Microsoft Technical Support

by john on February 21, 2003

I used to run a Technical Support organization for a mid-sized software company. Working in Support can at times be a thankless job. You make all of the margin but someone else spends it. The developers look down at you. Hell, even QA treats you as second class citizens. Thank God for IT. But working in Support can be a great career and for many it isn’t just a stepping stone. With an organization that fosters communication, teamwork and respect between different technical groups, the true value of Technical Support can emerge.

But that’s not what I want to write about tonight. I want to write about a recent experience we had with Microsoft Technical Support, an experience that opened my eyes to how much they have improved since I last interacted with them, probably three years ago. My experience then could probably be encapsulated by searching Google on microsoft technical support sucks. The people seemed incompetent, they were more interested in closing the call than resolving the problem, and getting someone to call back was nearly impossible.

It’s a testament to Microsoft’s focus on improving their Support website that my team rarely has a need to actually talk to anyone at Microsoft, but last week we needed to. The support we received during that time and the follow-up since then has been absolutely fantastic. The closing email, which I will be detailing below, is in my opinion a road-map for how it should be done.


Frankly I don’t know for sure that this is Microsoft standard and not just some rogue super-star Support rep, but I suspect the latter.

Dear xxx, yyy, zzz,
It was my pleasure to serve you during your Microsoft SQL Server issue. I hope that you were delighted with the service provided to you. My goal is for all my customers to be very satisfied with my handling of their support call. I am providing you with a summary of the key points of the case for your records.

Providing a detailed summary is an excellent way to ensure their was no miscommunication between the support rep and the customer.

ACTION:
You are running into an Access Violation.
RESULT:
This matches the following footprints:
* Short Stack Dump
* 00846112 Module(sqlservr+00446112) (rcSetFastKey+00000098)
* 005265CB Module(sqlservr+001265CB) (lmlink+0000016E)
* 00526338 Module(sqlservr+00126338) (sort_addpage+00000043)
.
.
CAUSE:
This is a known issue with SQL Server, as documented in “314003: FIX:
Query That Uses DESC Index May Result in Access Violation”

Now you might be tempted to think this level of detail is useless. Obviously we already knew all of this. But you would be wrong – this is very important. Maybe not so much in our case where we had only one case active with them, but you’ll appreciate this level of detail when you have multiple cases open with Support.

RESOLUTION:
Provided necessary Hotfix
You tested it on your Test Server
You applied it on the Production cluster server and everything is
working fine.
As this is a known issue, we are not charging you for this issue. This
case is being marked ‘non-decrement’.

I’m sure the Microsoft cynics out there are thinking that he is providing this info as a CYA, but for me it says he really understood the problem we were having and it’s impact to our environment. He paid attention – I like that.

USEFUL LINKS
Information on Slammer Virus and post SP2 security hotfix for SQL Server 2000
http://www.microsoft.com/security/slammer.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-061.asp
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/ SQL Server’s Home Page
.
.

This is like the inverse of the Sales mantra “Always be closing.” It’s “Always be Supporting.” Proactively providing this information will result in fewer calls into Support thereby increasing margins, thereby making everyone happy. Including their customers.

Based on our last conversation it appears that this case is ready to be closed. If this is premature or you are not Very Satisfied with all aspects of this case, please let me know as soon as possible. Please remember that just because I closed your case it does not mean you cannot call me back if a problem relating to this case reoccurs in the near future. You can always call me directly, and I will assist you with your case.

A good closing, right? Well, that’s about the only part I didn’t like! I like the personal touch, and perhaps they have internal processes designed to prevent calls falling into the ether, but when you’ve got an ACD you should use it. Inviting direct calls will eventually result in a poorer overall support experience. If you’ve worked in support you’ll know what I mean – once a customer has your direct line they will latch on to you like a leech and the best reps will quickly become consumed.

I hope our recent experience with Microsoft Technical Support is the standard they now follow and is the level of support we can expect in the future. Assuming it is, well done Microsoft!

{ 2 comments }

Frances Durler December 3, 2003 at 7:05 am

I have a compaq presario 6000, which does not allow me to select my boot preferenc in cmos, and I think a message I got when this first started,gave me a choice of boots and I chose scsi, whith gave me a choice of recovery or qui. I choose q and it boots. I think this inane quirk of not allowing me to boot is causing this.

for some reason, I restart, or turn my computer off and I get an error, in the boot sector that
states presss any key to continue, and the system loops with the two line message. I put the recovery disk # 1 in the cd-rom, and after a series of ctl-alt-del, and pressing the restart
button, I get a hewlet packard message, press R for recovery to format, or q to quit.

is there some way to change to boot sequence?

Frances Durler December 3, 2003 at 7:05 am

I have a compaq presario 6000, which does not allow me to select my boot preferenc in cmos, and I think a message I got when this first started,gave me a choice of boots and I chose scsi, whith gave me a choice of recovery or qui. I choose q and it boots. I think this inane quirk of not allowing me to boot is causing this.

for some reason, I restart, or turn my computer off and I get an error, in the boot sector that
states presss any key to continue, and the system loops with the two line message. I put the recovery disk # 1 in the cd-rom, and after a series of ctl-alt-del, and pressing the restart
button, I get a hewlet packard message, press R for recovery to format, or q to quit.

is there some way to change to boot sequence?

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