Behind the Scenes: Milestone Systems’ Tech Support Prowess

Milestone Systems Senior Support Manager Gary St. Arnauld discusses what it takes to provide superior technical support to security dealer and integrator channel partners, plus insights into the company’s tech support structure.

No matter how great a manufacturer’s products may be, the way that a company operates and interacts with its stakeholders can really make a difference in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Gary St. Arnauld, senior support manager at Milestone Systems, has been instrumental in carrying out changes to the Americas-based teams that he leads. This has resulted in a more nimble, efficient support organization over the years. His efforts are credited with helping the company garner SSI‘s 2015 Supplier Stellar Service Platinum Award for Technical Support, an honor voted on by installing dealer and integrator readers of the magazine.

In the following interview, St. Arnauld talks about enacting these changes to meet growing demands, working with different teams across the globe and what’s in store for Milestone’s tech support going forward.

What is your view on the value of tech support, and how the company invests resources to further its growth?
Providing good support is a high priority from upper management. Our software is offered in a full portfolio with very comprehensive functionality at the high end that involves more sophisticated and complex projects, so it’s absolutely necessary for us to provide top-notch support – and we have invested in the people and tools we need to perform at the highest levels.

How is tech support structured?
We take a little different approach than other organizations when it comes to delegating support tasks. We have a tiered-support model and organize our resources into Frontline, Backline and Sustaining Engineering teams. The Frontline support team can handle a wide range of L1/L2 cases, which makes up the vast majority of our total support volume. If it gets to a point where the issue is determined to be in our licensed software [L3], it gets handed off to Backline, which is a more specialized team.

Level 1 cases refer to solutions to issues that can be found in a knowledge-based article available in our online system, or in a manual or guide. Second level issues are where we begin to do some investigation and troubleshooting. We work with the partner or customer to identify if this is an issue in our application or in the environment – a network issue, operating issue or server-side issue that’s contributing to the problem. For level 3 cases we do test setups to ascertain whether it’s a software issue or not. If it’s determined to be something with the software, the case is sent to our engineering team who create a ‘hotfix’.

What kinds of things do you typically advise about?
It’s mostly environmental considerations such as the sizing of servers, and making sure they can handle a high volume of data traffic. For smaller installations, we work through simpler things like how to set up and manage a camera, how to create different views, things on that level.

What percentage of tech support questions deal with software vs. hardware?
In many of our investigations, we’ve found that the problem is in the system, not in the software. For example, either the network or the system was not sized correctly to begin with. But people often call Milestone because our part of the solution is their main interface to the entire system.

What does this indicate to you?
This industry has been evolving from analog to IP for many years now. With that comes new challenges for everyone in the industry, from manufacturers and resellers to installers and integrators. We all need to develop new skills as innovations march us forward. Video produces very large data files that can tax a system much more than the business data of conventional IT systems, and it’s imperative that installers develop a comprehensive understanding of big data, both for installation and troubleshooting purposes.

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