How Avaya Augments the Work of its Support Engineers

The following was originally posted at http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/2015/02/how-avaya-augments-the-work-of-its-support-engineers.html.

In late January, Microsoft announced a virtual reality project called HoloLens. The reviews of the prototypes have been positive, and I can see why: Virtual reality has been something geeks have been reading about, seeing in movies and TV shows, and dreaming about for years.

While virtual reality systems are not entirely new, what is different this time is that Microsoft is behind it.

While Microsoft may not be known for cutting edge “cool” technologies, they bring something new that may just drive adoption of VR like we’ve never seen before: The enterprise.

The demo of this technology even includes a Skype conversation that appears within the VR goggles and can be “pinned” in virtual space, allowing the wearer to look away as need be. The demo takes this use case even further, by using that video call to help someone do some home repairs. When I saw this, it quickly reminded me of this older video from BMW:


In this video, we watch a mechanic use similar VR goggles for diagnostic assistance in working on a BMW engine. These glasses give the mechanic information on exactly how to do each new step, including the tools and motions for successful completion. Not only does this allow for fast, uniform, and high-quality repairs, but it does so with reduced training of the mechanic, enabling the vendor to provider excellent customer service.

I’ve always found this vision inspiring in my daily work of improving how Avaya Support Engineers do their daily work. How can we build diagnostic tools that augment our engineers (and the engineers working for our certified business partners) by providing them the real-time information they need to quickly identify the root cause of a problem and implement a solution?

Given that most of our work is software, and not hardware, we don’t exactly need Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles, but the mental framework is the same.

Like Microsoft’s home repair example, we know that sometimes you need more than a written or video-based knowledge article; sometimes a fellow human is what you need.

As such, Avaya enabled audio- and video calling between our customers and our engineers as well as enabling our engineers to quickly video call each other to “swarm” around a customer issue. We’ve also built scripts that know what to check on our products and create a red/yellow/green dashboard report for the user so they can quickly scan for known configuration issues.

We’ve found that this not only speeds up the checks our engineers would have done anyway, but also gets them to look at things they might not have thought to.

What’s even faster than speeding up the work an engineer does? Automating the work entirely. We’ve invested years of effort in automating how we handle the alarms our products send, allowing us to handle 85 percent of alarms without any human interaction, drastically improving resolution times and CSAT.

What diagnostics tools do you use in your work? Any you would recommend others use for troubleshooting Avaya products? Or just for doing plumbing or other things we all get involved with from time to time? What do you wish was available to make troubleshooting faster and better?

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The 5 Reasons Why I Joined Avaya Global Support Services

The following was originally posted at http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/2015/02/the-5-reasons-why-i-joined-avaya-support-services.html

A couple months ago, I found myself around the family kitchen table attempting to explain to my wife why I was considering leaving my current role at Avaya for another. Between requests and “stories” from our three young children, I explained that I was considering joining the leadership team of our support organization as a strategy leader.

As I cut some food for my daughter and passed the ketchup to the boys (is there such a thing as too much ketchup?), I told my wife about how Avaya Support has gone through a huge evolution in the last couple of years, earned a lot of recognition, and are now looking to take their delivery to another level.

Although I would very much enjoy having you, oh beloved reader, at our family dinner table, alas, the logistics just do not allow for such wonderful things. While I cannot share some of my wife’s amazing cooking, I will share with you the reasons why I think Avaya Support will continue to be not only an industry-leader, but an innovator in delivering value to our clients.

Downtime is the enemy

91 Percent of Outages Resolved in 2 Hours or Less

We know that system outages are the worst thing that can happen to our clients, and as such, we have dedicated teams trained on restoring down systems as fast as possible. If that isn’t great enough, I’m really excited that they have begun to reach out to our clients when we know they are at risk.

For example, we know that having a recent backup allows restore times in 2.5 hours instead of 1.5 days. Given the industry average of $110,000 of cost to the customer for every hour of outage, this makes a huge difference to our clients. If a client doesn’t have a recent backup, we reach out and help them implement a backup strategy. These engineers are inspiring on how customer focused they are.

Death to Rework

Our support team hates rework and that’s why every time one of our wicked-smart engineers finds a new problem, she will document it and publish the solution tohttp://support.avaya.com instantly. As if that isn’t enough, we use our own Avaya technology,Avaya Automated Chat, to help our customers easily find what they are looking for.

Avaya Ava

In fact, our implementation of this technology, dubbed “Ava”, has become the face of Avaya. How cool is that? Even when Ava fails to find you a solution, she succeeds by putting you in touch with an Avaya engineer and passing that engineer your full history, so that you don’t have to start all over.

Not Just a Phone Company

As a Gen-X’er myself, I despise talking to customer support on the phone; and Avaya gets that. Not only do we work with customers over the phone, email, or online chat, but last year, they deployed a first-in-the-industry video chat option using our own products.

If you haven’t tried this yet, stop what you’re doing; and just check it out. Wicked cool stuff. Of course the hot topic is support via social media–something I’ve written on–and now you have an opportunity to see what @Avaya_Support can start doing.

Innovative Diagnostics

Perhaps my most passionate topic over the years has been around diagnostics for Avaya products.

Avaya Support continues to raise the bar in the space of diagnostics. I get irritated when I see valuable time of our human experts being used to validate basic settings, gather log files, etc.

We’ve got really exciting technology that leverages our lessons learned from years of troubleshooting hundreds of thousands of customer systems and we embed that into tools that can solve product issues without an engineer; which means our customer gets an issue resolved in a matter of minutes.

I’m excited that we’re not resting on those laurels, but continuing to invest in improvements and all-new tools to keep satisfying our customers.

Satisfied Customers

As a result, in 2014, 92% of our clients indicated that their overall support experience was excellent, very good, or good. Read that last sentence again. 92%! Isn’t that amazing!

When we look at Avaya’s Net Promoter Score, as an entire company, we were at 65 the last quarter (average of 50 over the last 4 quarters), putting us in best-in-class with Amazon and other companies and beating out companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Shoretel. Read morehere.

Avaya Client Services

Please don’t just take my word for the impact of the items above. In October 2014, I was proud to join other Avaya Client Services leaders in Las Vegas at the TSW 2014 Conference, hosted by TSIA. Avaya walked away with three awards for our efforts in Avaya Client Services, putting Avaya in TSIA’s STAR Awards Hall Of Fame.

As you may surmise from the above, I was convinced this was the right move for me and I’ve made the shift. As part of this new role, I plan on continuing to bring you stories from Avaya Support as a means to help our customers and partners derive as much value as possible out of their Avaya Support agreements.

*Based on internal metrics in 2014


Firey Snow Fort

Two days ago, on Twitter, this image came across my feed:

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(Link to source)

I posted it on Facebook thinking, Ha! Wouldn’t this be cool. Then, yesterday, I had a few hours to kill with the kids, so why not? We only had 2 feet of snow on the ground in my backyard, so it was no small feat to build up the walls. First, we had to locate the circle of stones that we use as a fire pit in the warm months. After that, we dug out around it, piling the snow up on the walls. Later, I got the snowlbower out and snowblowed in the yard, throwing the snow where the walls should be. Overnight, we got ~3″ of wet packing snow which was great today and I spent a couple more hours building up the walls and even making a built-in snow bench (the kids wanted this. Me? I’d rather sit in a dry chair.) It was wicked nice to spend the afternoon today sitting around the fire with the family in the sunlight, and pretending that the frigid cold wasn’t coming back tomorrow.

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Relaxing after a long day of shoveling

The boys helping me; good shot of the built-in bench.

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Overhead shot of the job.