Welcome to the first in our new series, A Day in the Life. We’ll be talking to a variety of techy Microsofties about what they get up to during the old 9-5. We’d love to hear your suggestions for upcoming interviewees, so please post your suggestions in the comments box below.

We kick off with David Lynch, Senior Support Engineer in the EMEA Global Technical Support Centre UK. David, it’s over to you…(anyone remember Through the Keyhole?)

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I specialise in supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer, or IE, as it’s more commonly referred to. This is my primary support area and although it may sound like a small topic to focus on, it’s really not. IE is actually quite a large area to support because you have to cover every angle. It’s not just knowing about the product’s functionality inside out, it’s about knowing how to deploy it with IEAK, how to manage it with policy and also how to troubleshoot it with the appropriate tools. It requires a rock solid understanding of its architecture – the binaries that make up IE, how it integrates with Windows, how it communicates over TCP/IP to web servers and proxy servers and how they communicate back, and it doesn’t stop there. You need to know how to code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, .net, XML, AJAX, C/C++, provide advice on streamlining performance, debugging hangs and crashes and leaks etc., and of course, know a bit about the opposition! We also have an on-site offering in the service catalogue - an IE8 workshop which we typically deliver in one day, covering the new features in IE8, its settings, management, connections, tips on troubleshooting, ActiveX controls and, if the customer wants, some information about IE9. The workshop is becoming increasingly popular and can be utilised by organisations looking at migrations or ramping up on specific areas.

As well as IE, I cover the Windows Shell and I’ve recently added MSI to my troubleshooting skillset.

Today is a typical Tuesday for me, my busiest day of the week. It starts like any other, checking if any incidents have happened over night that might affect the team, looking through email communication and briefly triaging my cases and checking through my calendar to see what work I have to do today. What makes Tuesday different is that it’s triage day for IE in the Global Technical Support Centre (GTSC), for which I am responsible. I start by compiling a list of Premier and Professional customer support cases that are currently with our frontline engineers in Bangalore before emailing it out to the team. This is followed up with a scheduled conference call between the UK and India teams, addressing each case to make sure it’s on track, to highlight any issues, mark any that are due for escalation to the UK team and make sure both teams are aware of all the current cases. After the meeting, I report back  with a summary of the current actions for these cases which are then logged against them. Typically we would triage 25-35 cases depending on how busy it is. Triage is a very important part of the week – aside from the fact that our customers benefit from having their support cases regularly discussed, the team as a whole has the chance to speak to each other by voice, instead of typing in an IM conversation, so it helps to build those team relations.

Around the triage activities, I need to focus on my own support cases which are all escalations from our front-line team in India or, from other front-line teams around Europe where volumes are particularly high or, from other escalation teams who need collaboration from an IE support specialist. A case load of around 15 is average but when it gets busy, or when colleagues go on holiday, I have gone up to 21-22 cases which can get pretty manic!

At the end of the day, it’s good to do something different. I like going down to the on-site gym to relax my mind and revitalise my body to help keep a balance to the day.

Apart from triage, meetings and case load, on a weekly basis, a typical engineer spends time mentoring the front-line engineers or colleagues in the UK team to help bring them on, keep up to date with what’s going on in the business and around their areas, look for opportunities to further develop their own skills or identify areas where we can help develop others or our products to increase market share. Being able to respond to high priority issues around security, cumulative updates and high severity issues is also required. It’s all very customer focused, there’s rarely any free-time, but always time to develop.

David Lynch
EMEA GTSC UK Core IE Shell Support Engineer
Microsoft Customer Service & Support

Coming next week: Microsoft Technology Centre intern and loveable geek, Jon Lickiss tells us about a typical day in the MTC. Let us know if you have a burning question for Jon – post it in the comments box below.