Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Support Follies

Actually, the company in question uses the phrase "customer success team" rather than "support" to characterize how it's going to help you. Nice marketing spin -- we're partnered with you, your success is our success, this land is your land, this land is my... Anyway.

Unfortunately, when it comes to actually delivering -- here's the story:

I'm in the process of advising a client on whether or not to commit to this company's platform, outsourcing an essential component of their website. I'd really like to be able to say "yes", because otherwise I have to essentially recreate that platform (non-trivial) as well as deal with SOAP (blech) stuff and a horrific third-party API.

So in preparation for a conference call to discuss the integration issues, I prepare a couple of flow charts, write up some descriptive background material, not too much, just something to frame the conversation so we jump right to the heart of the matter.

Conference call (GoToMeeting) information arrives after the meeting is supposed to start. I call the dial-in number, to find no one there. It also takes a few minutes to discover that GoToNowhere apparently doesn't work on Safari and retry it, this time successfully, in Firefox.

Cell phone rings -- it's the "customer success" person. Apparently he's the only one that'll be involved; not much of a "conference" call. But OK. Let's talk.

He starts reading the email sent by the company's account manager. Uh, no -- that's what I've already replied to (the day before) correcting the simplistic description of the issues. Has he read that reply? Well, no. So obviously he hasn't seen the flow charts, either. Great. So let's use some phone time while he looks at those, and I try to explain further.

Gosh, yeppers, it is more complex than originally stated. But he's out of time, has a hard stop though we've started late, and will have to think about it, consult with his peers, and get back to me.

As I said, I'd really, really, like to tell the client to go with it -- but at this point, I'm seriously concerned by the level of "success" I'm having getting to the point of even starting to integrate the two systems.

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