The Pall Equipment Support Hotline: ‘How can we help you?’
June 3, 2022
My name’s Bradley Phillips. I’m based in Indiana but wherever you are in the world, I can help you. We all can. As a Technical Agent I am part of a team that has a diverse skillset. We are here to solve technical issues and smooth out those day-to-day niggles that are just part of running both complex and simple biotech equipment. We are closely tied with our Field Service Engineers (FSE) and Product Support Engineers (PSE). This is great because it means that we can offer the depth of knowledge needed to resolve issues quickly. Our statistics show that around 70% of problems are fixed over the phone, so it’s well worth giving us a call! Feel free to email too.
About 50% of the calls and emails we receive are direct from external customers. The other half are from our Field Service Engineers gathering information to aid an enquiry or on-site call-out. Either way they all have the same goal – resolution. The aim is to resolve all these calls within 24 hours. With the depth of team we have, this is realistic. In fact, the majority of calls are resolved within two hours.
Easy wins are requests for documentation relating to equipment, replacing out-dated manuals, or providing information on how a component or instrument works. These can be addressed quickly but more complex issues will take a little longer. If we don’t know from literature or our own personal knowledge, we reach out to a PSE.
Typical calls are for:
• Palltronic® Flowstar IV and V integrity test instruments
• Bioreactors such as iCELLis® 500 or iCELLis® Nano
• Mixers (LevMixer, Magnetic Mixers, and systems)
• Allegro™ STR Single-Use Stirred Tank Bioreactors
However, the hotline is for any Pall equipment, no matter the size or complexity. The team aims to provide an answer as soon as possible and triage every call or email with that in mind. The way I approach some of the more complex calls is to look at the error, identify it, ask myself if there is any action that can be taken over the phone, if not, I need to send an FSE into the field.
Team diversity and training
My background was in field service coordination, so I have often been in the middle between the support hotline and FSEs. I guess I am kind of the tip of the spear for the customers, the first action that coordinates what happens next and brings the right people, experience, or information to the table. This is what we all are as Equipment Support Agents.
I enjoy the relationships I have built up with customers. Sometimes I see the number and know who it is. You could say they are ‘regulars’, they recognize my voice or name and know they have spoken to me before. They know that I am going to own the problem for them and see it through to conclusion. That is part of the beauty of a voice call, it is more personal. It is a good way to build up rapport and understanding. It is a voice to associate directly to addressing a need.
We have a lot of diversity on the team. Everyone seems to have a different skillset. One agent is a former FSE so has lots of hands-on experience, we have a recent college graduate which gives a fresh outlook to how we resolve issues; we also have an agent who specializes in automation and is excellent with data management software. We work as a team, understanding each other’s unique talents, and aim to grab resources wherever we can! Our PSEs and FSEs often come to us and feature on the hotline too, on a rotation basis. This is a real benefit, because there has been many a time when I have been able to bring their experience directly into an initial call.
For the products that we take the most calls about, we receive in-person ‘hands-on’ or virtual training. We also read and digest equipment manuals, and sometimes opportunity arises for ‘FSE ride-alongs’ where we visit a customer with an engineer and gather first-hand real-time experience.
What can a caller do to help the process?
There are a few simple actions that anyone can take before the call, the most obvious being able to provide the equipment serial number. This will rapidly give us access to instrument history – maybe it will show repeat call of a similar nature, or perhaps, detail some maintenance. It seems funny to say this, but it is always best to ensure it is the person who operates the equipment that makes the call. Their direct knowledge of the equipment and its fault or issue ensures no details are lost in the initial call and solutions are found quickly.
So, what’s next?
Our job is essentially to triage. We fix things over the phone. And if we can’t fix it, we send our Field Service Engineers in. Jot down the number from our service support page and when you are in need, dial us and see how we can help you.
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