Everything As A Service

Everything-as-a-serviceIt seems like every article you read about technology today includes a service delivered in an ‘-As-A-Service’ approach. We have an abundance of Software-As-A-Service (SaaS), Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS), Communications-As-A-Service (CaaS), Infrastructure-As-A-Service (IaaS) and many other X-aaS systems/platforms. In fact, XaaS is being used to denote the ‘Everything-As-A-Service’ mentality.

The ‘Everything-As-A-Service’ approach is one that makes a great deal of sense. If an organization can decide they need a new platform or a new application they don’t have to undergo a long, drawn-out technology selection project and subsequent implementation project to get the right technology within their data center.

Using XaaS, a company can identify the technology, platform or application they need or want and then simply sign a contract or sign up for service. There’s no need to look at data center sizing, efficiency, utilization rates or power requirements to ensure a new platform can be implemented. There’s no need to spend months trying to integrate a new platform or application with your existing infrastructure (although integrating XaaS can be just as difficult as non-XaaS is).

Regardless of where you might stand on the XaaS model, there’s no denying that the approach provides organizations with the ability to deliver services and systems quickly and efficiently without a large capital outlay to purchase, install and integrate new systems and hardware.

Additionally, the XaaS model allows organizations to build agility into everything they do. From start to finish, everything the IT group does can be agile focused and every project undertaken within the IT group and within the data center can have agility baked into the core of the project.

Another valuable reason to adopt the XaaS approach is that it lets IT group build itself into an “as-a-service” offering. IT as a service is the next generation of IT service to organizations. IT as a service is the model for delivering the right services to the right people at the right time in the right way.

IT as a service is agility personified. With the ‘as-a-service’ approach, the IT group can quickly deliver any application, system, service or platform to the organization in a way that should allow lower costs, better management and more efficient operations when compared to the legacy approach that was focused on data center centric systems and platforms.

I’ve written a bit about the agile data center over the last few months. To build the agile data center, the IT group needs to become agile themselves. To become more agile, the IT group can adopt the XaaS mentality and models to build and manage agility throughout the organization and within the data center.

Is your organization seriously considering the XaaS approach to systems and platforms?

This post is brought to you by Symantec and The Transition To The Agile Data Center.

Recovering from Bad Customer Service

I love good customer service.

Receiving excellent service from a company / person makes me feel good…it makes me happy and makes me excited to revisit that company or person for future business.

The opposite is also true…I hate bad customer service.  I hate it with a passion.

I understand that great people and companies provide poor service occasionally. Every company has issues with their customer service.  Sometimes you catch someone on a bad day…sometimes you fall into a process ‘crack’ and your issue is missed.

The difference between a great company with great service and an average/poor company…is actually in the fact that the company / person realizes that they made a mistake and then how they respond to that mistake.  The difference is how a company recovers from bad service.

Recently I ran into a company that I’d classify in the ‘worst service’ department – at least initially. I’m not going to name any names here but I want to share the experience.

I ordered a device from this company to use for streaming shows and movies at home. Rather than order through a retailer like I normally would, i decided to buy directly from the company…big mistake on my part.

After a reasonable time, I received the unit. I unpacked it and plugged it in.  And nothing happened.  I unplugged everything and reattached it…again nothing.

I took the unit to another TV and tried it there.  Nothing.

After multiple attempts and much research online, I came to the conclusion that this unit was dead-on-arrival.  So…I went to the company’s website to find their support information to ask for help.

I submitted a support ticket…and was told afterwards that they’d be in touch within 48 hours.  48 hours is an awful long time to wait for a response…but I figured I’d give them a chance. 3 days later I still had no response.

So…I tried to call them.  Nothing…I couldn’t get to a live person.  So..I tried their live chat.  Nothing….it wouldn’t connect me at all.  So…I emailed them again.  Nothing.

Finally…I tried the last ditch effort…I went to Twitter.

Funny…after I ‘tweeted’ them that I couldn’t get any response, I received a response from their social media team.  It was quick, courteous and provided me with contact info.  Funnily enough…I also received a response from their Customer Service team within a few hours.

That response via email was short and worthless…it basically said ‘thank you for contacting us…please try to plug the unit in somewhere else’.  Worthless.

After a week of back and forth via email and attempted phone calls, I was still waiting for a resolution.  I’ve been told to call their 800 number to get an RMA for the power supply so I can get a new one…but I’ve yet to be able to get in touch with anyone at their 800 number.  Worthless.

So now I sit here waiting again. I’ve had this unit for a week with no luck. I’ve reached out to their service department multiple times with no luck.  Their social media team seems to be willing to help but I’ve yet to see any results from their intervention.

All i want is a working unit or a refund…but these folks don’t seem to understand how to respond in a manner that provides any level of confidence that they have a clue what Customer Service actually means.

This morning, I received a phone call from an engineer at the company who started the call with a profuse apology and asked for my address so he could overnight a new product to me.  He didn’t ask me for any particular details about the box that doesn’t work…he didn’t ask me to send it back or do anything else with it…he just apologized and said that I’d be receiving a new box soon.

With this one act, this engineer made a very bad situation much better. Has he redeemed the company in my eyes? No. Has he made up for their lack of service? No.  But…he has started down the right road.

This company is on the road to recovering from a really really bad situation…let’s hope they follow through on their promises and I have a new unit in my hands before the end of the week.

Still, the question has to be asked…can you truly recover from bad customer service? Although this engineer is working towards a recovery, will I ever trust this company again enough to order from them and/or recommend their products?  I’m not sure…we’ll see how the next few days go.

Customer Service sucks…or….the one where Eric lost his temper….

scream and shout By mdanys on flickrI lost my temper yesterday and a poor, helpless support representative got to hear some words that would make most folks blush.

See…when someone in a support position tells me they can’t help me, i get angry. In this particular case, what tipped me over the edge and caused a couple of expletives to roll out of my mouth was the response from the company’s support rep.

They said:

I’m sorry but that isn’t a problem I can help you with.  You’ll need to go to our website and file a ticket to get help.

Listen up  support and call center managers –  if I’m on the phone with you, I’ve done everything i could do prior to placing that phone call. I’ve read all your support material, been through your support / discussion forum and done as much research as possible.   I’ve read about the other people having the same problem…and I’ve seen your lack of response to their online requests for help.

You see…if i thought your online support system actually worked and was a viable approach, I would have tried to submit a ticket there…but with the other people having the same trouble, I figured a phone call is in order.

Now…granted…many people don’t take the time to do the research before calling support, but I do.

Regardless, if someone is on the phone with you / your support team, the last thing you should do is to tell them you can’t help them and they will need to go file a support request on your website.


Because it tells that person that they aren’t important and their problem isn’t important.

Of course, your support model might be built on a paid support model and/or tiered levels of support.  Perhaps a user calls in to get support and they aren’t entitled to it – feel free to explain your support model to them and offer them an upgrade to be able to get support.

But…if that user has a valid support agreement, help them out. Please?

Rather than telling me to go to the website and file a ticket, the customer support rep could have easily opened a ticket and explained why he couldn’t help me on the phone and explained what the process would look like moving forward. That would have been helpful. I wouldn’t have gotten so angry with that approach…but instead, I was told to basically ‘go away’.

Will i continue to use this company’s product/service? Yes…but it will take a while before I pay them any more money…if i give them any more money at all. This one interaction with their support team has pushed me from being an evangelist for them to being someone that just might point people away from this company.

PS – I told a friend about this experience and she said “sounds like every phone call that I make to my IT helpdesk”.  There’s something telling in that…but that’s a post for another time 🙂

Image Credit: scream and shout By mdanys on flickr

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