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Engine Works Blog

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

7:45 am - Wednesday in the Irvine office can only mean one thing: free bagels. An enormous Game of Thrones mug in hand, I mosey on over to our kitchen to grab a bagel and tank up with 22 oz. of liquid productivity.

 

bagels.jpgWinter is Coming. Jk it's just the Alteryx Bus.

Winter is coming. JK I live in SoCal.

 

8:00 am - Refueled and raring to go, I head into my first meeting. @MargaritaW leads this meeting every other day to check-in on any client issues we need to escalate to our developers, or to discuss any potential escalations and brainstorm together. She asks how things are moving with my escalations, and if there is anything that she can do to help. It’s a pretty simple fix, and I’ve already been chatting with the developer about it, so I let her know it seems to be on track. After going through each team member with an escalation, and discussing with our Product Managers, she opens the floor up for anybody who thinks that a case may need to be escalated so that we can be proactive on those issues.

 

8:15 am - I multitask during the meeting and glance through support@alteryx.com to see what our users are emailing in about. Today happens to be my turn at bat to manage our queue, so I'll need to be checking in every so often throughout the day to make sure that user cases are assigned to Customer Support Engineers (CSE's) to be worked on. Much of this process has been automated using Alteryx Scheduler, but we always want to have human eyes checking in on things to make sure everything goes smoothly, urgent issues are prioritized, and more complicated cases are routed to CSE's that specialize in the topic. This can sometimes be a bit tricky, but luckily for me @MikeA has made a pretty cool workflow to give the queue manager suggestions on how best to assign cases. Regardless, it's a shared responsibility that we take pretty seriously. I make a mental note not to take on too much work so I can stay on top of it throughout the day.

 

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8:30 am - Emails, emails, and more emails.. And maybe a voicemail or two. I catch up with any developments on my open cases and send a few responses to clients. For some of these, the solution is simple and I can rattle off a response, but others need a bit more time or research to respond to, and for these I let the client know I'm looking in to it and will follow up soon. One of my users has sent an exported workflow to help explain their question, so I download that and take a look. Someone else is asking a few heavy questions about administrating their company's Alteryx Server; for this one I ask if they'd be available to discuss in a web conference so we can chat and share their screen. As a rule, I try to balance priority with expediency, so older or more urgent issues get addressed as soon as possible.

 

9:00 am - I hop into my first client call. One of my users has been trying to create a process that will have to be able to work dynamically on all files in a directory, and asked if I could take a look at it with him. Although as a team we don’t build out solutions, we're always happy to discuss how to do something, provide resources, or hash out an example. I ask him to talk me through what's going on in his workflow, and we end up discussing a more advanced topic: batch macros. I take control of his screen to build out a small example. As we go along I try to pepper in a few tips and tricks, stuff to watch out for, and some workflow settings that make it easier to troubleshoot. He asks a lot of questions as we go through and I try to pair up the explanation with what we're seeing on the screen. In no time he has that awesome Aha! moment as it all clicks and the gears start turning. "I can probably use this to help automate a completely different process!" he realizes out loud. It's like a scene from a Disney movie.

 

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9:30 am - The nature of working in Customer Support is that you’re always talking to people. But whether we're chatting with team members, fulfillment techs, product managers, quality engineers, software developers, solutions consultants, solutions engineers or account managers, the customer is always the center of what we do. Today’s no exception: as I get off my call I notice my fellow Irvine CSE @SophiaF chatting with one of our Account Executives about licensing Server and Scheduler. I also see a chat from our Alteryx for Good Program Coordinator @QuyenT asking what sort of free information we have available for new users. That's a no brainer - @WayneW holds a weekly onboarding session to introduce everything anyone needs to know to get dangerous, from Weekly Exercises on the Knowledge Base to recorded training webinars on our website.

 

10:30 am - I'm reminded that self-education is not just for our users when I get an email from @ChristineB, who runs a weekly 'CS University' in which team members and guest presenters from other groups take us through a topic in depth. Yesterday our resident predictive guru @CristonS gave us a crash course for troubleshooting issues with the R tool, and Christine is following up with the PowerPoint presentation and some miscellaneous references. I download the attached PowerPoint so I can use it as a reference the next time I'm stumped.

