When the required DNS records and inbound/outbound mail isn’t configured correctly our internal troubleshooting tools fail and staff has no way to replicate or diagnose further issues — they are prohibited from guessing or offering informal suggestions as that can cause even bigger issues and cause a liability issue for everyone involved. You’ll get the same answer in the support portal, in the support web chat, and on the phone.
But Vlad!!! What if the client can’t/won’t change their DNS or deploy the service correctly?
I can respect that there is always a business case requirement for doing things the wrong way, and I’ve had plenty of arguments with clients that don’t know how ExchangeDefender relies on all these systems to deliver the best possible protection and functionality. I understand. It might even work!
Just please don’t ask us for help with it when it doesn’t work. Our staff is prohibited from guessing and making the problem even worse. It’s not a BOFH issue, it’s a legal liability issue.
One of the first announcements of 2020, covered during our most recent webinar , concerned support and our overall improvement of the platform that now serves a far wider audience than ever before.
We’re often asked to work with third parties, contracted or part time IT staff, client vendors, and everyone else that touches the email ecosystem.
Since we’re closer to our client’s email than even their own Outlook, we can help solve problems before anyone is even aware of them. Sometimes that requires us to work with 3rd parties and now we’re making that super easy, too. Just point your browser to:
Traditionally we’ve worked only with the IT Professionals part of the world (MSP, VAR, CIO) but as more business processes enter the world of email and DNS, we’re often working with external parties who need help with our platform but don’t necessarily work for an IT management company nor for our client. We’re still here to help, and we start through the help site.
What sort of issues do we expect to handle through this?
Compliance requests. RBL/SPAM delisting/whitelisting requests. Misc problems with delivery or configuration. CRM or platform integration issues. Development automation. IoT restrictions and alert delivery. Outlook amnesia. If it relies on ExchangeDefender, we’ll take a look at it. Just go to /help and we’ll find someone that can help.
P.S. This is just one of the many enhancements you’ll be seeing this year. We’re going to make significant headway in self-management this year and our support will be on par with that.
As promised in the last webinar, we’re moving as aggressively as possible to make sure our partners have as flexible of a tool as we can imagine to communicate with clients in the event of an IT catastrophe. Or, in our case, to further increase transparency and collaboration with all our ExchangeDefender service providers so you can get better insight into our network and when we’re dealing with a lot. That said, I believe that the product/service is now production ready and we’ve already tied it up in our ExchangeDefender Enterprise product so you’ll know as we know. 🙂
Remember, ExchangeDefender’s AnythingDown.com , or https://yourserviceproviderid.xdnoc.com – is your own brandable, real-time alert system that covers ExchangeDefender managed resources as well as your own custom defined events.
Let’s go on a little tour, shall we?
First, here is the nearly-final look of the site. It will of course feature your logo, your contact information, and your own services but you can see that there is now a sign in section as well as nested posts – so when something is updated it’s done so in-line and can be read normally (as opposed to just seeing the latest update and not knowing what it’s about at all).
Sign in screen is for you, just provide your service provider ID and password and you’re in your own portal.
As for your users that want real-time updates via email or RSS/blog, we have a signup page (I know, I know, it’s idiotic but GDPR and EU have put this obstacle in place where we need contracts and disclosures about signing up for an email list).
Once you’ve signed in as the service provider, you will have access to manage and create new service advisories. Just click on the Add New button in the upper right corner. If you’re managing a larger NOC and have a ton of fires going on (you’re among friends, #respect) you can also search current open advisories and make sure you update the correct one.
New advisory posting is pretty flexible and gives you actually quite a bit of power to include images, links, and other multimedia. As network geeks we’re used to plain text, ASCII, 80 columns across black on white kind of alerts but in the 21st century with lots of things going on sometimes you can throw out a quick alert with a screenshot of what’s going on rather than trying to document every single detail (for example, a cloud of daily network/ISP outages as an explanation why things are moving slow or getting delayed or buffered)
And of course, you can update every service advisory.
As mentioned last month, ExchangeDefender XDNOC </a> service is all about helping us work better with the people that pay us to help protect their networks and users. I have some rather personal thoughts on that subject, which will be a matter of another post. However, when you design software and when you serve as the gatekeeper, your primary responsibility to the people you’re protecting and waking up to keep safe every day is not just to keep things going but also to keep everyone aware of what is going on to improve things – because hackers don’t take days off.
