EMC has always been known for its aggressive customer support. Sometimes it sounds as if the whole company pivots around a problem at a customer data center. Now with the recent announcement of Agile Support, however, it has outlined an aggressive, comprehensive expansion of its support program. Agile Support combines:
- Online versions of maintenance manuals and other printed information;
- Web-based self-service;
- Webinars with key EMC executives, engineers, and marketing personnel;
- Twitter and other social media.
All of this is being delivered in a growing list of languages selected based on customer requests to multiple end-user devices including laptops, tablets, and smart phones. The object, says EMC VP of Global Strategy and Operations Christopher Scollo, is to “deliver the information the customer needs, in the form that is most convenient to the customer and language that the customer prefers, on the device the customer wants to use.”
If this means a video or slide show of a procedure with text in Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, or Basque, to a tablet or smartphone, then the goal of Agile Support is to deliver that not as a special effort but as a normal, routine service. And, Scollo points out, that “customer” can mean an EMC field engineer, an end user, or a channel partner.
EMC is not the only vendor upgrading its support, says IDC Research Manager Elaina Stergiades. “Most major hardware and software support services providers are expanding online support resources to include robust portals with multiple avenues of support delivery…. That being said, EMC has rolled out support channels like chat fairly aggressively, and – when combined with recent modifications to support delivery teams – has seen improvement in support delivery and customer experience over time.”
Chat and customer forums are a major focus on Agile Support, driven by customer requests. “Customers who three years ago would have picked up the phone have told us they prefer chat,” says Scollo, who sits in EMC’s Global Services unit. “And we want to deliver chat in the language that the customer prefers. When a customer has a technical question and can type it out that often can be a clearer method of communication than voice.”
Forums that “give customers a chance to interact with each other are gaining a lot of positive reactions from our customers,” he says. These let customers help each other as well as communicate with EMC experts. EMC is using online translation services to open these conversations to customers who speak different languages to further break down barriers.
And part of the point of Agile Support is to facilitate combining these media, so that a customer may start a conversation with EMC via chat and then move to telephone or other media.
Social media also enters into the equation. EMC support has its own Twitter handle and uses it to communicate with customers. And EMC is using Big Data technologies to search social media for comments about it and its products and related discussions among customers as another way of understanding what customers need.
Languages are another major focus of Agile Support. A few years ago support was delivered in a limited number of major languages. Today EMC’s goal is to communicate with individual customers, partners, and support staff in the language and often dialect they prefer, in the medium they want. That includes, for instance, both European and Brazilian Portuguese, and potentially Quebecois as well as European French.
Delivery to multiple end-user devices is also an important focus. “If our field support people or customers use mobile devices – and they all do – we want to deliver the information on those devices, because the better we can equip them the more effective they can be at the customer’s site,” Scollo said.
This is still a work in progress, Scollo admits, but he is already looking ahead to the next step: Proactive support. “We have been a massive reactive organization,” he says. Now EMC is beginning to harness advanced analysis of data from multiple sources, including the internal diagnostics built into its devices in customer data centers, to intercept problems before they develop and, beyond that, to help customers improve their environments and find ways to save money or support new business initiatives.
“Everything we do is built around being there for our customers when they need us,” Scollo said. “Agile support is built on that same premise, around how we can respond to and proactively deliver support to them in the way in which they want it. That is what customers expect from EMC, a world-class support experience.”