When troubleshooting a technical issue with Mentor tools, most customers who visit SupportNet use search. In fact, search is the most-used feature on SupportNet. Feedback collected from the SupportNet survey indicates 2/3 of the time customers find answers to their troubleshooting questions.But what about that other 1/3 of the time when the answer isn’t found?
Well it’s our job to find ways to improve these numbers and I’m happy to announce we’ve started down the path of making further improvements to SupportNet search effectiveness.As a first step, we are now using the Google Search Appliance (GSA) as the search engine on SupportNet.
For the last few years we have used a natural language search engine.When answers weren’t found, customers often said “Why can’t you just use Google?” If only it were that simple.Surprisingly, finding an answer on a technical support web site is a different problem than locating information on the Internet. An accurate technical troubleshooting answer depends on a good search algorithm along with other factors that include: content, metadata, product filters, site navigation, as well as the search query.
To determine whether to change our search engine, we ran a comparative A/B test for about 6 months in 2010 where half of the SupportNet sessions involving search were directed to our existing search engine and half of the sessions were sent to the Google Search Appliance.Then we analyzed the data to see if either search engine produced higher troubleshooting success rates or visit satisfaction, and whether there was a difference in how many people opened a service request after searching.As it turned out, we had a tie.There were small differences between the two search engines but most were not statistically significant.The significant difference we detected with Google search was the faster speed with which it returned results.
Next we will begin tuning the other factors beyond the search engine to increase the overall effectiveness of finding an answer on SupportNet.You can help us improve search effectiveness by continuing to let us know when searches don’t work.The SupportNet Survey and the Feedback link on the footer of every SupportNet page are excellent ways to share your thoughts about where we can improve.
We would also like to better understand your expectations for search. Are there certain types of problems that tend to produce good answers with SupportNet search? Are there issues where you have low confidence about finding an answer?You are welcome to post feedback below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.Don’t forget to try the advanced search page for more robust options and search tips. I look forward to hearing from you.
If your site has an active support contract with Mentor, you (or any other user at your site) can request a SupportNet login by going to SupportNet, clicking on the “Register Now” button, and filling out the simple sign-up form. Once you have a SupportNet login, then any time day or night you can do a quick search to see if an answer to your question already exists on SupportNet. 83% of the time, our SupportNet users report that they are successful finding their answer on SupportNet. If you don’t find the right answer to your question, you can submit a Service Request online 24 x 7. You’ll get an automated email from our Global Tracking System with a Service Request number that you can use to track the Service Request interactions with the Customer Applications Engineer. Your Service Request is then put into a queue and is visible to all Mentor's support engineers worldwide with the appropriate product knowledge.
The regional Customer Support Manager monitors all Service Requests from his region to make sure they are picked up promptly by local Customer Application Engineers. While we do not provide support around the clock for all our regional customers as part of our standard support agreement, if you are facing a critical issue with a very tight schedule, you have a chance to get support from another region if adequate resources are available as a one-time exception. Our worldwide support managers assure that for these escalated issues: • The right CAE with insight into your specific projects delivers support; • Communication about your issue is timely and thorough; • We hold regular proactive phone conferences to review and update the issue with you.
“What was my Mentor account team thinking when they recommended I take training? After all, I have used similar products for years and I’m not a newbie. For the most part, aren’t these tools the same?”
If you are asking yourself those questions, the answer to all is an unqualified “No”! The reality is that when new software is installed there is a learning curve that may result in a productivity loss as the user becomes aware of all the functionality in the new tools. There is a cost associated with this loss, so time is critical. The sooner a new user ramps up, the quicker the return on investment. According to a study by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), initial productivity can drop as much as 25% when new software is installed without training.
As a user it is important to seriously consider training on new software regardless of experience. Still trying to justify the cost? Consider the following:
A Global Training and Certification Study found that a 2% increase in productivity from training can net a 100% return on the initial training investment.
A major mobile communications manufacturer calculated that every dollar spent on training yields ~30% gain in productivity within 3 years.
