Tuesday 29 November 2011

HW support in a time critical environment

Not long ago hw support on your critical servers meant that when you called the engineer out he arrived with a boot full of parts. This meant that when whatever part you thought faulty was changed.  And if it didn’t fix the problem he would try a number of other possibilities.  This equalled  the engineer was fast on site and then able to do the diagnostics and rectification in a single fast swoop.  How things have changed, and not for the better. 

The callout takes a lot longer to accomplish now.  First you might have to talk to the, outsourced to a third world callcentre.  If your company is English speaking and the support centre’s native language is not you’ll get by if at least one of the parties do have that as a primary language.  Problems start building when none of the 2 parties has the common language as their primary.
Next you will have to do a lot of diagnostics to pinpoint exactly the faulty part, because that is the only thing that will be sent to you.  And yes I did say sent because these days the part comes directly from an outsourced supplier and not with the engineer.   Meaning the engineer will want to ensure that the part is onsite before he/she.  Just so he/she won’t waste any time, as if that was better than to waste yours.  Expect to waste at 1-2 hours from part arrives to engineer arrives. 
If that part was not the only failed item, the process starts over, but this time hopefully helped by the engineer now onsite.  Unless he/she decides that the next part is unlikely to come inside his/her  duty hours and sneaks out the back door.
And remember in all this, the contracted max onsite response time often only starts ticking from when the problem has been diagnosed by phone and the part/engineer is being dispatched.  This often result in that a 4 hour onsite promise is a multi hr diagnostics per telephone and for diagnostics instructions and files to fly bback and forth, and then up to 4hours for the part/engineer to come to site.  

There is also a tendency for hw suppliers to see all means of transportation as having to function for their distribution.  So for rare or just very new types of systems this might mean the missing part has to be flown to the destination.  Don’t expect that to happen if another cloud of ash darkens the sky..  Or what if your hw is broken due to activity that has stopped air traffic, like 9/11.  

Is it not incredible that many hw suppliers has a problem identifying your specific setup every tiem you call them.  Even if that server is the only one you have from that specific manufacturer, you can be sure that every time you call them you have to give them serial numbers and partnumbers,  instead of they just looking up your company name and say “yes we can see it here on our system”.
Vendors need on their internal systems to come up with a  way of giving systems the customers  name for it.  This need to be part of after sales, a much neglected area.  For many hw vendors there is no such thing as “after sales”.  This is completely handled by support, and they are reactive, meaning they only kick in when a problem occurs and the customer contacts them.  Somewhere in between there needs to be something extra.  And outsourcing it to an agent do not work.  They only get paid for sales, and won’t be directly affected if support has issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment