Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Compugen Inc., from Richmond Hill, Ontario

Describe the solution or service you provide.

This submission pertains to Compugen’s unique and exceptional work as part of the CommVault Global Support Help Desk, providing front-line support and, in a growing number of cases, level-one support to nearly 18,000 CommVault customers worldwide.

Compugen provides this support in English and in 11 other languages corresponding to CommVault customer native language preferences. CommVault is a publicly traded data and information management software company headquartered in Oceanport, New Jersey, making its mark with the industry’s leading data protection product, Simpana software, which gives companies a better way to protect, manage and gain business value from their data.

The Simpana platform provides an integrated suite of solutions for backup, archiving, encryption, data de-duplication and continuous data replication. Simpana has been acknowledged by many in the industry as the leading modern data and information management technology platform.

In 2012, CommVault achieved revenues of US $406.6 million, up 29 per cent  over the prior year. Software revenue grew on a year-over-year basis by 35%, while its services business grew 24 per cent. CommVault is positioned as a Leader in the Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software. As of July 1, 2013, CommVault receives approximately 40,000 calls monthly at its Global Support Help Desk, and with significant business growth – a compound growth rate of 30 per cent annually in an industry that is growing at only 7 per cent per year – the number of customers, and hence the number of support calls, continues to grow. With the major focus of this growth in global emerging markets and new business territories, the company was experiencing a requirement to provide increased support in the native languages of its customers.

Beginning in 2010, CommVault engaged Compugen to augment its Customer Support team with 24×7 Level 0 frontline support in the form of service request ticket management and real-time simultaneous language translation during calls with overseas customers, initially in French, and since that time growing to include a total of 11 different languages, the latest to be added being Japanese and Russian.

If calls need to be referred to more-senior Level 1 CommVault personnel, then the Compugen agent connects the CommVault person to the call and remains on the line to provide translation. To further meet the unique needs of overseas callers, the Compugen help desk agents, located in Compugen facilities in Toronto and Montreal, work a wide variety of shifts throughout the day to align with the time zones of their callers. For example, the person supporting French, primarily for calls originating in France and Central Europe, works from 3:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, while the two Mandarin agents work from 2:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. respectively. All Compugen frontline staff have the Product Specialist & System Administrator certifications from CommVault and attend a two-week training session at CommVault’s headquarters in Oceanport, New Jersey. Over time, as the growing Compugen CommVault team became increasingly knowledgeable on Simpana software and gained the trust of CommVault as a reliable provider of quality help desk services, Compugen began also providing Level 1 support, resolving many product and technical issues for CommVault customers. If the Compugen Level 1 support agent is unable to resolve the incident at this level, the call is escalated to CommVault Level 2 support.

The Compugen CommVault support team now has 25 dedicated staff working out of Compugen call centres in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, with Calgary also having been added recently. What is somewhat unique about this engagement is that the Compugen help desk is helping CommVault customers – we typically provide such support to our customers’ internal end users rather than to their customers – and we are also supporting an actual product in this case rather than supporting a user group, as in our customary help desk support model.

What made your service of the highest quality? Provide measurable evidence of how you benefitted the customer’s business.

After proving itself to be a skilled and reliable resource in handling CommVault’s frontline support and language translation requirements, the Compugen help desk team was asked to broaden the scope of its support to include handling some English calls as well, and then ultimately assisting CommVault’s Level 1 support. The Compugen agents are evaluated every day, and consistently found to be effective, by CommVault management, who monitor the calls and the ticket tracking system on an ongoing basis.

The level of quality put forth by Compugen is not just “best effort”, but rather employees are held accountable to the same quality requirements as CommVault employees and as measured by CommVault management using reports and statistics generated every day by the CommVault system. These statistics relate to measures such as number of calls handled, number of calls dropped, speed with which calls are answered, average time to remediation, resulting customer satisfaction, and so on. For the third year in a row, CommVault’s Service organization has achieved the highest performance score in customer support in its industry sector (i.e., companies with more than 10,000 customers). This Customer Satisfaction Index is determined by Help Desk International, an independent, third-party organization that conducts surveys and gathers statistics on customer satisfaction, license renewal rates, etc. HDI is a leading professional association and certification body for the technical service and support industry.

Providing simultaneous language translation has had a huge impact on customer satisfaction, since callers can describe their problems in their native language and not have to translate them into English. The resulting high level of performance metrics for the service calls reflects the ability of the Compugen support agent/translator to work together effectively with the CommVault customer support engineers – the quality of the Compugen agent is clearly an ‘enabler’ for successful support results. “To maintain such a high rating, we have set an extraordinarily high bar for our partners,” says Robert Brower, CommVault VP of Global Customer Support & Customer Education Services, adding that, “Although we have a group of partners who have a job to do and do it, we have another group of partners who are emotionally and intellectually invested in our mutual success – and Compugen is one of them.” Brower explains further by saying that Compugen has shown consistently that it is not interested in just ‘ticking the boxes’ and fulfilling the minimal obligations of the program, but rather recommends things that benefit CommVault and improve the program. “The Compugen team also performs nimbly, is agile in terms of how they execute and is always there when called upon to deliver support that is ‘above & beyond’,” adds Brower, who is adamant in his belief that they can directly connect Compugen’s contribution on the services side to increased business revenue, saying that 65 per cent of their $500 million annual revenue comes from their existing install base, and they had a 94 per cent renewal rate for their support contracts with customers. “Compugen is directly contributing to that process, and if they weren’t ‘delivering the goods,’ then that performance metric wouldn’t be at the level it is,” insists Brower.

From Compugen’s perspective, the quality of its support stems from its hiring practices – we screen based on ‘aptitude’ but we hire based on ‘attitude.’ Compugen chooses people who are absolute team players who think and act as a team and will stand up for each other – a ‘loner’ simply does not fit this profile. For its hiring, Compugen uses a committee that includes HR, technical specialists and project management; and then successful candidates are also interviewed by CommVault, which validates the Compugen hiring process. According to the Operations Manager managing the team of Compugen CommVault call centre agents, Compugen interviewed more than 120 people to find its most recent new recruit for that team. “We need people who have perfect communications skills in both English and the second language, are fairly technical, have awesome customer service skills, are independent and don’t need to be managed closely, because I’m not around at 2:00 a.m. to do that, and who are self-starters who will always be looking for things to do and finding solutions on their own,” says the Compugen manager.

Describe how services were delivered in a timely fashion, or how the response to a crisis was above and beyond the usual.

You likely could not find a better example of a crisis to which Compugen responded in a fashion that was over and above what could normally be expected than Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the U.S. northeastern seaboard last October.

When CommVault learned that their head office and primary customer support call centre in Oceanport, New Jersey were directly in the path of the approaching hurricane, they contacted Compugen and requested that Compugen be on standby to provide whatever call centre support might be required. “I was in Australia at the time, visiting one of our other call centre locations and when I called Compugen to ask for help for what I knew was going to be a bad storm, they didn’t even blink.

With no questions asked, they said “ok, we’re on it” and they engaged right away,” exclaims Brower. In response, the entire Compugen CommVault team geared up over a weekend to help CommVault’s business stay open. For the next four to five days, the Compugen call centre took over for the majority of U.S. operating hours as the main recipient and dispatcher for customer support calls coming in to CommVault, connecting the calls with Level 1 support agents in the CommVault centres in either Australia or England for remediation. Compugen received the inbound calls, opened the service request tickets, dispatched the calls to the other call centres and managed the calls to ensure they all got answered and followed through on to completion – not a single customer call was lost or missed throughout the entire disaster! “In a partner community that consists of roughly 45 partners globally, Compugen and one other partner in South Africa, were the ones that stepped up when Sandy hit; and they said nothing about the cost and what’s in it for them, but rather just did it,” reports Brower, pointing out that, “That type of execution says you’re well beyond just a partner, but rather you are now ‘family’.” In April, 2012, Compugen was named as CommVault’s Support Partner of the Year in CommVault’s first annual worldwide PartnerAdvantage™ Partner of the Year Awards for its significant contribution to providing superior support for CommVault’s Simpana software product. “As a valued partner, Compugen has continually succeeded in meeting the standards that set CommVault Customer Support apart from the industry. As we continue to execute on customer satisfaction for the enterprise, it is critical to have partners like Compugen who are lock-step with us to provide excellent support and retain the lasting customer relationships that propel our business,” said Robert Brower, at the time. At its second annual worldwide Partner of the Year Awards program held at the company’s worldwide sales kickoff event in Miami in May, 2013, CommVault once again recognized Compugen as its Global Support Partner of the Year for its sustained and increased role in strategic aspects of CommVault’s software-support business.

