Day in the Life of a SparkPost Technical Account Manager

Norm DeValliere
Aug. 22, 2016 by Norm DeValliere

technical account manager using phone, email, and computer

What a typical day looks like for a SparkPost Technical Account Manager

Technical Account Managers (TAMs) mean different things to different businesses. People often think they’re just technical support, but at SparkPost they are much more than that. To get a better understanding of what I do, here’s a typical day in my life as a SparkPost TAM.

My morning starts early, by choice, with a bike ride down to the Caltrain station. The train ride to the office is the perfect chance to check in with customers and colleagues via email, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Slack. If it works, I am all for it. Talking on the phone is great – just not on the Caltrain!

For one customer in Berlin, my morning commute is perfect for making sure he gets my message before he goes home for the day. As for my East Coast colleagues, it is a good time to chat about anything we are working on together.

The Caltrain commute is also a good time to write. This morning, I’m writing the outline for a short training session that I plan to present to my fellow TAMs later on.

Once my train arrives at the 4th and King station (near the ballpark), I bike from the train station to our Downtown San Francisco office. Then I park my bike in the basement, and walk a short block to have a conversation with my own “technical account manager” – one of the baristas at Philz coffee. I’m only half joking; their focus on service – and getting things right – is very SparkPost-like, though. Try the Tesora blend when you get a chance.

In the office, my first tasks vary. Today, I have a conference call with a customer to discuss what needs to be in place before he can start sending email for an additional business unit. Two follow-up emails later and the plan is in place.

I spend the rest of the morning at my desk, on the “South Side” of the office, with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. The row of desks I’m in hosts three TAMs, including me, and a large part of the community and marketing teams.

My immediate neighbors are Grace and Jennifer from the marketing team. They use social media to share information about our company. They also respond to customers and community members with questions on Facebook and Twitter. I pitch in with helpful advice when I can. If I can’t be helpful, I try to be witty or point them to someone else who knows the answer.

Next in my to-do list, a coding problem, creating an example template for a customer. I use the substitution features in the SparkPost API to display a variable number of rows and columns for retail products. Afterwards, a sleuthing project, using command line tools like grep and awk. A customer was getting hard bounces from one domain, but the addresses were known to be valid. I searched the logs for the delivery attempts, to see which server was saying “that mailbox doesn’t exist.” All were from one IP. I used a manual SMTP connection (telnet still has its uses) to confirm that it was rejecting the known-good addresses. Turns out, the domain has a lame MX record, pointing to a server that doesn’t actually service that domain at all. I tell my customer that the owner of the domain should update their DNS. That was a fun one!

My afternoon starts with a lunch meeting. My customer comes to our office, where we meet the team from our partner Iterable. They demonstrate their application, and we discuss how it can meet the customer’s needs. Obviously a winning solution. Definitely an upbeat way to start the afternoon!

Then I go on another Philz run, this time with Eryck, a support engineer from the UK. He’s spending the week in SF to work side by side with the SparkPost support team. We take the opportunity to discuss support, gaming (no we weren’t playing Pokemon Go), and get some exercise. Back at the office, he teaches me a few things about monitoring Momentum, our underlying SMTP server platform.

Late afternoon is a good time to concentrate on troubleshooting, writing knowledge base articles, or anything else that benefits from a stretch of less interrupted time. I spend an hour or so reworking some test data I’m using, while keeping an eye on the inbox for any new questions.

The day draws to a close, I make my plans for the next day, then pack up for the train. The evening commute is a good opportunity to write, read, or catch up on various Slack channel conversations. We have a slack team just for community support, where any SparkPost community member can ask questions or share advice. I can usually answer a question or two during my ride home.

If you have any questions for me about my role as a TAM, find me on Twitter.

–Norm

For more insight into our TAM services, check out this post.

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