Though technical issues are touched on here, this isn't a techie thing in the slightest. Rather, I like to pass along praise when people do things right, and this is about some surprisingly great (and I have a feeling, standard) tech support from a company that most people will likely have dealings with. One who doesn't have the reputation for great, warm and fuzzy anything -- Microsoft.
I can't say that they offer this service for all their products -- I'm not saying they don't or do, but that I have no idea -- but the more I deal with Microsoft Exchange, probably the most convoluted product they offer, the more it's clear that bending over backwards to offer great tech support here is the norm.
First, a very brief background. I have a few "ghost" email accounts -- email addresses that get forwarded to my main account. I don't use them often, but I found out last week that a few things being sent to one of them was being blocked as Undeliverable.
After a bit of investigating, the problem turned out to be that when I switched to using Microsoft Exchange several months back, I didn't quite realize how it worked and everything was now being handled through that. Instead of using "mail forwarding" through my provider, I had to instead set up "Aliases" with Exchange.
I took a deep breath. As I wrote a while back when I first made the switch to Exchange, it works wonderfully but setting it up is not for the faint of heart. It's mainly intended for businesses and for IT experts to put into place. Fortunately, as I explained, my experience calling Microsoft Exchange tech support was very good, so I hoped twice would be the charm.
It was. Here's the tale:
I went online, checked my account, and saw what I thought I should do -- I started to make the changes, but on second thought decided I didn’t want to screw things up, so I called Exchange tech support. I’m glad I did, because my assumption was very wrong.
It turns out there were two ways of doing what I wanted. The easy way, if I didn’t care about replying to emails under the name of the Alias. And the more convoluted way, if I wanted to be able to reply to an Alias using that Alias name. (That uses something called "Distribution Groups." I never, ever, never would have figured that out. But then I wouldn't have figured out the "easy" way either. Even though it was easy. Once you knew what to do.)
Anyway, as I said, I called Microsoft Exchange tech support. After answering a few questions with Customer Service, they then transferred me to tech support, and put me on hold. I had a wait of a whopping 45 seconds.
The tech support guy, Ernst, was great. He was knowledgeable, patient, explained things carefully, slowly, in human English, answered questions well and was very comforting. ("Click here...You'll see such-and-such...Click here...You'll see it say...Click there...") And when another totally unrelated email problem cropped up during the call (an oddity of pop-up boxes asking for my password), he used a LogMeIn download to take control of my system and found the problem in about five minutes.
Better still though was afterwards. Rather than asking me to stay on the phone to answer some survey, his real, human supervisor came on to ask questions about the service and wanted to know about the experience and discussed the support call in detail. More impressive, he also said that they’d be sending an email that would include contact information on my tech support guy and for him, if I had any follow-up questions -- for this or any issue. That's always one of the big problems with tech support if there are subsequent questions: not being able to reach the same person who knows about the issue, without having to try to explain it again and what was done. This email did arrive with all the contact info -- not just email contact info, but also a phone number and direct extension for both Ernst and the supervisor. Plus there was even contact info for a “backup” tech person in case these two other people weren’t available.
It was all very impressive. Keep in mind, again, that this was Microsoft. This is not what Microsoft’s cold, corporation reputation is. But it was among the best tech support I’ve gotten -- for anything.
Who knew??! Go figure. Microsoft.
As told the supervisor, this is the same, terrific experience I had when I needed to call trying to set up Exchange. He acknowledged that Exchange is bewildering, that it requires a great deal of intricate knowledge, but that’s why they had to provide such good support.
As it happens, I told this story to a friend who'd had reason to call Microsoft tech support, and he had the same experience. So, it doesn't appear to be a fluke -- two lucky chances. This actually appears to be what Microsoft tech support is for Exchange and their related-Office 365 service. Hat's off to them. As I said, I like to give credit to people and companies when they do something right. In this case, it was surprisingly and impressively right.
Another Exchange issue did crop up later -- not a problem at all, since it's working fine, but an oddity. I wrote back to my new Microsoft contacts, and if there are any difficulties, I'll let you know.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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