem in ours without being to reproduce it. When these customer contact me they often do not not have steps to reproduce their problem (but they do have a clue), but they understand how important this is, and work with me to achive this goal. Second, they understand schedules. They realize how it takes time to do software properly and how doing a patch can impact future products.

These customers all have good testing environments. They are all able to work with a problem and its solution in a non production environment before deploying it.

I'm reminded of a Borcon talk I once heard from Danny Thorpe. It was about debugging, which is much of what Developer Support is about. One of Danny's key points is you cannot do anything if you cannot reproduce a problem. While none of these customers were at that talk, it feels like they were.

In summary, all these customers are all being successful. I believe a part of this success is because they are getting quality support.


  • Guest
    JWR Thursday, 12 August 2004

    All very valid points and just the message to portray to any support team.

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