When I talk to candidates about Customer Service and Support I often get the dreaded sigh of disinterest. After some probing I find that they think the position is a call center job and they are far too qualified to be doing “that” type of work. I then spend a good 10 minutes explaining that this is NOT a call center – you will NOT be stuck on the phone hour after hour answering call after call. I go on auto-pilot with these conversations and sometimes I feel like a broken record. So today I would like to set the record straight…although I have a feeling this won’t be my last time….but maybe I can send this post over to future candidates and after they read it they will be jumping on the phone so quick to talk to me they won’t know what hit them!

 

Wikipedia’s Definition of a Call Center:

A call centre or call center is a centralized office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. A call center is often operated through an extensive open workspace for call center agents, with work stations that include a computer for each agent, a telephone, headset connected to a telecom switch, and one or more supervisor stations.


Our Support and Escalation engineers handle some of the most technically difficult challenges that face fortune 500 companies. They dive directly into the code and make sure our products works to our customers’ needs. I want to be clear here, yes, you are issued a headset to talk with your customers – the phone is still our primary communication tool. These roles sit in two different worlds. At one moment you are talking to the CEO of Walmart explaining to him why his Exchange Server won’t work and the next minute you are deep diving into code and debugging/investigating. You may be the fourth and FINAL tier of escalation – there is no one else to turn to and you WILL figure out this problem, because you are one of the most highly technical people that our company employs.

 

So let’s imagine someone at your company tries to send a 5GB email file and subsequently NO one in your entire company can receive email. Who ya gonna call?? Well you will call into Microsoft’s technical support department and immediately be escalated to our Support Escalation Engineers – they are going to do whatever it takes to figure out the problem. Now at this point, no one knows what is going on, we have very little information. Meanwhile its created a work stoppage for your entire company. Our team here at Microsoft will have to manually go into the Exchange database and find the problem and prune out the file. Painstaking…yes…but this type of talent requires knowing the code, debugging and finally having the communication skills to keep an entire company calm under pressure.

 

Or how about a shipping company during the holidays. What happens when they receive a record number of packages and they start pushing their systems to the edge causing outages that begin to delay planes, trucking unloading and package routing. Not even Santa Claus can use his magic to fix this! With little information our Escalation team comes in and saves the holiday – they identify the root cause of the issue and quickly tune the system.

 

These are critical issues for companies, and when credibility and reliability are at stake, we won’t stop until we have resolution. CSS is a vibrant support organization that handles REAL life crisis  - yes, they are the VOICE of Microsoft and they also are the trusted advisor to our most important asset – our customers.  

 

Within Customer Service and Support you have the opportunity to make a difference to so many people – you are not sitting in a dark office creating one piece of the software, you are ensuring that all pieces work together for our customers. I have worked across many groups in Microsoft over the years, and this is one of the most talented, thoughtful and hard working group of individuals that I have met. They are often the face to the company, and they quickly stand behind the quality, versatility and durability of our products and services.

 

Sound interesting…listen to these:

http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog/archive/2007/01/26/jobcast-life-as-an-escalation-engineer.aspx
http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog/archive/2007/11/21/life-as-an-escalation-engineer-part-ii.aspx