Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to talk with different SparkPost customers about how they’re using email in their business. It’s been an invaluable way for me to understand how developers at companies of all sizes see email, the kinds of technical and business challenges they face, and how they use SparkPost to solve them.
Getting insight into needs like these is critical for any product marketer. But these customer conversations also have reaffirmed how critical the actual experience of using a service like ours is to the productivity and long-term success of our customers. That’s one reason why I’ve written before about “onboarding,” the first steps of getting started with a service like ours.
At SparkPost, onboarding involves several features and resources to ensure a successful start for all of our users. For our enterprise customers, the experience also includes the expert support of our Technical Account Managers (TAM). In fact, the “white glove service” our Technical Account Managers deliver is one of the things I’ve consistently heard from our larger customers has helped them to succeed. It’s a real differentiator from other email delivery services they considered. That’s why I wanted to share a little bit about how our technical account management team works to ensure a successful customer experience.
What Is a Technical Account Manager (TAM)?
SparkPost’s Technical Account Managers are highly experienced advocates and resources dedicated to enterprise customers. They know the SparkPost platform inside and out—and they are industry experts who understand how critical email can be. This unique combination of technical and strategic experience ensures a successful start as well as ongoing business success and technical best practices.
The White Glove Experience
Technical Account Managers help enterprises make the most of SparkPost through a four-stage process: discovery, implementation, go-live, and ongoing support.
In discovery, the TAM works with a customer to lay the groundwork for the highest performance of message streams and to minimize the risk of disruptions during migration. During this period, a TAM will work with a customer team to identify key message streams and functional requirements, provide strategy and best practices, and develop a migration plan. The migration plan creates the footing for a positive sending reputation, a key element to the success of any mailer.
Implementation occurs once these key requirements have been identified and addressed. The TAM will provision and configure the production environment, begin important deliverability activities such as DNS implementation and IP address warm-up, provide technical resources for integration, and establish a deployment schedule and plan. TAMs work closely with several teams to ensure cross-functional compliance to the plan established during discovery while monitoring the IP ramp up to protect and grow the necessary IP reputation required to succeed.
When it is time to make the “go-live” switch to production, the TAM team will be on stand-by and ready to address any key customer support issues. With careful monitoring of system and message performance, message streams will be phased into production on the new environment until the migration is complete.
Technical Account Managers also provide ongoing support after production has gone live. The TAM will continue to work with customers to optimize performance and migrate additional message streams as required. TAMs will also monitor deliverability and provide regular performance and roadmap reviews. TAMs give proactive support helping senders understand the shifting messaging landscape. This includes regulatory changes, policy and privacy, deliverability, ISP updates and evolving technical and messaging security requirements.
I’ll admit I’m a little biased. But I’ve got to say that I’m consistently amazed by my colleagues on our technical account management team, and what they deliver to help our customers succeed. And I personally have never met anyone who understands email—and how to help businesses really succeed with SparkPost—better. As a product marketer, I’m so glad to have them helping deliver the best customer experience possible.
P.S. If the role of our technical account managers in delivering white glove service sounds like something you need, it’s easy to learn more about services for enterprise senders.
If you’d like to read more about the importance of customer experience, check out these other posts:
Running a professional services organization is a hectic, ever changing, and constantly challenging job, but every morning I look forward to whatever new adventures the day is going to bring. My name is Tom Mairs and I direct the activities of the Global Professional Services team at Message Systems. In this short post I want to give you a glimpse into our world and what it means to us to provide professional services.
I am extremely blessed to work with some of the most talented and creative people in the software industry, which is a good thing because this job can certainly keep you on your toes. Our brilliant team of core development engineers builds world-class, industry-leading software, and one of the great things about the design of the Message Systems Momentum platform is its highly extensible nature. Even though you could simply install and run our software “out of the box,” we empower and encourage customers to build onto it with their own extensions and custom modifications. This, however, can be a challenge for some customers who don’t have the in-house resources to take advantage of the platform’s powerful capabilities. That is where our Professional Services team comes in.
One of the most common functions we carry out is to plan and deliver the core Momentum implementation. In other words we “install” it for you, but implementation is really so much more. Part of our implementation service is helping to calculate resources, define a hardware order and plan a maintenance schedule – all those things you don’t really think about when you are focusing on purchasing the software. In large implementations this may involve a detailed plan to roll out a staged multi-site data center environment – few companies have that talent in-house, so we can provide that assistance directly.
Another common service we provide is custom policy scripting. The Momentum platform is a very powerful piece of software, with an integrated policy engine, that gives you the flexibility to script complex rules defining how and when to deliver a message based on any number of events, time scenarios or user actions. You could read the support documentation and write new scripts yourself, yet we have many pages of documented implementation guidance and sample scripts that can help you quickly roll out any number of sophisticated automated messaging processes. Many customers also employ our professional services offerings to diagnose their particular business processes, map out necessary messaging requirements, and write policy scripts for them. Engaging our professional services team will always result in faster and more complete policy development that avoids common errors.
Sometimes the service we provide is more about coordinating other partners to ensure a complete solution. Deliverability management, reputation alignment, and ISP relationship management are not our specialty, but our friends over at Return Path have that completely covered with a professional team of their own. Our global mobility partner mBlox can help you connect your Message Systems platform to mobile devices anywhere on the planet. Web site and application development can be handled through a partner as well. Rackspace would be happy to host your Message Systems platform on one of our pre-defined server packages. Additionally, we have a variety of partners who can help with complex data management, and if you need skilled staff to run your mail operations, we can help there too.
Bringing these partners all together for you into one complete solution is one of the things that sets Message Systems apart from other messaging platform developers. The last thing you want to do after a software purchase is deal with five or six third-party vendors to integrate the various elements in your messaging infrastructure. Herding those cats is a full-time job and I should know – I run the team that does it for you.
Downloading and installing the software is one thing. Building an effective and productive solution is something much bigger. You can do it all yourself, or you can enlist a professional services team that has worked on some of the biggest and most complex messaging environments in the world. It is really your choice, but we are here and at your service.
For more information, contact your Message Systems account executive or myself directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more of Tom Mairs’ insights, download the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook for real life examples of how brands are capitalizing on transactional email to drive more revenue.