A-B tech support, was SOFT Feedback on Tealware


Thread Starter

Dan Hazel

Here's the true inside scoop on this...

------- Forwarded message follows -------

> From: [email protected]

> It is sort of sad the route their tech support has taken. It used to be
> that AB had top notch tech support. You could call there with a problem and
> in a few hours it was typically resolved.

That was when we had real live attendants to screen the calls. "Ms. 'N'" would take the call, and find out who the caller was, and what specific product he had questions about. Ms. N would scan a list of who was busy, and who was available. She might say "Dan's avaiilable, and he knows that product", or she might say
"Nobody who supports that product is available", and enter the contact information into her database.

> Now it seems that if you call you get phone answerers working
> off cue cards. Once you have exhausted the stock answers
> which may take a while, you get to the real tech support people
> who actually know.

They're not "cue cards", they're "troubleshooting templates" Rockwell Automation places a high priority on providing "world class" support. To this end, they've invested a tad in some killer
consultants in that field. One of the recommendations these consultants have made is that the customer should be able to connect directly with an engineer, rather than go through a receptionist. This is accomplished by means of the "automated call distribution system". The system knows I know 1771 I/O, but it doesn't have a clue that I've never worked with a 1771-QB. This is no problem - I know the system, and maybe I can help, anyway.

It could be he's just having problems completing block transfers to the module.

Before I can help, however, I need to find the customer in our database. If he hasn't called before, I create a new record. Missing the live attendants who used to do this.

Well, the block transfers are OK - so where do I look next ? The troubleshooting templates, of course ?

Oops - this is a low volume module - there is no template for it !

Still no problem - we have an extensive knowlege base - a collection of known problems, and their solutions. If the caller can be specific enough about the nature of his problem, I can do a
search, and read the solution.

No luck there - we haven't run across this before, or the guy who specializes in that product hasn't had time to document this

OK - maybe I can find someone who knows this module. Ted knows this - I'll ring him.

Rats ! He's busy telling someone to connect blue to pin one, shield to pin two. etc.

At this point, I can dispatch the call to the backline que, or accept it and find the info and get back to the customer later.

> I suspect AB has taken this approach to cut costs.

Nope. Honestly an attempt to provide better service.

> They may have had to take this approach to reduce the
> number of "real" problem calls that get through to the "real" tech support
> people. Not to denigrate the phone answerers, but its sort of annoying to
> have to get past these guys to get to someone who can actually help. I don't
> generally call for my health, its cause I have a real problem. They may have
> just gotten so many people with limited PLC and/or AB expereince calling tech
> support that they had to filter the calls.

The 'real' tech support people are still here. Problem is, when it's easier to call tech support than it is to read the manual, my QB expert is busy reading dip switch settings...

> I can remember not all that long ago having product design managers
> calling me back helping me with strange problems discovered in newer cards.

Still happens.

> In our area though, our distributor has their own tech support for AB stuff.
> Englewood Electric has what they call tech-411. The people there are as
> sharp as the old AB tech support people used to be, and generally have quick
> answers to problems. They even have a toll free number that I will reveal for
> a small fee. :)

Tech-411 calls us. :)

> It used to be you could even call the local AB offices and get some local
> support as well. The local office in Rockford had a guy there who was quite
> good, but he has since been retired off and now it is just salesman there.

Yep. Consolidation. Let go of 20 hi-tech inside sales people, and replace them with 10 folks at the central support area. Really does make good economic sense, but does remove that personal
knowlege of the customer's circumstances. Fortunately, most of those folks went to work for local distributors. Also, it seems like
the local offices are creating new positions - essentially replacements for the hi-tech inside sales folks, but with a different title.

> For reasons that don't make much sense to me, it seems like you do better to
> file your problems by email with AB tech support. You seem to get better and
> faster answers that way. maybe its just my imagination, or good luck but I
> have filed my last couple questions that way and got very prompt answers.

No mystery there - I get to pick and choose emails - I won't take it unless it is a product I know. Somebody else can take the 1771-QB call.

AB really does want to provide excellent support - they are open to suggestion.

The opinions expressed here are mine, not my employer's.

Dan Hazel

Rockwell Automation Product Support Services.
Glad to hear AB support is so good in the US, shame it does not filter out. With regard to the "inside scoop" my being employed by them for nearly 5 years gives me some "inside" knowledge also. Like the informative response "That is the first time we have had heard of that problem" and
then low and behold nearly a year later AB "announce" just finding a problem and here is the immediate fix.

The opinions expressed here are mine, and those of the people I try and support.

Allan Dow
Embedded Systems and Solutions