Author: Dr. Sonja Mars
At Gurobi, we take great pride in our customer support. We have built a technical support team that assists customers with every step of the process of implementing and using our mathematical optimization solver – from modeling and deployment to tuning and maintenance. Throughout this process, we work together with our customers to ensure that the Gurobi solver is performing at top speed, and that the mathematical optimization application is able to fit and adapt to their business and IT infrastructure.
As Gurobi’s Optimization Support Manager, my role is to make sure that our global team of Support Engineers continuously gives our customers the support they need to succeed at every stage of their implementation journey – so that they can maximize their ROI on our technology, as well as their operational efficiency and overall profitability. At Gurobi, we view support as a core component of our offering (rather than merely an additional feature) and pride ourselves on the quality of our customer support services.
This all sounds great in theory, but how do we actually accomplish this in practice? What exactly does it mean to give first-class customer support for mathematical optimization technologies?
In this blog, I will discuss the four keys to delivering customer support excellence at Gurobi.
Key #1: A Team of PhD-Level Optimization Experts
When it comes to support services, it is essential to ensure that the personnel giving the support have the right knowledge, experience, and expertise – and this is especially the case with support for mathematical optimization technologies.
At Gurobi, we have a support “dream team” of PhD-level optimization experts, who have years and years of experience working with commercial models and are able to field basically any technical question and provide whatever assistance is needed. These experts interact immediately and directly with you as a customer – there are no first-level support representatives who stand between you and these experts.
Successfully developing a mathematical optimization model and deploying a solver requires a range of skill sets in a number of areas – from operations research (OR) to software engineering to data science – and different customers have varying levels of expertise in these areas. If you need help in any particular area or at any phase of the implementation process, our support team has the necessary skills to help you – or can connect you with one of our many consulting partners that can work with you to solve your problem.
For example, some of our customers are data scientists without an OR background, who want to use our solver like a “black box” – and we are happy to help them and explain to them how to get started and build their optimization model.
Whatever your needs are throughout the implementation process and as business conditions change and new versions of our solver are released with new, cutting-edge features, our global support team of PhD-level optimization experts is there for you – to guide you and give you the assistance you need.
Key #2: Rapid Response Times
Across industries, one of the cornerstones of excellent customer support is rapid response times to customer problems and concerns. Nobody likes to waste their precious time and energy waiting to get the assistance that they desperately need.
At Gurobi, we view every customer inquiry or issue as “important” and “urgent,” and aim to address these as quickly as possible. Typically, we are able to respond to customer requests in a matter of hours. One of the reasons that we are able to achieve these rapid response times this is that our support team is solely focused on providing support (and not on other business functions such as sales or product development).
Of course, we do prioritize requests based on the nature of the issue. “Blocking production” issues (when the system is not functioning properly) are the highest priority, followed by other questions and concerns related to performance tuning, installation, and other matters.
No matter what your issue is, our support team endeavors to respond in the most efficient manner possible.
Key #3: Close Collaboration Between the Support and Product Development Teams
In many IT companies, the support and product development teams operate in their individual silos and rarely communicate and collaborate.
At Gurobi, however, our support team works hand-in-hand with our product development team – and this close collaboration delivers tremendous benefits for our customers.
Our product development team (which is primarily focused, of course, on developing our products: the Gurobi Optimizer, Gurobi Compute Server, and Gurobi Cloud) actually looks at each and every optimization support ticket. Why do they do this? There are two reasons:
1) There may be an issue that needs to be escalated to the development team so that they can fix it immediately.
2) There may be something the development can learn from our customer requests that helps them to improve our products in the future. Indeed, every support request is – in essence – a piece of feedback from our customers, which used by our development team to help drive the continuous enhancement of our products.
It should also be added that our support team have contributed to the development of key product features – so they possess a deep understanding of our products.
The symbiotic relationship between our support and development teams enables superior service for our customers and ongoing improvement of our products.
Key #4: A Multi-Channel Support Approach
To provide world-class customer support, a company needs not only the right people, but also the right support systems and resources.
At Gurobi, we have put in place a robust, multi-channel support infrastructure – which facilitates the delivery of smooth and seamless support services to our customers.
Perhaps the most critical support channel is our Support Portal, where customers submit their requests. Having one integrated system that processes and prioritizes all our support tickets enables the support team to respond more rapidly and effectively to customer issues.
Another key support channel is our Knowledge Base, which is an extensive library of FAQs and articles (which are all written by our team of optimization experts) that will help you use Gurobi. Whenever a user submits a support request, they are directed to relevant articles in the Knowledge Base – which very well may be able to quickly provide an answer to their question or a resolution to their issue.
Actually, we are constantly monitoring the questions and issues that customers report via the Support Portal, and using those analytics to help determine the topics of the articles in the Knowledge Base.
Lastly, we have a Community – a forum in which users can pose and answer questions and discuss mathematical optimization-related topics. Our support team moderates the forum and answers the majority of the questions, but the Community serves as a space in which users can discuss and share their experiences with each other.
Putting in place these three main support channels – the Support Portal, Knowledge Base, and Community – has enabled us to elevate the quality of our support services to the highest levels.
Through this multi-channel support approach, we can provide whatever type of support you are looking for. We offer self-serve support through our growing Knowledge Base, peer support via our Community, a sophisticated ticketing system, and, of course, we are always available for an old-fashioned phone call when that’s most effective.
Indeed, our multi-channel support approach along with the other three items that I highlighted above are the keys to delivering world-class support for our customers, and this support plays a vital role in ensuring the success of their mathematical optimization solver implementations.