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Law & Order Channel Victims Unit: Managed SD-WAN Edition

C.P. McGrowl, Channel Curmudgeon

C.P. McGrowl

By C.P. McGrowl, Chief Channel Curmudgeon

Gary Vaynerchuk, a serial entrepreneur and CEO, and author of The Hustler’s Digest newsletter, has a great line he uses about how crazy it is for people to do business one way, and then, as consumers, expect to be treated in a completely different way. It’s just common sense: Sell unto others as you would have them sell unto you.

Still, even with as much sales and marketing advice as our industry consumes, we don’t seem to learn. Have you seen the Net Promoter scores for our biggest suppliers?

Sometimes, you can break through. This author once wrote these lines in a complaint to a Fortune 100 telecom company I had a billing problem with: “Aren’t you consumers also? Have you EVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH A LARGE FACELESS CORPORATION THAT PROMISES TO FIX SOMETHING AND DOESN’T? You’re humans … right?”

Amazingly, they fixed the problem the next day. Still, for every tale of redemption, there are 8 million stories in the naked city that don’t end nearly so well.

Here’s one, delivered for your consideration as a case log of my first experience with a supplier’s “managed support” SD-WAN service. The value proposition for me was that the company promised to manage, as a third-party, other suppliers’ internet connections. Anyone who’s tried to wrangle a bunch of constituent SD-WAN connections will immediately see the appeal. This is a well-respected company with smart people, so I thought, “Let’s try it out. They’ve got the resources, scale and ability to deliver.”

This is their story.

Case log: Received an email telling me the SD-WAN was non-responsive at a customer’s site. It’s a single link, a decision based on price. I asked the customer to power-cycle their equipment. You know how people love to hear, “Did you try turning it off then turning it back on again?”

This is a big, important customer, so the problem had my full attention. (Case note: Yes, of course, all my customers are important, point taken.)

Meanwhile, the supplier sent an email to the customer and me asking, “Hey, does your site have power? Because we noticed your SD-WAN stopped responding … ”

(Case note: Yes, it would have made more sense for them to have instead called the site directly to verify if it had power.)

Anyway, I immediately called the supplier myself and, to its credit, a tech answered on the first ring. I explained why I was calling and asked, “Did you contact the service provider to verify service before sending an email about power?”

His answer: “No, we just assumed the power went out.”

To be clear: This customer is paying a premium for proactive third-party support, and this is Step 1 of the as-advertised process: Open a ticket with the internet supplier to confirm if service is working.

(Case note: Starting to think the customer should have spent the money on a redundant link instead.) 

Next step, I asked the tech, “Would you please call the internet supplier and check to see if there is a problem?” Not adding: “As your contract states you will.”

Spoiler alert: There was a KNOWN AREA OUTAGE affecting multiple customers.

The tech called me back a few minutes later: “AT&T says …

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