As a premier service-support organization, Compugen has been able to leverage its people, tools and processes to integrate seamlessly into the CommVault global support organization so that regional CommVault support calls are addressed in the language of the customer’s choice by qualified CommVault and Compugen support personnel. Over the past two years the levels and language of Compugen support integration have grown to include frontline and Tier-one personnel addressing customer requirements in a growing number of languages. “Partners like Compugen are essential to the success of our joint customers and to the success of our shared business objectives,” stated Ralph Nimergood, CommVault’s VP, Worldwide Partner & Programs. “We recognize Compugen as our Global Support Partner of the Year because the company is clearly committed to helping our mutual customers solve their modern data management challenges. We value Compugen’s approach and commitment to helping us deliver a superior support experience to our customers and ensuring their success.”

How does your service surpass competitors in meeting the needs of customers?

What Compugen provides to CommVault is the ability to be nimble as they grow in emerging markets.

One of the lever points they have is that Toronto and Montreal are international culture and language melting pots, so when CommVault needs a certain language translator to support customers around the world, Compugen delivers, or if they say they need a translator to work a particular shift in the middle of the night to support customers on the other side of the world, Compugen delivers – that nimbleness is a benefit for CommVault because it provides something they can’t otherwise provide on their own.

“Their people and their processes make them absolutely stand out above others,” claims Brower. “With Compugen, we don’t just have engineers/agents who take tickets – we also have a dedicated Compugen program manager who is attached to this operation and who is continuously looking at the program from the perspective of whether it is good, whether it is good enough, how it can be made better, and if it can be made better, how do we do that, and collaboratively, what needs to be done by both parties to achieve that better result – and all this is done at Compugen’s own expense, but to their success.”

Compugen is the only CommVault partner globally that has a complete roster of competencies beyond just the help desk capability. For example, Compugen is also a CommVault reseller partner, designing and implementing Simpana software-based solutions for Compugen’s own customers, offering sales, engineering, design, deployment, training and support services. No other company has this level of skills or this many people (25) dedicated to supporting and advancing CommVault’s business. All of these capabilities would require significant human and financial investments for any other firm to achieve; however, Compugen has been investing in, building and leveraging these competencies for many years, and we now provide a fully integrated offering to CommVault, which started with just help desk support. “Compugen is qualitatively invested in CommVault’s business and in our mutual success,” says Brower. “It’s not just ‘the CommVault program at Compugen’ but rather ‘our program together’ in terms of how we continue to enhance it. It’s one thing for me to say to a partner, ‘I need you to do such and such’, and the partner saying ‘ok, I’ll do it,’ but that’s just me improving the program based on my own perspective. Compugen, on the other hand, is saying that ‘if we do this and that together’, or ‘here’s a suggestion as to how we can improve something,’ it doesn’t just benefit Compugen, it pushes the entire program forward for all partners. It’s the active collaboration between us that really makes all the difference in the world; and in terms of Compugen being that better, value-added service – the ‘concierge service’ – they really deliver on that statement, rather than the many who just mouth it because its part of the industry vernacular.”

“We have built a very reliable team and a process that is well adhered to, including good upfront investigation and thorough information gathering from CommVault customers calling in,” says the Compugen manager, adding that she used to meet weekly with CommVault supervisors for a one-hour status meeting, but now all that is required is a ten-minute phone call, usually with few if any issues to address. “We’re going into the third year of this highly successful relationship with Compugen and I can only see it growing from here,” concludes Brower.

How does the solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

“Our organization does not  have a ‘green plan’ yet – it’s of interest to the government, but not yet a requirement,” says CommVault’s Brower.

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  • Leanne St Louis

    On June 19, 2014 the Compugen Service Desk management laid off 11 of its members. About a third of the team. Their service levels are the worst in the industry at the moment.