Customer Care.. or the lack of it

Those who know me and/or follows me on Twitter knows that I’m an Apple and Cisco fanboy. Here’s a summary of a week with three events that put a serious dent in my until now flawless marriage with Cisco.

1) Internal issues or just broken Cisco Databases?

Customer #1 runs LMS 4.0. They want to upgrade to LMS 4.2 as well as start looking at Prime Infrastructure. To be able to upgrade licenses their Service Contract number needs to be connected to their CCO account. For some reason this can’t be done. I can’t really put the blame on Cisco as it might very well be internal processes at my own company. But I do believe that there is actually something wrong with Cisco databases. I have been trying to get this working for a month with no success. How hard can it be?

2) So exactly who should I be asking?!

I’ve begun the journey to become a CCSI. After some hassle (and great help from @LearningatCisco) my sponsoring learning partner finally got my account permissions right so that I could purchase the ICP Membership. That only took a week. I purchased the kit and with no small amount of excitement went to download the material. Can’t really say that I was surprised when I was unable to download the LockLizard license file as “my account was marked inactive”.

The obvious choice seemed to be to open a case with the Learning Network Store since something was wrong with my order and/or account. But it wasn’t that obvious. I’ll keep the story short(er): Store Support referred me to CCSI support. CCSI support referred me back to ordering/store support. Someone manually created a new license file and emailed it to me. I was now able to download the files but when I finally got them I could still not open them. I tried opening a case again with ordering support but they referred me to LockLizard support. After a bit of live chat someone fixed my license and I was able to open the files. Total time from purchase to being able to open the files: 1.5 day. Frustration level: somewhat high.

3) You have got to be kidding me?!

Customer #2 runs NCS with a valid service contract. They now want to upgrade to Prime Infrastructure. On behalf of the customer I created a generic Prime CCO account to be used for license registration as well as the account used by the actual Prime Appliance to check for upgrades and such. As mentioned above, this account needed to be linked to the customer’s service contract. As you might imagine I felt slightly worried about this process (see 1 above). As it turns out there were no issues what so ever with linking this customer. I of course asked if it would also work for Customer #1 but nope, there were still issues there.

I requested an upgrade of their NCS license by checking the PI 1.2 box in the upgrade tool. I waited about 12 hours and got a new PAK delivered via email. I claimed the PAK using the license tool and guess my surprise when I see that I got a license for LMS 4.2. I figured that something must have gone wrong with the ordering so I opened a case. This is where it gets complicated and to be perfectly honest I don’t even remember all the twists and turns. I’ll try to make a short recap:

Ordering support couldn’t help me as there was nothing wrong with the order itself. They sent me to generic Cisco support.

Cisco support couldn’t help me because.. well.. they’re the generic support and they only do referrals to other support organizations. So on to licensing support I go.

They can’t help me either because from their point of view it’s an ordering issue. I very clearly state how unhappy I am with not finding someone who can help. I finally get a response that feels somewhat good. Licensing asks me to once again describe my problem so that they can find the right person to talk to. I do just that and they create a TAC-case for me.

Buuuut…

TAC can’t help me because according to them I did indeed order LMS 4.2 and not PI 1.2 so there’s nothing wrong with the order, hence: no support needed. I double check my order confirmation and it clearly states that I ordered PI 1.2, not LMS 4.2. They tell me to talk to licensing AGAIN.

I re-request the PI1.2 license. I make VERY sure to do it right and not miss any optional check boxes. I once again am rewarded with a 4.2 license.

So once again I try to get licensing to help me but they tell me that only deal with ordering (remember how they previously told me that they don’t do ordering support) and this is not about ordering. I apparently need to co-ordinate with my Cisco Sales rep. Which I of course already have. My Cisco Sales Rep told me to talk to licensing since it’s obviously an issue with not getting the correct license file.

And this is where we stand still.

Conclusion

I work for a very large Cisco Partner. My job is to help customers get what they need. This is how my company makes money. We HELP customers. I have one very simple rule when it comes to finding the right person when a customer needs something. I do not ever (E V E R) refer them to someone else. If I can’t help them myself I make sure to find the right person internally and then ask this someone to contact the customer. Now this might seem like too much work for me and I agree, it is. It’s not something I enjoy doing as it can sometimes mean days of digging just to find someone who can help. But look at it from the customer’s viewpoint . They asked me for help and I say that I don’t know myself but I will find someone who does. This someone then gets back to them and the issue is resolved. What would happen if I instead just referred them to someone else? Well, see above! If I treated my customers like Cisco has treated me this week they would find another Cisco Partner! It’s really quite simple logic.

Getting things done is a matter of taking responsibility. Do it and you will inspire others to do the same.

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