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The First Question A Support Engineer Should Ask You

The best support comes from starting the conversation with the right question.

A comic depicting the common frustration of being on the phone with tech support

Support calls shouldn't feel this way.

What's the first question you expect to be asked when you call a vendor support line?

"May I have your contract number, please?"
"What's your MAC address?"
"Which firmware version are you running?"

...Basically, you settle in and prepare for interrogation designed to determine whether you really deserve the support you're requesting.

How long does it take to get to the real question:

"How can I help you?"

A Support Call Should Actually Be Supportive

The status quo in most support organizations is to carefully evaluate each caller's eligibility for support before actually helping. Fortunately, we're not the "status quo" type. We'd rather help first, and ask questions later.

During an ExtraHop training session at a healthcare organization earlier this week, our senior trainer, Cal, was explaining our support model to the class.

Cal: "If you have a question, call us."
Student: "You don't ask for a contract number?"
Cal: "Nope."
Student #2: "Do we need to be on an approved list?"
Cal: "Nope."

He sensed the students didn't really believe him, so he pulled out his phone, dialed, and handed the phone to Student #1. "Here, watch. When Support answers, just introduce yourself and say you have a question."

Student: "Uh, okay."
Jordan in Support: "ExtraHop Support, this is Jordan"
Student: "Hi, this is Jacob at [XYZ] Health. I have a question about my ExtraHop."
Jordan in Support: "Okay, what can I help you with?"

(That's the end of the story.)

Support Means Faster MTTB (Mean Time to Bedtime)

A different customer recently had an issue during a firmware upgrade which was scheduled to happen during a change window at midnight.

The customer reached out to ExtraHop support at 12:00am EST.

By 12:15am there was a WebEx Session underway and an Incident Specific HipChat channel with at least seven ExtraHoppers on the line from Support and Glue Teams—most of whom were logging in from home, from a restaurant, or from the office because they were working late.

They helped the customer resolve the issue, and the customer was in bed by 1:30am.

(And that's the end of THAT story.)

This is How We Roll

Why tell these stories? It's because of the dismal stories our customers have told us from their past attempts at getting support from their vendors. While they're busy jumping through gated support hoops and proving who they are, something in their environment needs attention, the clock is ticking, their frustration is mounting—and they're still stuck.

We can't change how other vendors support (or don't support) their customers, but we don't have to follow suit. It helps to remember that no matter which company someone is calling from, the person on the other end of the phone is an individual who wants what we all want: to have easy access to the resources they need to do great work. These are people whose respect we'll work to win, and to keep.

Want proof? Give us a call.*

* Disclaimer: This only applies to people needing support with their ExtraHop. If you rage-smashed your fax machine, Office Space-style, we can't help you with that.

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