Frontline User Support for Bridges-2 EUP
If you use a PSC machine, our user support team might have come to your rescue on one (or a few – we don’t judge!) occasions. Currently, that frontline user support team consists of the dynamic duo of Tom Maiden and TJ Olesky. Tom and TJ are part of a larger unit of user support pros who keep things running smoothly at PSC, and we’d be remiss to not mention Sergiu Sanielevici’s leadership over this entire team of experts for the outstanding service provision we hold ourselves accountable for. However, when it comes to those moments of panic – you’re locked out of a system – or moments of confusion – a software package seems to have disappeared – Tom and TJ are your go-to guys.
As the Bridges-2 Early User Program (EUP) finishes its run, Tom and TJ have been working tirelessly to answer tickets for the lucky group of users who have been able to test drive the new system. While it is always vital to support PSC’s users, in the case of the EUP, there is an added element of importance. During this period, our team has been working to find any bugs in the Bridges-2 system and fix them before we go into full production. This wouldn’t be possible without communication from Tom and TJ about user experience and issues that they’ve helped resolve, or issues that they’ve passed along to their colleagues.
We asked Tom and TJ about their experience with the month-long Bridges-2 EUP, given their important role in the process. Tom was quick to note, “we are part of a team of people at PSC who make user services work, and we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs without them. We need the experts to be able to answer a lot of the questions we get.” That notion of teamwork came up many times in our conversation – and has been an important part of the Bridges-2 planning and installation process. With such a massive machine and undertaking for PSC, it has truly been an “all hands on deck” experience, with collaboration and teamwork being the core values enabling successful outcomes.
With regards to user feedback, TJ reflected that he thinks users have mostly been happy so far. Our conversation took place about halfway through the EUP, and they hadn’t gotten many users writing in multiple times, or asking for additional assistance. They noted that this could be the nature of the users in this EUP, too – they really hit the ground running on Bridges-2, which the entire team noticed from day one! By the time of publication, we had received overwhelmingly positive feedback from users, referring to the support team as “very helpful,” “knowledgeable,” and with many acknowledgements of their speedy service!
Activity on Bridges-2 was booming during all four weeks of the EUP. TJ notes that when Bridges-2 came online, “nothing else stopped!” and he wanted to give a special shout-out to those users who exercised patience and acknowledged their hectic schedules – this awareness doesn’t go unnoticed!
Taking a step back from Bridges-2, Tom and TJ reflected on their roles at PSC and we dove a bit more into what makes them tick. On things that are most important to their success, they’re both of the opinion that communication is key – a great, universal mantra – in their case, maintaining the line of communication with the user is vital, even if there is a delay in getting an answer from, for example, a specialist who may have the answer they’re seeking on a problem. If they can provide the user with an update about said delay, they’re still communicating, and therefore still providing that high level of service in less-than-ideal conditions.
When they’re able to provide that great service, Tom and TJ can even develop a rapport with some users. Tom, who is the PSC veteran of the two, having started as a student back in 1992, shared that he feels most rewarded when someone he’s built a relationship with comes back to share their work with him – to show off a paper they published in Nature, for example, that Tom’s support in a small way helped enable. The end goal at PSC is to advance research, they agreed, so being able to be part of that is what it’s all about.
In addition to working with awesome users and developing great relationships, Tom and TJ get to work with everyone across PSC. They learn a little bit about each of the projects going on at the center, and what many staff members’ superpowers are, based on who helps them solve problems. This gives them special insight into the team, which has been especially beneficial to TJ, who joined in July of 2019. Of course, having someone like Tom to show him the ropes was a stroke of luck, too. The gratitude goes both ways, with Tom sharing: “without TJ here over the past few months, I would have lost a lot more sleep!” We love to see a dynamic duo in action!
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
In wrapping up our conversation on their role at PSC and during the Bridges-2 EUP, Tom re-emphasized that he and TJ aren’t the only ones doing the user support work. Ever an example of humility, he noted,
“TJ and I feel that we are an important part of the process, but we are just a part of it.
Due to the relatively small nature of PSC, so many of our staff wear many hats. Everyone who works at PSC dedicates part of their hat to user support – even our director – that’s how we are successful in this process.”
We thank Tom and TJ for providing the best-in-class user experience, especially during the Bridges-2 EUP, but we also tip our hats to the entire PSC team for their efforts, big or small, in keeping our physical and metaphorical machines up and running.