For any product, customer support will be considered as the face of the product and company. They deal with the customers and try to solve the problems which customers are facing. As a test and product support engineer of BizTalk360, I would like to share some of my experiences.
Let’s start with a support ticket which I handled and learnt from. A year back we received a support ticket from one of our customers. They were trying to renew their BizTalk360 license, for which they had to send their environment details to issue new license key (for 7.10 version). It’s a very simple process, the customer needs to select the environment and Generate License code using the Generate License Request button. But after selecting the environment, the ‘Generate Request’ button was not enabled. We found that the customer was missing some steps in between the process because the page was not used frequently by customers and at last we helped him to generate new keys after which they upgraded to the latest version (8.0).
Issue faced by the customer after upgrade
After the upgrade to the latest version, customers must use the newly provided License keys to activate the environment so that they will be able to use the product. But unfortunately, this customer was stuck in the Settings page, it was loading for hours and no result. This case was very strange to us because we didn’t face the same problem anywhere in our testing although our testing team put lots of efforts in testing migrations. So, we planned to help them immediately by a web meeting, even though it was a Non-production environment.
Once after upgrading to the 8.0 version, we observed that the database table “b360_admin_BizTalkEnvironment” was empty and hence the environment details were not reflected in the BizTalk360 application UI, without which they cannot move forward in the application.
Our foremost task was to make the application up and running so that the customer can explore the new features available. We asked the customer to confirm if they had by any chance deleted/modified the table but he was not sure about it. But we were sure that without any manual changes those data will not get truncated.
Approaching the case with the different plans
There were two options available to resolve the case. Plan A was to restore the database and then move on with the upgrade. Plan B was to proceed with the fresh installation, in case if no backup is available. We suggested plan A first, to restore the database if they have taken any backup before the upgrade. If so, we can restore the database and then update to the latest one, so that we can find out the root cause of the problem. But unfortunately, they did not have any backup before the upgrade process and the one they had was very old (taken early in 2014 exactly 3 years old), but they had taken the whole machine backup. With the least hope we requested to restore if possible and closed the call.
What happened during the web meeting?
The next day we received a mail that they were not able to restore the whole server as it contained lot of data and conveyed that they got a backup of BizTalk360 database. So, we thought to get into the call once again with plan A, i.e. to restore the database. We asked them to restore before the call. During the 2nd call we understood that the customer was very frustrated because of the launching issue and they didn’t restore it. Then we came to know that the database backup was the very old one. We conveyed to the customer that the backup will not be useful as it was very old. By this time, the customer got more frustrated as it was very hard to find and get database backup. We have no other go to, so we decided to go with the very old database restore, which took 2:00 hours of time to restore after we found that the database belonged to BizTalk360 7.0.
It took 2:00 hours of time to restore the backup of Database without my involvement and I was there in the call. 🙁
Finally, with the restoration of the database backup, we were now ready to set the application up and running with the following steps:
- We uninstalled the current version and we installed the version 7.0 with the temporary Database name
- Deleted the newly created database
- Renamed the old one with the new name so that UI will be linked to the old database.
- It helped us to check if BizTalk360 was working properly with that and we found that the environment details were also available
- Followed by 7.0 we installed 7.2, 7.8 and 8.0 for the proper upgrade and we resolved the problem.
But, the call took 3 hours and 9 minutes exactly, involving one of our Product Leads.
Do’s and Don’ts in Support Call Handling
I was very proud for resolving the case and satisfying the customer who was frustrated due to the long call, and the customer was happy too! Then I came to know what I should and shouldn’t have done in the call.
- If something needs to be done on customer side, we should give them time to do what they want and should request to complete it – Restoring the database took 2:00 hours of time without my involvement while I was there in the call
- If anything is not really important and there is less chance to work, we should say directly to the customer – Very old database backup
- If we are not confident about some suggestions, we should not take the risk. Without knowing which version the old database supports, I restored the old database. At that time, if it did not match with the UI and had some issues, the customer would have got even more frustrated
- Should always approach the best way – Reinstalling the current version.
- Should convey the best approach to the customer even though the customer becomes frustrated.
We have taken these points seriously from that day and we do some basic homework before the call, like what need to be discussed and what all the information we need from the customer side. Now this makes our troubleshooting during the web meeting very short and edge, so that saves both customer’s and our time.