iDirect Government’s new Technical Assistance Center (TAC) manager, Jeremy Jones, came to our family in February 2019 as a Professional Services Engineer (PSE).
A few months later his hard work, skillset and dedication to the mission paid off when he was promoted to TAC manager.
Since then, Jones has made some improvements not only to how the TAC operates, but also the experience our customers will have when visiting our TAC website.
We sat down with Jones to get the skinny on his methodology and what he sees in the TAC’s future.
What did you do before joining our team in the TAC?
In 1999 I enlisted in the U.S. Army and was immediately assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), and from there I was assigned to the 112th signal battalion. I started working with cutting-edge technology from the beginning in networking, SATCOM, and phone switching. That’s how I gained iDirect Government (iDirectGov) experience; my unit was one of the first to get the iDirectGov modems.
After my experience with the Army, I worked as a lead instructor for SOCOM teaching advanced networking and SATCOM. I then moved over to SPAWAR as a technical lead and project manager for various portfolio projects for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Navy, and Marine Corps.
What changes have you implemented since becoming manager?
Initially I came to the TAC and worked as a PSE for two months. When the management position opened, I applied, leveraging my previous technical and programmatic experience within Department of Defense (DoD) infrastructure. I’ve been managing projects for the last decade in a technical lead position with SPAWAR, so managing TAC was a natural fit for me. My time in the TAC as a PSE was short, but it was good for me to see how things worked from the ground level as new guy, learning what it takes to come on board and learn the tempo of the TAC. That experience has been very beneficial as a manager.
The biggest change I’m making is in the process area. While we have a great foundation, I’m really trying to refine the processes we already have and find ways to use them more efficiently. That will curb our resolution time, put procedures in place that give the TAC the answers they need faster, and the ability to open and close customer tickets as efficiently as possible. We have recently refreshed return material authorization (RMA) procedures and license request procedures; now we’re starting to look at the way we document our lessons learned so we can better take advantage of them when needed.
What is your goal for the year?
Over the next couple of years I’d like to improve on some of the existing aspects we have in the TAC to the benefit of other departments while also improving the TAC customer response time. In my opinion, the TAC is the eyes and ears of the company in a lot of ways. We are typically the first to hear of customer issues and concerns, and relaying that information to other departments is critical to customer relations.
Take JIRA, for example. We use JIRA to input ticket information, process through RMAs, troubleshooting, and license requests. What we want to do now is take it to the next step and find better ways to automate lessons learned from customer interactions and seamlessly pass this critical information on to the product life management (PLM) and engineering teams to help create a better product.
Another long-term goal I have is to expand the TAC and our customer touch points. We want the customer to have improved access and visibility into what products they have and what tickets or RMAs they have open and their respective status. We understand this is a big request from our customers, and we want to accommodate this in the best way we can.
Why did iDirectGov decide to upgrade the TAC site?
The biggest push to upgrade the TAC site was the old one had reached its capability threshold. We also want to expand our capabilities, so it just seemed like an ideal time for an upgrade. The old TAC site was designed and created with a vision that lasted a very long time, but we started to see a lot of inefficiencies. So it was determined to move to a new and improved site that would allow us to meet our current needs while having the ability to grow into what we have envisioned for the future.
The site itself needed a functional update as well. The search function on the old site wasn’t great – anyone who tried to use it knows the pain of finding a specific document. We heard this complaint loud and clear from our customers, and we wanted to make sure with the new site this was addressed and improved upon. We want to be a one-stop shop where a customer can come to the site, search specifically for their hardware or software, and all the relevant documentation shows up in a way that’s easy to find and broken out so it’s not one giant wall of PDFs. We wanted to add more structure and sensibility to the search feature so the customer can find what they need right away.
One feature customers will notice and appreciate is the favorites function. This feature allows them to curate and personalize their specific flavor of iDirect environment. What we want to see is a customer coming to the site, finding documentation he or she uses frequently, and saving it as a favorite so when he or she comes back, those documents no longer have to be searched for because they’ll all be saved in one location.
I think everyone is used to curating their own experience with modern technology. Hopefully people will start doing that with the new site, too, so they can easily find a document themselves without needing to open a ticket with the TAC. A great question that’s asked almost daily is how to recover a remote. There’s a very simple answer, and the document is efficient to solve it. Without the ability to have it on hand, though, it’s always a question. The new website will hopefully take that away. The first time customers visit the new site, they can find the document, favorite it, and easily find it every time they log in. That will be a huge advantage to the new website over the old one.
What new features will customers notice?
Aside from the improved look and feel, I think the big thing the customer will notice is the improved search function and how we’ve moved to a dropdown list so they can immediately filter what they’re looking for. Customers may not know exactly what they need, but they know the hardware or software they’re working with.
At the same time it will be the biggest learning curve; you have to understand what the thought process is behind it. Just like all new things it will take some time to get used to the site and all its nuances, but once the customer gets comfortable with the new site I think they will truly find it a better experience.
We have worked a very long time on the new TAC website, and it’s something we’re proud of. We hope that customers are just as excited about its launch as we are, and if there are any questions, you know where to reach us!