It is no secret that support for HP
operating systems and accompanying software is changing. New phone numbers, interactive voice response
systems (IVRS), and unfamiliar voices on the other end of the phone all present
customers with new challenges and frustrations.
OpenVMS is not immune from HP's outsourcing strategy, and much
discussion has taken place regarding the issues of the program. There is no denying that, during the initial
rollout to outsource front-line support, problems surfaced and customer
satisfaction suffered. This transition
has also proved to be challenging for OpenVMS staff who have been supporting
and investing their energies in the product for years. These are also the same people that you have
worked with many times. As the HP
advocates closest to the customer, we felt it was important to involve
ourselves with the areas that we could influence. Presented with the new direction of the
company, we needed to the identify gaps in support and to develop plans to improve
those areas. The goal of this article is
to give a behind-the-scenes view of to the actions we have taken to
consistently strengthen the support of the OpenVMS product while adhering to HP's
It became clear that
training and retraining would be the key to a successful support program. Even though the initial support team spent
hours in the classroom, we knew that a process to strengthen learned skills was
required. The call center identified
areas of OpenVMS functionality that generated the highest volume of calls, and
then targeted those areas for developing training. Key to the success of the training would be
development of the curriculum by call center engineers who had the most
experience working with customers and solving problems. This would ensure that the proper topics were
covered to assist with identifying and troubleshooting problems as well as
knowing the appropriate questions to ask.
delivered using two methods. First, call
center personnel traveled to the HP site in Bangalore to present the training
in person. Not only did this provide the
best learning experience, but it also developed relationships among staff. In addition, in-person training helped employees
to understand the environment their counterparts deal with in their daily
jobs. Bangalore staff could ask questions
easily and get answers clearly. Second,
remote training was held via conference calls and virtual classrooms. This allowed for the involvement of many
experience OpenVMS engineers as well as a focused road map of training. Remote sessions allow for standard instructor-led
training as well as ongoing seminars and brown-bag programs to ensure that new
engineers are kept current about many different OpenVMS products.
In addition to the
constant schedule of training, new engineers are assigned mentors who are seasoned
OpenVMS professionals. Engineers are
paired according to time shifts so that questions can be addressed in real time
and direction can be given as necessary.
Mentors can also help identify knowledge gaps and suggest the
appropriate training. Along with
one-on-one mentoring, chat tools are available to internal support staff that
allow for immediate access to additional resources. These chats are monitored 24 x 7 x 365 by
OpenVMS experts from around the world. Participants
include not only support engineers, but Ambassadors, Proactive services
representatives, and managers in the OpenVMS community, all of whom share the
goal of continuing the success of the OpenVMS operating system. Once an individual raises a question
regarding an OpenVMS issue, suggestions, solutions, and even offers to
participate in solving the case are generously received. This type of collaboration can help new
engineers grow and develop the same levels of expertise as engineers who have many
years of experience.
Along with specific
training and mentoring, we have assigned individuals to projects that are
focused solely on resolving issues related to outsourcing. The individuals are very familiar with the
new teams, management, and structure, and handle communications that aim to
improve efficiency and performance. If
an issue needs to be addressed, these project leaders act as intermediary,
ensuring that correct information is clearly communicated to the teams or
individuals involved. This approach
ensures the availability of resources that are required for providing elevated
ratings have also been developed to make sure that training and mentoring goals
are realized. Although these
measurements are not new to customer support, they have taken on an even more
important role with the new strategy.
One method is the customer survey.
Each customer survey response is taken very seriously, and every concern
is addressed appropriately. In addition, a separate team is dedicated to
listening to incoming calls to observe English skills and other cultural
differences that might need attention.
Each call is recorded, and questions about its handling can then be
reviewed by managers and other HP personnel.
Probably the most
exciting initiative taking place in OpenVMS is the globalization of customer
support. HP has always been a global
company, but efforts in services to join its global resources together to work
as one entity has been elevated to higher priority in the last few years. OpenVMS is working hard to lead the way in
this endeavor. The global chat channel
mentioned previously is just the beginning. Organizational change opportunities
are being taken advantage of to bring resources with like skills together no
matter where they are located in the world.
As of late last year, OpenVMS experts in HP's Australia, Pacific, and
Japan (APJ) region began reporting to a manager from the America's region. Additionally OpenVMS teams in Europe work
closely with the America and APJ team to provide 24x7x365, seamless
support. Processes are in place to pass
calls between the regions when necessary.
An example of successful global support occurred recently, when a
customer in the Americas Region needed an expert in cluster configuration to be
standing by in the early evening. Rather
than require the customer to pay for an off-duty engineer, agreements were made
for an APJ resource to be available at the appropriate time. Although the
resource was required at night in the United States, the APJ engineer could be
engaged during their mid-morning hours.
The flexibility of a large global team also allows regions to cover for
each other without hesitation during holidays and paid-leave periods. Although globalization presents its own
challenges, these are easily outweighed by its achievements in providing
efficient support. How does the
globalization of OpenVMS support help customers? It ensures that an expert can be engaged any
time of the day, anywhere in the world.
Most important, these resources are available to the initial problem
We always welcome feedback and
suggestions from our customer base. In
order to keep the reputation of OpenVMS and its support mechanism at its
well-known levels of quality, we need input from all involved. We encourage customers to share their good
and bad experiences with us, along with ideas for improving their support
experience. Although we are working within the strategy set by HP management,
our goal continues to be providing high levels of quality of OpenVMS support
under any constraint we face.