When things malfunction at other companies, they blame vendors and equipment. When things malfunction at ExchangeDefender, we build products and services so we never have to deal with the problem in the first place. As a result of a DDoS attack last month, I am happy to introduce you to our new service that will improve one area in which we undoubtedly suck the most: communication.
Say hello to AnythingDown.com:
It’s an offsite NOC alert site that’s branded for you.
At ExchangeDefender we do a pretty amazing job communicating and working with our partners, it’s actually our #1 selling point, that you can come to our offices and data centers, you can work with our team and get things done. But when something breaks, that same business friendliness and accessibility is an achilles heel – clients swamp the phones demanding to be briefed on every detail, “Friends of Vlad” call every staff cell phone they can find, the staff that is there to help/coordinate/assist in technical work cannot efficiently correspond and inform every user particularly when things go down and everything isn’t working as it should.
This is where ExchangeDefender XDNOC (aka “AnythingDown.com”) helps.
It’s off site. Doesn’t rely on our networks at all.
It’s on it’s own name space. Not dependent on our DNS/registrars.
It’s branded. Your name, your image, your message.
That last bit is pretty important – we realize that our larger clients have many employees that have never heard of ExchangeDefender, ditto for our partners that don’t want to reveal ExchangeDefender is behind their branded email offering.
Not to worry, your site is already branded and you have your own Service Provider XDNOC: https://<yourExchangeDefenderSPId>.xdnoc.com
It’s yours, it’s yours for free, and we’re just getting started. For the next week or two, the site will host ExchangeDefender content only as we add in the mechanism for RSS subscriptions, linking, SMS/txt alerts, and email notifications.
But this is just the beginning. As an ExchangeDefender subscriber you will have access to this site to tweak it as necessary and to add your own NOC alerts. That’s right, we’re not just building this for ourselves, we see it as a role of central accountability for everyone that relies on our services and all the services you use to deliver a solution. We all want to keep the client happy and informed and this will help out a lot towards that goal.
Our expectation is also to have our proprietary monitoring and alert feeds published on AnythingDown.com going forward so you can see or anticipate the issues that our infrastructure is seeing even before there are tickets or human confirmation of the problems. For many that will be way, way, way too much data but we feel it’s better to present it and get more eyes on it than hide it and hope it’s handled through automation or our staff activity.
In closing, I hope this helps. I know outages and service interruptions or performance issues or networking issues all suck, nobody wants them. They come with the territory and everyone knows it – so it’s not about technology malfunctions, it’s about your communication about the IT work that is done to make it as flawless as possible. We thank you for your business and for your continued support of ExchangeDefender that makes stuff like this possible.
We are currently experiencing a large scale DDoS attack on our network specifically our DNS servers.
Our team is working diligently to correct the issue, please stand by for more information – or give us a call (877-546-0316) if you need any assistance!
We will make sure to keep you updated via the ExchangeDefender blog, our facebook (@exchangedefender), and within the portal as access gets restored.
Thank you for your patience.
Partner to Retail Transfers
After nearly 21 years in business, we have seen just about everything, from partners dying to companies disappearing overnight. More often than not, they leave businesses they served stranded and ExchangeDefender has to pick up the pieces. As each case is different, we’ve always handled every issue delicately with great care from a dedicated employee at ExchangeDefender to handle the issue.
While that sounds nice on the surface, it’s actually a horrific mess with a point person playing coordinator, negotiator, project manager, liason, unofficial legal advisor and more often than not wasting more time than neccessary.
As a result, there is now a 3 month initiative at ExchangeDefender to streamline and automate most of our processes that involve external parties. The honor of the first such automated process is the “Transfer of Services”:
Transfer of Service
ExchangeDefender is exclusively sold through our IT Solution Partners. However, when one partner disappears (death, bankruptcy, laziness, poor customer service) we do not have the means to refer them to a new partner. Often, even if we can find someone local, partner may not have an incentive or business case to sell them ExchangeDefender if the client will not sign up for other support services that are required by our partners to deliver XD. Sometimes, clients get bought/sold, hire their own IT staff, or move to a new provider and want to keep ExchangeDefender. All of these scenarios create a massive mess for ExchangeDefender, for the client, and ultimately for the partner.
