Thursday, November 11, 2004

Cut-backs, offshoring, and PSS

Just a quick link: Called PSS Today?

Again, I'll stand by my desire for a smaller Microsoft by any means necessary. We're way too big. But on the BrightnessScale measurin'o-nomoter, this kind of offshoring decision lands the needle dead in the middle of "dumb-ass" (kind of like canceling all of those branded Microsoft drinking cups and not having any replacements in the queue, leading to the Great Cup Crisis of '04).

One thing that's supposed to distinguish Microsoft is the level of product support we provide from live, talented people who know the products super well. This is one step closer to just relying on Google searches. And I might as well get me some of that free software if that's the level of self-sufficient support I need to resort to...


Anonymous said...

One important point to note is that Duncan incorrectly refers to PSS as 'Premier Support Services'.

Unless they've changed it in the last few months, PSS = Product Support Services.

PSS and Premier Support are different groups. Some groups refer to themselves as Premier Services, but as far as I know, they are all contractually known as Premier Support. I have never seen any of them refer to themselves as Premier Support Services.

They can use the same product support people, but the Premier Technical Account Manager has more control over which product support person is assigned to the customers issue.

I think that system was designed primarily to help customers save money. Also, from Microsoft's standpoint, there is the question of operating an efficient business model, since support tends to be reactive and the expenses may not be predictable.

If the customers can navigate the product support systems themselves, then they can influence they type of help they get. Otherwise, they pay extra for the Premier TAM to fulfill that function. Since the TAM is a Microsoft employee, he or she may be able to more quickly find the appropriate specialist to help.

I think that anyone that has sit down and worked out a business plan for such an operation would see that it is a fair-minded plan for all involved.

Anonymous said...

>canceling all of those branded Microsoft drinking cups

Um..did you even check with facilities about what really happened? Guess not..

Anonymous said...

This will be the downfall of Microsoft.

I used to work in PSS and I don't mind sharing my experiences with the greater public.

When Microsoft started up their Bangalore operation, they wanted to test the process from an outside source. Being based in a totally different continent and being a senior engineer, I had the task of writing up test scripts for logging "fake" support requests with Bangalore. The majority of these scripts were taken directly from Knowledge Base articles, to test the skill of searching VKB. During the call I provided key words for the "Engineer" in Bangalore to use when searching VKB, to find the appropriate resolution. Let's just say that if they can't even find the correct KB article after providing the EXACT error message, then why are they moving support offshore for? I eventually ended up giving a couple of the "Engineers" the article myself, by saying, "I was looking in KB and I came across this you think it might help?" answered with a "yes, it may help you. I will send it to you via email, so if you have any problems you can email me back" (even though I had already given them the article). They also seemed to hasty to use email in place of the phone.
Why doesn't Microsoft offer a lower cost support option via email, which can be run out of Bangalore, but leave phone based support in the local country of origin. Sure they will still have to cut heads but it would be better than having one "Mentor" handling all the problems coming out of Banagalore.

Split it down the middle I say, maybe even use the different severity levels to assign where the case is initiated. Sev C starts in Bangalore via email while Sev A is direct phone contact locally?

Anonymous said...

Jesus , update your blog for crying out loud

Anonymous said...

I've actually called PSS and the guy (an American, I presume) actually did a Google search on the phone with me. He gave me a link from "" that he got from Google. He did no research on whether this unverified "solution" was even relevant to my problem -- he just said that "ComputerCops" was "good". The link was completely useless; I was furious and hung up on him.

I've only called PSS about a dozen times in the past 5 or six years. Their SQL Server support has been absolutely excellent, 100% correct and instantaneous in every case. Their WindowsNT support has been about 75% awful.

Anonymous said...

Im thinking NT support would be horrible given that its Unsupported dinasour. Upgrade you may find your life a little easier when it comes to support

Anonymous said...

A TAM, in my impression is a stress reliever. A kinda stress ball so to speak. Im in sales, and Ive never seen anyone take as much abuse as a TAM for Microsoft downfalls. I wouldnt want the position. It truely a no-win place to be since they are responsible for India support, and have no control or influence over the massive(but quiet) move offshore. Ive been on many conf calls w/this person.. and it reminds me of the guy in European vacation on the 10-speed who always got hit by The Griswalds.