Insist on rational troubleshooting!
By jimmo on May 06, 2008
Sometimes, things break...it happens. This can be annoying but if you can log a support call and get the problem diagnosed and resolved in a timely manner, that can be such a positive experience that it actually more than offsets the inconvenience of the original problem. A customer can feel confident that they're in good hands and that their support contract was a worthwhile investment.
If the reported problem is in any way complex, then the only way to get this done effectively is with a rational troubleshooting process. Taking intuitive guesses at what the problem may be and/or making repeated requests for data in the hope of "getting lucky" are guaranteed, sure-fire ways to drive a customer up the wall with frustration.
What follows is a spiral of chaos - the customer starts beating up on the service and account teams. They, in turn, can panic and exacerbate the problem with even more earnest but futile wild stabs in the dark. The customer soon gets the sense that nobody has any idea what's going on. Conference calls ensue, fists bang on tables and the crazy scrabble for progress on the issue continues. Sigh!
It can all be easily avoided through rational troubleshooting!
The Sun Global Resolution (SGR) process is a rational troubleshooting program derived from Kepner-Tregoe. We use these techniques for gathering, organizing and analyzing problem-specific data. We then base our diagnostic and remedial action plans on this analysis.
The advantages of the process are compelling. Not only do we not make the problem worse by guessing, we quickly distill the data gathering into specific and relevant areas. By organizing related data together and analyzing the results, we can typically identify what is odd, unusual or distinctive about the problem scenario far quicker than relying on intuition alone.
Additionally, the customer can see from our action plans what we're doing, why we're doing it and where we're going. This inspires a whole lot more confidence and keeps everyone in sync.
So why am I blogging about all this? Well, this is a topic dear to my heart! When a problem cannot be diagnosed or resolved by the customer support organization, then it can be escalated to our engineering team. (Note that our cousins in Services do an excellent job - only a tiny percentage of issues ever get escalated to us). Cases where the troubleshooting is uncontrolled are very rare. However, in almost every one of those rare cases that I have been involved with, our rational troubleshooting process has not been applied!.
If you ever feel like a problem is not making good diagnostic progress, go ahead and demand that the SGR process is applied to your issue...and you can quote me on that!