 

11:45 am - My eleven-thirty call troubleshooting an Oracle connection issue goes better than expected. I summarize the problem in our Salesforce case system so it can be referenced if someone else comes across it in the future, and assign a few more cases from our queue. Then I head down to the cafeteria and pick up an absolutely massive burrito.

 

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What a burritoful sight.

 

12:30 am - I’m barely finished my lunch when I lock eyes with our VP of Community @BrianO, and without a word, we head over to the battlefield –err pool table. This is probably my favorite perk of the Irvine office. This week we're holding our first ever billiards tournament. Single elimination. The stakes have never been higher. Well except that time I played @DeanS for my job. And lost.

 

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Grinning like a buffoon mere moments before potential unemployment.

 

1:00 pm - For a change of pace, I take my laptop and headset over to a standing desk. I'm working on a follow-up email to a question involving the Download tool. The core of my email is links to useful resources like the Tool Mastery series. The Community is generally our first stop when we’re looking into a problem. Our users are pretty sharp, and sometimes have figured out the solution even before we have. That’s what makes our User Groups so popular – users helping users, not to mention we've got an active community of ACEs chiming in with their expertise.

 

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Concentrated brainpower at a Dallas User Group meeting.

 

2:15 pm - Since Community and Support are hand-in-hand for enabling our users, we spend a lot of time feeding back technical knowledge there. Since I have a bit of a lull in which I’m waiting on responses from my clients, I decide to work on an article I’m writing for the Knowledge Base. Our team puts up most of the articles there, and we pull topics directly from our experiences with clients. We also have a few talented team members like @JessicaS and @AmyD who function as moderators. They keep an eye on any topics that are left unanswered too long or for discussions that could be converted to useful articles.

 

3:00 pm - As a west coast CSE, I keep the last 2 hours of my day open for supporting users on live chat. I get a chat about some help with parsing dates (another one of my favorite topics), and then another chat asking for help with scheduling a workflow. Things go pretty smoothly until a chat comes in: "GALLERY DOWN - URGENT".

 

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First thing's first: I take a couple deep breaths, a 30 second meditation break, and chant a short prayer to the IT gods. Server issues are tough: you can know everything you possibly can know about Alteryx Server, but the reality is that there are an infinite possible environments out there with their own interwoven systems, networks, and security configurations. These cases are rarely solved in a quick, text-based exchange... but then again, momma didn't raise no chicken.

 

I enter the chat, start to type my usual greeting, but immediately get pinged: "Can I share my screen?" Well, we’ve all had those days. Obviously this is time sensitive. We transition over to a web conference and jump right into troubleshooting. After covering the basics, I’m still not sure what is going on. Even worse, live chat is now lighting up and there are two people sitting in the chat queue not yet being helped.

 

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Me during this live chat.

 

In order to keep things moving, I try to lasso one of our two server gunslingers to help answer a few of my questions. @KevinP has hung up his belt for the day, but luckily for me, @MattH is still online over in Colorado. He's also probably halfway out the door right now…

 

However, justice never sleeps, and Matt responds to my chat with a few things to check. He guides me from afar, like a Jedi master training a young padawan, and soon we’re able to figure out what is happening. After passing on his wisdom, and making liberal use of Community articles to support the recommended course of action, the customer is able to resolve their issue and get their Gallery back up.

 

I open a file on my Desktop, BeersYouOweMattH.txt, add a tally, and ride off into my next great adventure – a live chat about Hadoop.

 

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Customer Support is a team sport.

Alex Koszycki
Program Manager, Community Platform

Alex is acutely aware of all the sleep he's lost wrangling gigantic data-sets. But that's ok; now he gets to work with the Alteryx Community, spreading a new culture of analytics. Get it done quicker, automate that task, and have more time to think about the bigger picture. Also it's fun, so there's that.

Alex is acutely aware of all the sleep he's lost wrangling gigantic data-sets. But that's ok; now he gets to work with the Alteryx Community, spreading a new culture of analytics. Get it done quicker, automate that task, and have more time to think about the bigger picture. Also it's fun, so there's that.

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