The Fine Art of Support Escalations

By Datalink

Support teams are constantly aligning and realigning themselves to escalate more effectively as their offerings evolve.   In today’s world, there are so many ways to access technical support, choosing the best and most effective option can be confusing.   Because of that, customers often default to their local sales or engineering contact for “leverage.” While this can be somewhat effective, it’s not efficient, and if done repetitively, it can actually become counter-productive to getting good support and speedy resolutions.

First, within the industry, many vendors have adopted support infrastructures that incorporate levels of expertise and silos of knowledge.   Second, some have also implemented separate escalation processes and frameworks that drive issues from external statements of customer size and business impact.    Finally, many have partnered via sales channels with resellers and solutions delivery companies that also provide frontline support and have special access into these infrastructures and escalation frameworks.

Below are some quick concepts that every customer should employ to ensure smooth escalation of support issues:

  • Know the external services Web portal for the support team you’re trying to access and change the priority of your case using that tool. Always state the business impact of the issue you are trying to fix, document your requests for escalation, and specifically ask the people you are working with to escalate the priority of the case or go to the next level of engineer.
  • Ask for a duty manager. The universal constant in support  centers are duty managers who cover levels of people and product teams of expertise. Almost all support teams are 24/7. To manage the work properly, duty managers are deployed as a first layer of oversight. Datalink support duty managers can be accessed via request of your support engineer, or by sending an email to
  • Know your reseller support organization and leverage their access to the vendor’s support. If you’re working with Datalink, you will be talking to us as your first line of support. We have duty managers and support services executive oversight and access into our vendor partners’ support centers.  It’s important for us to know the business impact and urgency of your issue so that we can align the proper resources to your case. Our duty managers can drive your case with our vendor partners to resolution.
  • Ask your sales or local field team to specifically reach out to the duty manager for the support team or system you are trying to access. If they tell you that they “know a guy,” chances are that it’s the wrong person, and their breaking of the chain will probably lead to downstream resolution delays and service interruptions that cannot be foreseen from their vantage points.

The key to effective support is that all of the support processes for these relationships be well-defined and tested, and that the people driving them interface with each other daily to drive resolutions.  

There is no doubt that sales teams and field engineering teams know and have access to support. However, they do not work with those teams on a daily basis. They tend to identify a single actor in the hierarchy to lean on, whose duties, influence, and availability may change quite sharply over time. Customers will be more successful when they learn the language of support escalation, and better understand their entry points to these well-defined roles and processes.

Jack Sparks
Director of Customer Support