Q&A: Brad Maybee, VP Technical Support
BlackBerry Connection™ recently sat down with Brad Maybee, VP of Technical Support at Research In Motion, to discuss the real value of what his people do and talk about what BlackBerry® customers appreciate most about Technical Support Services.
BlackBerry Connection: Hi Brad, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Many of our readers may be asking, why would I choose to purchase a Technical Support Services subscription?
Brad Maybee: While you may receive some form of basic technical support from your carrier, purchasing Technical Support Services from us makes a lot of sense. That’s because it solves a simple dilemma—how to receive end-to-end support for your BlackBerry Enterprise Solution™ even if it has been bought in pieces from different suppliers. You see, regardless of where the components were purchased, each of them was developed by RIM so we can deal with any issues that may arise. We can even help resolve carrier and connectivity issues by identifying the appropriate resources required for resolution. We are a single point of contact that helps customers prevent and solve any technical issues that they may encounter.
BC: How would you describe the real value of Technical Support Services?
BM: Our customers realize that we are key to their success and to realizing the full potential of their BlackBerry investment. We are the ones they turn to to keep their BlackBerry users up and running and to keep their business moving. For most organizations, their BlackBerry solution is the tool that helps drive sales, provides timely information used to make important business decisions and keeps the flow of work moving regardless of the location of employees. To them, time is money, so they cannot afford to have a technical issue with their BlackBerry solution. That’s where we come in, because reducing the incidence and impact of downtime is what we do.
BC: Can you explain the types of services that the technical support group at RIM offers?
BM: When you purchase BlackBerry Enterprise Server™ you get 60 days of free support. After that period, we offer five levels of support — which we call Tx1 through Tx5. Technical Support Services is a scalable and flexible program that allows our customers to access the degree of support they require to make the most efficient and productive use of their BlackBerry Enterprise Solution™.
BC: How is your group structured to help solve customer problems quickly?
BM: Last year, the technical support organization was restructured to make all groups global. We wanted customers to enjoy the same experience regardless of whom they were talking to. There are now four support centers around the globe — in Waterloo (RIM headquarters), Halifax (Canada), Egham (UK) and Singapore.
BC: How does this new structure work?
BM: The Initial Response Team takes all requests from Tx1 through Tx3 level support. If they can’t solve the problem, they move it up to the Escalations Team, a global group located in all four support centers.
On an individual support representative level, we have a QA (quality assurance) program that assesses how our reps are doing. We review these results on a monthly basis on both a customer service and a technical level.
To make sure we are doing our work well as a group — and to guarantee we are always improving — we are building a Service Assurance team that will monitor our service support team, identifying where we are doing well and where we can improve. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate any problems that may exist. Service Assurance is like QA for the organization.
BC: How would you deal with an issue that might take many hours to resolve?
BM: We are capable of working on problems non-stop, particularly if they involve Tx2 support and above [Tx2–Tx5 include 24/7 support]. If you are ready to go 24 hours a day, so are we. We won’t let a customer go until a problem is fixed.
“We are not a call center; we are a professional technical support center… In our view, the call should be as long as it takes to solve the problem.”
BC: What do customers appreciate most about Technical Support Services?
BM: What we hear most often, is that we do not rush people off the phones. We do not consider ourselves a simple call center. We think of ourselves as a professional technical support center. While we certainly monitor the usual call center statistics for trends, we do not have rules about how long each call should be. In our view, the call should be as long as it takes to solve the problem – to ensure our customers are satisfied.
BC: I hear you are encouraging customers not to call Technical Support, but instead to email their questions. Why?
BM: There has been a dramatic change in the way we handle inbound requests. We used to prioritize phone calls over email, using off-peak hours to respond to email requests. But we changed our policy to keep in line with the way customers are working. Now, we give equal priority to phone and email requests. Customers like this, because waiting on a phone line for a few minutes is quite different than waiting the same amount of time for an email response.
BC: Some of our readers may be wondering if it’s worth the extra money to upgrade from a basic support program to a more comprehensive support level. Where will customers see the value in upgrading their support subscription?
BM: Customers notice a big difference when they move from Tx1/Tx2/Tx3 level support to the Tx4/Tx5, or Premier Support. At the Tx1/Tx2/Tx3 level, each interaction stands on its own. It’s incident-based support, so you’re not necessarily going to get the same tech person each time you call. However, customers who choose Tx3 support receive priority incident handling, where they are able to interact with a group of experienced Tx3 support resources so their requests will get addressed more quickly.
When customers move from incident-based support to Premier Support (Tx4 and Tx5) they get a separate tech team, called DART (Direct Advanced Response Team), working for them, alongside a dedicated Support Account Manager (SAM). At the standard levels of support, there are 30 customers for every tech support rep, which compares to 2 customers per rep with a premier subscription. So a premier level of support is far more relationship-based.
BC: What tips can you give IT departments supporting BlackBerry users in their organization or for organizations that are planning an implementation?
BM: The BlackBerry Enterprise Server lives in a very complex environment where performance can be dramatically affected by the health of the network, the health of your mail servers, the number of mail services and the types of activities your users will use your BlackBerry solution for. You need to make sure your architecture is designed with this in mind, so you are getting maximum performance.
We see customers all the time who don’t have the right architecture for their environment. It can cause a lot of pain and inconvenience for users and the IT professionals who are trying to manage the entire system. For IT people, success is achieved by minimizing downtime, reducing costs and increasing the reliability and availability of information to users – especially if that user happens to be the CEO.
BC: But what if you aren’t able to do all this yourself?
BM: If you require assistance, the BlackBerry Professional Services group can help assess and recommend architectural improvements that will result in better performance.
BC: Thank you, Brad.
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