Understanding all of the software’s functionality maximizes your initial EDA investment. You are quicker to respond to market changes which result in product leadership.
Well trained users are more innovative. They are open to exploring multiple design scenarios.
Training results in improved employee morale and satisfaction that reduces employee turnover.
Training helps deliver better quality products leading to an enhanced company image and happier customers.
Now that you understand the impact and importance of training, you may question the convenience of training. You may believe classes held at a Mentor training facilities are not convenient because of the travel costs as well as the time spent away from work and home. Last year we introduced Live Online Training. The positive response from our customers has been overwhelming. Today, the majority of our courses are available in this format. Similar to a traditional classroom setting, the instructor teaches the course live. He is connected to the students via video and voice conferencing. Not only can the students interact with the teacher, they can also interact with each other. The class materials (including labs) are exactly the same as those used in the traditional classroom setting. Over and over customers tell us these courses are effective, citing that the #1 and #2 benefits are elimination of travel costs and the ability to stay at home to handle their daily business and personal responsibilities.
We in Education Services appreciate your input. It helps us think creatively about your current and future training needs. Please continue to let us know what kinds of training you’d like to see . Who knows; we may already have a solution.
Dan Fried Training Business Development Manager Customer Support Division Mentor Graphics Corporation email@example.com
Every spring, we invite you to take part in our Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. It is the foundation for what we call our “Customer Listening Program,” and is the most comprehensive customer feedback instrument that we have at Mentor.
Each product division participates in development of the survey, and results are shared with corporate executive management and the product groups to drive improvement throughout the company. Your input allows us to better tailor our products and services to your needs. Our goals are to make you more productive and make your job easier. We would like to share a few findings from this year’s effort:
Response: Our response rate increased in 2010. We received well over 5,000 responses from over 2,000 companies. These responses provided us with thousands of detailed assessments of many areas that have been undergoing thorough review by our product, support and documentation groups.
Highs and Lows: The attributes you rated highest for satisfaction this year are the levels of knowledge of our AEs, both in the field and in the SupportCenter. Your lowest satisfaction was with SupportPro, our technical newsletter. You also told us that software performance and speed could use improvement.
Support Attributes: You are generally satisfied with support, find it easy to reach our support team, and rate the knowledge level of our support engineers well. You also give good marks to our technical training. You rate us well on license and software delivery. You would like to see us continue to work on our documentation (especially more examples).
Product Quality and Loyalty: The Product Quality gap – the difference between importance and satisfaction – showed improvement over our 2009 results. For the third year in a row, satisfaction with Overall Product Quality, Quality of New Version Updates, and Technical Support are the attributes that have the highest correlations to customer loyalty.
Results from this survey form the basis of our Product Quality Improvement Award, given annually to the team whose product shows the greatest year over year improvement in satisfaction scores in Overall Product Quality and Quality of New Version Updates. This year’s winning team is the group responsible for DA-IC/IC Station Suite.
If you responded to this year’s survey, we thank you for the feedback. It’s invaluable to better understand your needs and drive change in many areas of the company. We are currently in the planning stages for the 2011 version, and look forward to your continued input and support.
If you have suggestions or questions, please feel free to leave a comment.
“I bought perpetual rights to the software. Why are the authorization codes only for 15 months?” This is a question I hear often. There are several factors that need to be explained in order to understand the bigger picture.
Customers who purchased perpetual products own perpetual rights to the software. Mentor will ensure you have active authorization codes to run the software regardless of your maintenance contract status. Here is the process:
Generally you will get a quote for maintenance renewal 60 to 90 days before your current contract expires.
Once you renew your maintenance, an email with a link to download your new 15 month authorization code file is sent to you.
Your current authorization codes give you until 3 months after your current contract expires to load the new authorization code file.
These authorization codes include your new contract expiration date, and allow you to run any new version of software released prior to that date.
