As Microsoft converts its Premier Support customers to Unified Support, more and more people are exploring other options and switching to US Cloud Premier Support – a Microsoft Unified Support alternative. Here are 12 questions answered about it.
Are health checks done remotely, or on site?
We have done both. We can establish a secure connection into your farm, or we can send some of our top engineers to your site so that they can spend a few days looking at things on-premises. It’s usually more efficient for everyone involved to do these via remote access, so that is much more common.
Do you have any testimonials from customers using this service?
Are the support engineers based in the U.S. and/or English as a first language?
Yes. US Cloud is ITAR certified and all our staff is located in St. Louis.
I do not mind waiting 30 minutes for Microsoft to return my call, knowing that I have a qualified individual with access to millions of internal KBs, as well as access to several teams who know the product inside and out. I may get a call back in six minutes (from US Cloud), but am I getting the same type of knowledgeable support that Microsoft can offer?
Our folks who get that support request ticket at US Cloud will immediately get started on troubleshooting that ticket. They have access to our extensive knowledge base here that has been built up over 20 years of managing Microsoft applications, plus the experience gained from working with so many different kinds of environments.
It’s not an auto-reply within six minutes saying that your request has been received and then three days go by before anyone actually begins working on it. It’s a live person on our staff jumping on it within six minutes.
And if it’s a business critical issue, the difference between six minutes and 30 can be paramount.
How many users can call in?
Customer discretion. Two or three seems to be the norm. Beyond five has historically caused heartache for customers. Our safety protocols require that they must be on the customer’s tech contact or admin list to submit a support request.
Do you cover Active Directory, Directory File Services or Group Policy?
With more than 20 years of supporting Microsoft technologies, US Cloud can look at your usage report, if you’re a current Microsoft Premier Support customer, or do a needs analysis with you, and customize a concierge-style support plan to provide your team with the support you need for which products you need covered so that you’re only paying for the support you need.
How much experience do you have with this, exactly?
We have been supporting Microsoft technologies since 1996 and we’ve resolved 61,000 support tickets with less than 1% escalated to Microsoft. We support all Microsoft technologies, except for Dynamics AX and Visual Studio. We have been a Microsoft Certified Partner for 15+ years and a Microsoft Certified Cloud Solution Partner for 5+ years.
We have MCSE certifications for Database, Infrastructure, Cloud, and SharePoint; MCSA certifications for Windows Server, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Azure, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Web Apps; MTA certifications for Windows Server, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Azure, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Web Apps, Skype for Business, Windows 10, Developer, and IT Infrastructure. We also have CCNA, CCNP, A+, Network+, Security+, Cloud+, and MOS certifications.
When it comes to resolving issues with the product, how often does US Cloud reach out to Microsoft directly?
Less than 1% of our support tickets are escalated to Microsoft. It only happened four times in 2017, and all of those were for bugs. We won’t abandon you in that situation though. We’ll white glove the experience of dealing with Microsoft for you.
The pricing you have for MS seems to be different than my contract with MS?
We find that MS Premier Support contracts vary greatly by customer like Enterprise Agreements (EA). In most cases, customers are overpaying either in actual rate or the level of support/responsiveness.
Our recent experience with clients has shown that most customers will see a 30-60% price increase from Microsoft Premier Support to Unified Support. That covers unlimited hours, but for organizations that don’t need unlimited hours and only want to pay for what they need, US Cloud Premier Support can save them at least 30-60% compared to Microsoft Unified Support.
Plus, our clients have found that their spend is more efficient with US Cloud, due to our ability to have our all-USA-based engineers jump on tickets and start working the issue within six minutes, instead of working your way through extensive phone trees, overseas call center escalations, and complicated online portals, explaining your issue over and over from the beginning, as you try to reach someone who can actually help.
We are confident we can deliver better service while saving customers MS support dollars that they can put into more important areas of the company.
Why would I use US Cloud for Microsoft support instead of Microsoft?
US Cloud engineers are exposed to more diverse environments and problems than most Microsoft engineers. Our guys and gals support 1,500 customized server farms. No two are alike. We fix more problems in the first 30 days after a product release than anyone else on the planet.
100% of our engineers are US citizens and natural, native English speakers. Nothing against Microsoft’s outsourced overseas call centers, but our clients say they truly appreciate the ease and clarity of communication with our teams — as well as the security and piece of mind that comes with all US-based support.
The cost savings is significant. Since we grow all our engineers, we can scale and serve you more efficiently. Most customers save anywhere from 30-60% annually or more.
Response times under 6 minutes doesn’t hurt either.
Do you have any leverage with Microsoft to get bugs fixed faster?
It depends. We do have direct access to development teams at Microsoft and if there is a truly urgent matter Microsoft will listen and respond. But Microsoft is also a business. Repairing bugs is about volume and risk. How many people (measured in revenue) are having the issue and how much risk is there to damaging to Microsoft brand by not repairing it sooner than later?
Our promise is that we will truly care about delivering exceptional support to your team and will advocate daily on your behalf with Microsoft.
Do I still get a dedicated Technical Account Manager?
US Cloud provides a dedicated, USA-based technical account manager, and a dedicated, USA-based service engineer, in its top two plans, and a shared TAM delivery service team in its core plan.
Do I still need my Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft?
That is a question for you, your CIO and CFO. Some companies are finding they can drastically reduce their Microsoft bill by dropping EA and buying/renting only what they truly consume and outsourcing their Microsoft support services to a third party provider like US Cloud.