Your provider’s technical-support team will usually have a timeline they like to meet. If they don’t answer a customer’s call immediately, they will try their best to return the call in a specific time frame. A good number of support providers track each incoming telephone call, allowing the service manager to follow the progress of calls and make adjustments by redistributing the workload to keep within objectives.
When calling for assistance, you may or may not reach a technician immediately. Of course, we would all like to be helped the moment we call and not have to wait in line or leave a message. However, considering the level of expertise required to answer your questions and effectively solve your troubles, your software provider will staff only professionals who are trained and experienced. These seasoned individuals are not always easy to come by—at least not the very talented ones. In many cases, not just anyone can correctly answer your questions or solve your problem.
One more thing you might consider is there are days and times where higher call volume can be expected. Monday morning might be busier than Friday afternoon. The next business day after a three-day weekend or the first and last days of the month might see a rise in activity compared to most other days of the month. Another factor that can play into the time it takes to resolve an issue is its complexity. Diagnosing a problem will likely require more time to resolve than simple questions dealing with the program operation.
Ask your software vendor what kind of training it offers for you and your staff. Most reputable vendors do offer training for its products, usually at its headquarters, or at state and regional conferences. If sending someone away for a few days is not possible, with the help of a good manual and a few quick phones calls to the provider’s technical team, you and your managers will be quickly on your way. As far as camera or security systems are concerned, onsite training is often provided by the installer.
Can your software provider point you in the direction of a users group consisting of others who work with the same products? Such a group has great value to your manager. Simply enroll in the group online and get involved with questions, answers and comments.
Finally, always know your support provider's hours of operation and the time zone in which it resides. If there’s a problem plaguing your office, will you have to wait until the following day for help? While you probably won’t base your software selection solely on the vendor's location, scheduling certain office activities accordingly—such as upgrades, new installations, end-of-month activities, etc.—might reduce frustration levels and help you obtain the assistance you need, when you need it.
David Essman is the director of marketing for Sentinel Systems Corp. of Lakewood, Colo. Sentinel has been a manufacturer of self-storage management software and security systems since 1975. For more information, call 800.456.9955; e-mail www.sentinelsystems.com.