Part 4 – Beyond internal support teams – reaching end customers

Pramod Sridharamurthy
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In the last 3 blogs on the topic of “Troubleshooting troubles”, we looked at how troubleshooting steps can be generalized and how a holistic approach can be arrived at building tools/systems/processes that can significantly enhance the productivity of a support group.

While optimizing internal support operations is important for a product manufacturer, what would be even better is the reduction in the number of support calls! End users lack tools and knowledge to troubleshoot problems and hence more often than not, they open a support ticket with the product manufacturer. What if the solutions we discussed in the previous blogs are made available even to the end user (even if partially), through a self-support portal? Wouldn’t that enable end users to self-support themselves for most common issues? The end user self-support portal can comprise of

  • Health check portal – A portal that provides key indicators of the systems health and configuration
  • Capacity/performance portal – This would help the customer understand performance and capacity trends in their data center, which can help in planning better.
  • A search interface – To search across all the logs generated from the system installed at the customer’s data centers, including logs from other devices. This could also include data from case management system and Knowledge base.
  • A rules engine – Which would help the customer set thresholds/KPIs related to their environment
  • Cross stack canvas – A canvas that allows the end user to analyse events across the stack.
  • A personalization option to customize the dashboards/reports exposed to the customers to their needs

This again is not a comprehensive list. Product manufacturers can add additional resources onto this portal or integrate the above list into their already existing portal.

In conclusion, the higher level troubleshooting approach is very similar across all support groups, including customers even if the specifics are completely different. Building a software that caters to the specifics will not only constrain its implementation across support groups but will also be inflexible to solve even a single support group’s requirement. What support needs is a framework and tools that allow them to quickly customize the application to their needs. It is the balance between out of the box features while still keeping it completely and easily customizable.

At glassbeam, support automation is one of the key focus areas. We are continuously working with support groups to understand their pain points and build frameworks and tools that help support organizations do a lot more with a lot less.