Premier Support for Partners: A Winning Strategy
David Weiler, Application Development Manager, explains how the Premier Support for Partners relationship provides value above and beyond traditional technical support.
Most already know about Premier’s fantastic support for Enterprise customers and Software Development Teams. If you are running a business that relies on Microsoft technology, our offerings are there to help with maintaining a healthy and low-risk environment and build quality software. While we usually talk about support directly between Microsoft and end-customers, Microsoft Partners provide a huge range of services and solutions using our technologies. This is a very important space that comes with unique challenges and expectations. If you are a partner, why should you consider using a Premier agreement? After all, with all the great benefits that come with the Microsoft Partner Network, what additional value does Premier offer?
I’d like to start by saying that as an Application Development Manager, I normally work with software and hardware vendors on developer cases and engagements. However, I manage a Premier Support relationship with a major Microsoft Partner that performs a massive amount of consulting work, among other services.
This partner purchased their first Premier Support for Partners contract about 2 years ago. When we first started working together, they were primarily interested in our reactive support and only wanted to use it when their consulting team ran into an unsolvable issue. Our first few months were relatively quiet, then disaster struck. In the middle of a large deployment, their customer suffered a major outage. The partner raised a critical (Severity A) support incident with Premier. Microsoft’s support teams quickly resolved the issue and provided a thorough root cause, isolating and identifying faulty hardware. Without Premier’s assistance and the added ability to raise and manage a critical support case, the partner could have lost the entire engagement. Building on established trust from the first experience, the partner began to rely on our reactive support for major deployment blockers. Their architects created new partnerships with our support teams and learned best practices around deploying and maintaining our newest products.
Soon enough, I knew their consulting team on a first-name basis. They looked to Premier to get them the answers they needed, when they needed them. Around the same time, they started looking into proactive services for their knowledge gaps. The first gap we worked on filling was with Office 365. As the cloud service evolved, their team struggled to keep up with new features and changes to the service. I was set them up with our exclusive Premier-only workshops that cover how to apply and deploy Microsoft’s newest technologies. These workshops ensured their consultants were prepared to utilize Microsoft’s latest tools and features and increased their chances for successful deployments.
It wasn’t only our workshops that provided them with great value; we also set up proactive engagements for their end customers. These engagements were tailored around the partner’s specific needs, and provided only deliverables that the partner required. Overall, their clients were excited about these engagements. Not only did it show that Microsoft was investing in the success of their project, but it revealed the strong relationship between Microsoft and the partner. This led to higher satisfaction on partner engagements and higher deployment success rates.
The final piece of the puzzle was me: their Application Development Manager. As their ADM, I am an advocate for them within Premier and Microsoft. When they opened a critical incident, I ensured they received the resources required as soon as possible and that the right team stayed engaged until the problem was resolved. As they focused on resolving technical issues, I managed communications: creating detailed reports of current events and investigations, identifying new engineering resources as engaged engineers ended their shifts, providing updates to stakeholders both within and outside of Microsoft, and involving additional support teams when necessary. These activities allowed them to keep momentum on the problem itself, leading to faster resolution times. In the end, we did what was needed to keep an engagement on-track.
As their advisor, I monitor their overall cases and suggested proactive activities to reduce our dependency on reactive hours. These activities involved training their teams on Microsoft best practices when it came to deploying and maintaining our products. Each training was tailored to their consultants’ strengths and weaknesses. This level of avocation and advisement would not be available without Premier.
My advocacy extended outside of Premier as well. When they needed information on updated pricing for CSAs and other services, I was able to find answers internally, saving valuable time and allowing them to provide quicker responses to their customers. Since their consultants worked directly with end customers, I involved them in advocacy programs so they could share feedback on our latest products and services. When they needed to work with other organizations within Microsoft, I was able to identify and connect them with the correct individuals.
How much value did the partner get out of their Premier agreement? In a recent satisfaction survey they shared that their relationship with Premier was the best relationship they held with Microsoft. In just two years, the Premier relationship transformed from a mere curiosity to a vital partner in ensuring their success with clients. Their ability to share with clients that Microsoft will get involved if things go askew is a huge value-add, and can make the difference between winning a bid at the end of the day.
Because, after all, isn’t that what a partnership is all about?