The Quickest Way To Save Tech Support Time

Date: 4th December 2012
Author: Deri Jones

This time of year is a stressful one for all the eCommerce teams of the retailers I work with – everyone is absolutely flat out!

Christmas sales are on, and everyone is nervous. Will the  carefully planned marketing really do what’s needed?  Fingers are crossed that there will be no technical glitches on the live siteto get in the way of the orders peaking.

That being the case, it was good to hear how  the latest monitoring approaches are able to create extra time for the hard pressed Support and Service management tech teams.

Making sure that unexpected technical problems are resolved and understood as fast as possible is paramount, making sure they can be anticipated and pre-empted is even better still!

Networking with a couple of teams I found that, despite the pressure:

  • one support team has found they’ve got the luxury of 2 extra hours in the week  each – simply through using the latest monitoring approaches!
  • one support team  sailed through a tight spot this week with time to spare.
  • one support team tell me, they were able to stay calm and unhurried – and even had fun at a managers expense! You can read their heartwarming story below.

A Christmas Monitoring Story

Under a lunch-time traffic peak, some journey monitoring showed a slowdown on one particular check-out route.

Nothing was broken, nothing was down, but there was a slowdown, not across the whole site, but only on the crucial checkout user journey.

Quickly phone calls were were chasing round the office

  • The Web Analytics guys jumped in to say the numbers were dropping!
  • A call from upstairs said the sales the last hour were great but they’d heard of a problem. Was there a problem they should know about?
  •  The management sudddenly were involved and the temperatures across the eCommerce teams looked set to rise!

The Support guys were immediately on the receiving end: “find out what’s wrong with your stuff and fix it now!”

In the past there would have been  a hurried investigation to find root causes, it’s hard to think straight and be analytical under that kind of pressure!

The hyped up manager barged in with sweat on his brow, and was about to bark something, but held it back and said more constructively, ‘When can you fix your stuff, do you know what it is even?’

There was a pregnant pause.

The team all looked across to him.

The support team lead didn’t speak, picked up his tea-cup and took another mouthful.

Without speaking, he nodded his head sideways, across to the big screen status wallboards.

Raised his eyebrows as if questioning.

“You remember we explained the new journey wall-boards we’ve had for 4 or 5 months now? Remember?

Well, that icon up there – the ‘3’ – right there on the green bars,  there the last 30 minutes where they aren’t green any more but red?

That 3 means ‘3rd party’.

It’s telling us the problem is not on our servers but a 3rd-parties.

So, er nothing we can do to fix it”

The manager started to speak, and just stuttered: “But..but….sales… but…”

“Hang on though”  said the Support Team Lead, “we’re not doing nothing, you know?
We know where it is.
We checked.
It’s a weird slowdown at our payment gateway partner.

We’ve already been on to them just 15 minutes ago, soon as we saw it.
They’d seen the email Alert from our monitoring, too.

They think they know what it is and are just fixing it.

Ah – talk of the devil,  that Journey’s just turned green on the screen.  If the problem  stays fixed, we’ll get an SMS from the monitoring in 5 minutes to to say it’s sorted, that the Journey’s back to normal speed.

So all happy eh.

I do wonder though, why did that payment provider get chosen  – wasn’t my decision!

What I’ll do though, I’ll add you to the Alerts list – just for problems at 3rd-parties.  Just to keep you in the know, eh? ”

The eCommerce manager swallowed, smiled, and he turned to leave saying “Great, er thanks. Yes, well done.  No, er no that’s good.”

And they all lived happily after.