A NetApp Support Account Manager (SAM) is a customer’s personal advocate. Besides requiring great communication skills and attention to detail, the SAM role requires knowledge of the customer’s environment and an understanding of what’s important to the customer’s company. These capabilities become apparent to our customers as they develop their personal relationship with their SAM and work together to achieve their business objectives.
Typically, SAMs spend most of their time helping to proactively review the health of a customer’s NetApp estate and resolve any issues. Throughout these interactions, the SAM highlights potential risks or problems and works with the customer’s team to remediate them. The SAM also assists with lifecycle management and continually looks for areas of improvement in products and processes. However, each day can present new challenges, some of which can be quite complex. This blog post provides a snippet of the types of challenges that can be seen on any given day by NetApp SAMs. Come along and see what our team has been doing...
The call came in as Sean was starting his day. The customer’s data center was down, and immediate assistance was required. Sean reached out to his customer and initiated a cross-team call with their operations team, the NetApp account team, and the NetApp technical support team to understand the situation more clearly and then get to work on diagnosing and troubleshooting.
The crucial first step in any type of network-down situation is to get a clear problem statement from the customer—to understand what occurred and what changes might have led to the current condition. In this instance, Sean discovered that the customer’s data center fire suppression system had failed, pouring water over most of their equipment for almost 6 hours. The big question, at this point, was how the SAM could best assist in this rare event and how to resolve a complicated and water-logged situation. As their SAM, Sean was able to take care of them and handle all the coordination to get things done.
Meanwhile, Rick was also getting his day started with a standing customer conference call. The customer had recently purchased a new solution from NetApp—one that hadn’t ever been implemented in the customer’s industry. It was critical that the solution be deployed successfully and within the customer’s tight deadlines.
This was going to involve coordination and cooperation at every level with the customer, the NetApp account team, and NetApp’s business unit and service delivery team. It was obvious that someone would need to take the lead and bring all parties together to work through the various challenges that would come up as the program was rolled out. Key questions needed to be asked, such as: What are the next steps? How should they be implemented? What challenges need to be overcome? What expertise do we need to make this successful? As a SAM, Rick knew all the key stakeholders inside and outside NetApp, understood the technology (both new and existing), and was fully aware of the goals, constraints, and processes on both sides. So, he was ideally placed to step in and help make the deployment successful.
Lastly, another NetApp SAM, Gene, had been alerted that the industry-spanning Log4j vulnerability, a critical security flaw in its framework, had been published and posed a very real security threat to customers. Gene’s customers started communicating with him as soon as this issue had become public knowledge. Their primary request was to understand the potential impact to NetApp® systems and the recommended maintenance schedule for resolving this security vulnerability—and this directive came from top management levels in the customers’ organizations. Gene understood the situation, and he quickly developed customer-specific communication plans. He personally covered these plans with his customers, detailing how he as their SAM would ensure that they would be kept fully informed as NetApp rolled out software patches and mitigation techniques.
As all IT professionals know, every day brings new challenges—some expected, and others a complete surprise. What’s important is that customers have someone on hand and on their side to help them navigate through each of the challenges they face. This is exactly where the SAM comes in.
On any given day, most SAMs work with their customers on routine matters—for example, reviewing open cases, looking out for known risks and issues, helping manage the installed base, checking support entitlements, recommending appropriate software releases, answering questions, and acting as the main postsales contact. However, Sean, Rick, and Gene were all called upon to assist with urgent and unexpected problems that required fast resolution. Although very different, each of the issues required the same approach—a quick grasp of the problem, an excellent working relationship with the customer, a detailed understanding of their estate, open lines of communication with numerous NetApp teams, and the ability to engage the right people and quickly drive a resolution.
Each SAM adjusted to the unique scenario to provide the best customer care and fastest remediation. Sean worked with the Support, Logistics, and Sales teams to restore services quickly and obtain replacement hardware; Rick took the lead in bringing all parties together to identify the various challenges that would be encountered and ensure that the new product was successfully deployed; Gene engaged the Security and Engineering teams to provide answers to all of the customer’s concerns about the vulnerability.
As you can see, the SAMs were instrumental in quickly and efficiently resolving each of the problems, thereby reducing risk and saving the customers a significant amount of time—and, potentially, money. Without the NetApp SAM, each customer in these three scenarios would have had to navigate the problems on their own, trying to identify and coordinate the appropriate pieces in the puzzle and pursuing resolutions by themselves. And this is precisely why customers who have a SAM are more satisfied and get more out of their investment with NetApp.
NetApp SAMs play a crucial role in ensuring that customers receive the highest level of support and assistance. They act as trusted advisors to customers, providing technical expertise, proactive communication, customer advocacy, and other valuable benefits. By taking advantage of SAM services, NetApp customers can maximize the value of their investment, reduce disruptions, streamline complexity, and free up valuable internal resources.
To learn more how the NetApp SAM service can help you with your unique needs, take a look at our new SAM Knowledge Base, visit SAM on NetApp.com, talk to your NetApp representative, or send a question to email@example.com.
This blog was written in collaboration with Gene Holt, NetApp Support Account Manager (SAM).
To learn more how SAM services help the bottom line for NetApp customers, read our other blogs:
Sean Toomey is technical professional with over 25 years experience in IT. As a Senior Support Account Manager with NetApp since 2013, Sean is focused on enterprise environments for U.S. Government customers. Sean is dedicated to helping his customers enjoy a better experience through more proactive management of their growing NetApp environments.