The site is designed to create a process-oriented survey that ties in all the parties involved in service delivery – the client requesting the transfer, the existing partner, and if applicable the new IT Solution Provider. This way we have the contact information about everyone, we have set milestones in the process, we have everyone moving along the project and we have deadlines so nobody is left stuck or forgotten. The same ExchangeDefender SLA for support applies to the transfer process but it makes ExchangeDefender handle it.
That is the key part and perhaps the most valuable one for our existing partners that may be worried about account transfers. From our experience, when a client decides they want to leave the service (be it ours, or our partners) there is little that will stand in their way of either moving to another ExchangeDefender partner or another service. This can be painful, awkward, and at times emotional as a loss of business can be stressful. This is where ExchangeDefender can help as well – instead of having to deal with asset control, configuration, transferring credentials and doing support and the work of the new IT Service Provider, our partner can just sign a waiver and from that point on anything regarding the old client and ExchangeDefender will be handled by our team. This way the current partner that is losing the service isn’t stuck with an uncomfortable process of dealing with a client that fired them or training their competitor how to manage the service – it’s simply all on us.
We had to do something. All our future transfers will happen through the “Partner To Retail” web site at https://exchangedefender.com/transfer
Our mantra remains the same, we are still very much a partner-channel based organization. These process automation projects are meant to give our partners and clients a more predictable, measurable, and accountable system backed by an SLA rather than a single point person. If there are processes that you’ve found frustrating, unpredictable, difficult, or frustrating please let us know by contacting your account manager and we’ll put some priority on those. Otherwise, we look forward to serving you better.
About the PIN requests
Several years ago we introduced the ExchangeDefender Phone PIN support to enable our clients and partners to obtain full support over the phone as if they were in our support portal. Being able to talk to someone that can directly make any change you need to make on the go is incredibly valuable for on-the-go business manager that is typical in SMB.
Our implementation left a lot to be desired. We put the PIN in the area where few people looked. We had no system to quickly retrieve your PIN. Some of our support techs took advantage of the system to avoid helping clients. All these issues have been addressed so we wanted to go over our phone support process again.
Our Support Process
We have a typical 3 tier support system – people on the phones (Level 1), people in the support portal (Level 2), and people managing network services and software that approve overrides and make changes manually (Level 3).
When you call 877-546-0316, you will always be speaking to a Level 1 person. Their job is to be friendly and help you figure out how to get things done. In general, they will walk you through the portal, provide our manuals and walk through guides, open a ticket on your behalf, and sometimes even provide additional information about services. Their goal is to eliminate the clutter, the transfers, the “not my department, not my job” you often get when you call a company for help.
If you call our support and are active, in good standing (no late or past due invoices), with proper credentials – our team will greet you with “Thank you for calling ExchangeDefender, whom do I have the pleasure of speaking” and will try to locate your profile and your PIN. From there, we’ll take good care of you. If you don’t know your pin, or if we cannot locate you in the portal, our support will still provide basic public information about our services but is prohibited from discussing pricing, settings, passwords, company data and so on. This is for your security and protection – we’ve all experienced identity theft, people pretending to be someone else, people that have been terminated looking to sabotage their employer, etc – the PIN removes that from being an issue.
What requires a PIN?
Anything that is not public or available on our web site will require you to provide an email address and a PIN. Things that don’t require a PIN are basic answers about how our products work, where to find documentation, if there are any issues with services at the moment, how to become a partner, marketing collateral requests, etc.
Everything else that is account-confidential will require a PIN, for example:
– Getting a copy of the invoice, pricing information
– Account modification, service change, settings change
– Opening a new support ticket on your behalf
– Adding a new service or subscription
– Modifying service settings (passwords, IP addresses, credentials)
There are only two things that our support on the phone will not do regardless of whether you know your PIN or not: add a new contact to the support portal and delete any service/subscription. For legal, compliance, and past experience reasons that is a red line we cannot cross.
OK so how do I get my PIN?
You can find it in your Contact information at https://support.ownwebnow.com
If you don’t know your PIN or support password, you can request a new PIN at https://exchangedefender.com/pin
If you don’t have a contact in our portal at all, you will be provided with a PDF to provide to whoever manages the ExchangeDefender relationship in your organization.
We hope that as we introduce chat and more phone support you can still get everything you want done much faster and more efficiently – but most of all: securely.
Not growing as fast as you’d like, or spending too much time on email/client support? Hear our CEO’s thoughts on what is fueling our growth and how ESS is already playing a huge part in growth of managed services across our client base.