By Nick Harris
Almost all organisations need help with the software they use every day and that is essential to their core business activities. They may have problems installing the software, activating it or using it and, when they can’t solve the problem themselves, they look to contact someone to help. At this point they are faced with some choices which are normally; scour the internet in the hope that someone has experienced the same problem, found an answer and helpfully posted the solution on the internet or they contact the software vendor or they contact the partner that supplied the software and the training. The internet can be incredibly useful whilst at the same time incredibly frustrating and when looking for help it depends on you asking the right question, choosing the right response and interpreting the answer. Relying on Google to deliver business critical support is not a viable option for a productive organisation and so the sensible option should be to have a cover with a professional support provider.
There are choices here too though, normally between the software vendor or one of their partners. Increasingly the software vendor or manufacturer includes some level of support with their product maintenance of subscription plans. This support is normally intended to be general and basic and is delivered by teams that are often not in the same country or region rather than locally. In the case of Autodesk, for most of their products, you are entitled to email questions about problems you are experiencing with the software, as long you have an active subscription or maintenance plan. For questions about using the software, your expected to undergo some formal training and use the self-service knowledgebase.
As an industry we have seen a trend towards the localisation and personalisation of technical support. Our aim is to provide a specific and in-depth service rather than a general one. Autodesk products are becoming increasingly complex and are used differently by UK industries to ones elsewhere in the world. We have our own standards, terminology and organisational structures in the UK and our customers expect that we have an understanding of the way they work when they call us to talk about using the software to do their job.
Users of support do want a more personal experience, when they next call in many would like to speak the same person that gave them a great support experience last time. At the very least they would like to think that the person helping them has access to their history with the technology; and not just previous support cases but knowledge of the route they took when choosing and implementing it too. The one thing we all hate when calling for support is providing the same background story again and again.
Vendor support and partner support fulfil two different but complimentary roles. Vendor support is ideal for environments where complexity and volume are low and there is a tolerance for service outages that can be in the magnitude of days. Partner support delivers a highly reactive, personalised service which is much more aligned to the way that a customer has decided to implement the technology. A partner has the ability to be more agile when problems do not fit a standard pattern, especially when that project deliverable has to be got out of the door.