As long as you renew your maintenance contract, you will get updated authorization codes with the latest Exact Access dates every year, ensuring you can run the latest version of our products.
Should you lose track of time, many of our products will remind you that the authorization code is going to expire in X number of days. This will give you plenty of time to download the new authorization code file from SupportNet, or contact us if you need to.
If you choose not to renew maintenance for any of the products at your site (which we hope you never do), we will send you 5 year authorization codes that include the date your last maintenance contract expired. This authorization code file will only allow you to run versions of software released prior to your last contract expiration date. These 5 year authorization codes will continue to be renewed at no charge.
If at any time, you need a copy of your current authorization code file, you can always download it from SupportNet whether you are on maintenance or not. If you need a new authorization code file, you can contact us and we will send you a new one right away. This is one of the factors that drove us to our 15 month authorization code policy. We found several cases where a new authorization code was requested, and the old one was still being used as well. We refer to this as License Leakage. Shorter authorization codes help us avoid inadvertently generating, and help you avoid inadvertently using, more license files than were paid for.
Occasionally our products are sold or given to third parties in violation of the End User License Agreement . By having shorter term authorization codes we can ensure that at some point we have visibility because unauthorized users will need to ask for new authorization codes.
The bottom line is that the perpetual license is "forever" so long as you are complying with the license agreement. The authorization codes are not forever, but are easily and proactively renewed.
We all wish that authorization codes were not needed, but reality dictates otherwise. If you feel you have legitimate reasons why you need a longer authorization code, please contact me to discuss what options may be available. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Within Mentor Graphics features are created at an atomic level. This allows us to use the same feature in multiple locations, or to group features in order to perform some operation. Then Marketing groups various features into products to address the various market needs and to help us realize a return on our development investment. Our competition does the same thing.
As a result, license packaging often doesn’t map directly to the software purchased. We have provided two methods to help you sort this out.
First is a License Feature & Part Number Lookup Report on SupportNet that allow customers to look up the license features that map to their site(s) purchase orders:
Second, to make it even easier for customers to understand how the features in their Authorization Code file map to the software they purchased, we added a License Content section at the bottom of each license file. This content mapping in the AC file is comparable to the content mapping in our competitors Authorization Code files. We hope that providing this information within the Authorization Code file itself will ease confusion so customers won't have to run a license feature map report on SupportNet. The License Content section shows the Part Number, Description of the package and its corresponding license features:
I know this is a bit complicated, but then the designs you are completing with our various packages are not a walk in the park either. Let me know what additional questions you have regarding this.
This is the first of several blogs that will talk about some of the things Mentor Graphics does and try to explain why. Although I have a list of topics that I think are questions many of you have, I encourage you to submit questions that might be of interest to you and other readers.
To get you started, here is a list of some of the topics I am planning to cover.
Why does Mentor need your test cases?
What are the pros and cons of electronic support versus direct 1:1 support?
What are the Annual Satisfaction Survey results used for, and what were this year’s results?
Why is a "perpetual" authorization code 15 months?
How can we share data securely and remotely?
What training alternatives does Mentor have?
Why does Mentor deliver all software electronically?
What is centralized support and how might it impact you as a user?
Why will Mentor deliver documentation on SupportNet instead of with the product?
I hope for open dialog on each of the topics. I fully expect we will disagree on some of them. The point of this blog is not necessarily to convince you that our methods are correct, it is more to help you see our side of the issue and learn more about how our position affects you. After 30+ years in the support industry, I know that understanding more about how our decisions impact you can often lead to changes to minimize that impact.
Obviously some of the things we do are to protect our intellectual property and to secure our financial position. But sometimes what we do has impacts we haven’t considered. We have a strong history of getting feedback from users and then making changes based on that feedback. Generally factoring in your position results in better processes for all of us.
I will try to update this blog every couple of weeks with a new entry. Please check back occasionally to see what’s new.
At Mentor we understand that you are the ones paying the money. We are interested in your thoughts and want your experience with us to be as positive as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.