Online advertising agency DoubleClick wanted to improve customer satisfaction but not at budget breaking costs...
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The New York agency's team of 10 quality engineers had been flying to customer sites around the world to diagnose customer network problems with company's software. The bills started to add up. DoubleClick started to look for a cheaper way to deal with the problem, launching a search for a tool that would allow the engineers to non-intrusively monitor the health of its product remotely on customer networks.
In its search for solutions to the problem DoubleClick looked at a number of products and considered creating a batch file in house that would run on customers' networks to find packet loss and ping hardware. Mehdi Daoudi, (pronounced DOW-dee) vice president of quality of service for DoubleClick, said many of the products were good but too intrusive for DoubleClick's needs because they absorbed too much of the customers' computer resources. The home grown batch file solution didn't fly either because Daoudi and his team determined that it was too much work for customers to install and run it on a regular basis.
DoubleClick finally settled for a product from Visualware, a small security and management firm in Turlock, Calif. Daoudi said Visualware's product was a perfect fit because it was non-intrusive and provided timely network health data through customer firewalls. It also solved the problem of DoubleClick quality engineers trying to explain complex network pinging and packet loss discovery procedures to non-technical folks at the customer locations. Now the engineers can diagnose the problem from DoubleClick's headquarters and solve the problem before the customer knows it has happened.
Zeus Kerravala, a senior analyst with The Yankee Group of Cambridge, Mass., said usually customers are wary of third party agents being installed on their systems, but when it has to be done smaller is better.
Kerrvalla said the fact that VisualProfile can operate without customers having to disable their firewall is also impressive.
"I think it is great that they can run it through the customers' firewalls it's a tremendous advantage," added Kerravala.
DoubleClick was also spending lots of cash flying engineers to sites around the world to troubleshoot network problems at customer sites. Daoudi says this was frustrating and inefficient for DoubleClick's quality engineers and customers.
"As you can imagine it was a very daunting task on our end because customer support had to spend a lot of time educating the customers, " said Daoudi.
Daoudi said that an in-house test proved that Visualware's VisualProfile product would provide the network information that DoubleClick was looking for, displayed graphically on a computer monitor. DoubleClick bought it for about $20,000 with licenses for about 250 reporting agents to be installed on its top customers' networks. The company plans on buying licenses for an additional 3,000 agents to cover the rest of its customer base.
One problem that had to be overcome was that initially the VisualProfile product wouldn't work through customer firewalls. Daoudi says that Visualware found a solution that allowed the VisualProfile agents to report network health back to DoubleClick without customers having to disable their firewalls.
"The good thing about Visualware is that they tend to listen and they tend to act very quickly. They came up with a very elegant solution and it's working now," said Daoudi.
The VisualProfile product is installed on a single server at DoubleClick, and the multiple remote agents are installed on customer networks. The agents report back to the server at DoubleClick. Daoudi said that the product was easily installed and configured.
Daoudi customer satisfaction would have suffered tremendously without the tool.
"About two months prior to the decision to purchase VisualProfile my group ran a customer satisfaction (survey) asking them what they thought of the product and would you like it if DoubleClick put little agent on your computer to get the health of your network, and people responded very positively," said Daoudi.
He said DoubleClick hopes to reap a return on its investment through travel cost savings and improved customer satisfaction that will create customer loyalty.
Daoudi said the Visualware implementation gave DoubleClick's customers the idea that they were being well looked after. DoubleClick's customers wanted to focus on running their advertising campaigns and not troubleshooting their networks.
"We used to fly engineers to every site, between a plane ticket, and the time of an engineer, it wasn't scalable. The return on investment was having the engineers focusing on developing products, not on troubleshooting. On a customer support base we had a decrease in the number of calls we had to take," said Daoudi.