Developing Software–Cesar Millan style

So I don’t own a dog. Okay, our family had a dog when I was a kid. I did own a cat, and when it died, so did my desire to have another pet.

I have been fascinated, though, by watching the Dog Whisperer. How often have you seen a TV show and been enlightened? Repeatedly have I noticed that he states that you need to make sure that you respond at or above the level of intensity of the offense. The other trait is that you need to be calm, or in other words, you can’t project emotional or nervous energy.

This weekend was a prime example of those traits in action. A client of mine has been unable to process claims through our BizTalk solution that has been running for 5 years. Last Monday I opened up a ticket with Microsoft and set the severity to A: Production Down. I was unable to work on it, so I assigned the primary number to the DBA. Throughout the week, I got bits and pieces that work was in fact being done. On Friday I called in to continue working on the problem, and the severity was lowered to a C. I immediately raised it to Severity A. I was promised that I would receive a call in two hours.

Two hours came and went. I asked another of my employees to handle it through the evening.




Saturday morning, I called in at 8:00 asking to find out what is going on. They couldn’t contact the support representative. Of course they couldn’t: I couldn’t either, and the support rep hadn’t even set up his voice mail.

I decided that I had enough. I sent an email off to someone who might be able to resolve it.

STEVE BALLMER: Okay. So what I will do, one other comment, if you send e-mail to somebody who works at Microsoft, and they don’t return it, I’m angry. Feel free any time you’re not getting an e-mail response from one of our people, just forward it to me. (Cheers and applause.) It will help, believe me. You will help me improve Microsoft, and I bet we can improve the response rates awfully quickly. I give out my e-mail address often, SteveB, SteveB, SteveB, okay. I do it all the time. And the truth is, I don’t get that much e-mail from customers. The customers don’t waste your time. MVPs don’t waste my time. People send legitimate questions, concerns, ideas. Computers send spam, not human beings, by and large. And if you’re not getting a response, seriously, send me one or two, I guarantee you things will clear up pretty darned quick.

Below are the two emails I sent to Steve Balmer:

On Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 8:05 AM, Eric Stott <> wrote:


For one of my clients, we have been in a production down situation. I have been engaged at another client this week, so I opened a ticket as a Sev A issue and gave them the DBA’s contact information. At some time during the week, they dropped the severity to a Sev C.

On Friday around 3:00 I was free to resume troubleshooting the issue.

I called Deepak to continue working on this issue, however he was not available, nor was his voice mail setup. I then called the main support number and raised the severity to an A. I was told that I would receive a call within 2 hours. A few hours later I called again and was told that they couldn’t get in contact with anyone there either. I had another engagement so I assigned another one of my employees to work on this through the night.

No one ever called!

Does BizTalk support only operate on a Monday 8:00am – Friday 3:00pm regardless of the severity?

We really need to get production working as we cannot process anything through BizTalk right now. Is it possible that someone at Microsoft Support can call me immediately?

Eric Stott


On Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 2:10 PM, Eric Stott <> wrote:


I have continued to wait past the promised 2 hour call back time.

I got on the phone at noon and asked to talk to someone who could tell me when I would be getting a call back. I was told that I would have to wait the necessary two hours.

I told the person on the phone I was willing to wait on hold until I got a call back. After about 10 minutes, the hold music ended, I looked down and I was hung up on.

I then called back and talked to a Ray who I asked how I can get in contact with him if I get disconnected and he hung up on me.

I then called back and John who would not provide me any way other than the 800 number I originally called in on. He forwarded me this email. 

This does not appear to be any type of indication on when I am going to be getting a call back (not within the two hours).

John told me that I would be receiving a call within an hour. I clarified that I will be getting a call by 12:50 PST and he said yes.

Eric Stott

I did get Randy to call me back on Saturday afternoon. His resolution was to un-configure and reconfigure BizTalk.

We did and it has not solved our issue however.

I did receive the following email:

On Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 7:35 PM, Sabina Jose <> wrote:

Hello Eric

I am an Operations Managers at Microsoft. I apologize for the inconvenience caused by our failure to meet your support expectations. I am investigating the issues highlighted in your email and will ensure that steps are taken to address the breakdown. In the meantime I did check in with the Duty Manager and the from the case notes it does seem like you are being assisted by engineer – Randy. If this is not correct please give me a call at 704-XXX-XXXX at the earliest. I will call you soon to follow up. Please do not hesitate to contact me  or my manager – Craig @ 980-XXX-XXXX directly should you have any further cause for concern. I am committed to ensuring that you receive the best possible support experience.



Sabina Jose

Sr. Operations Manager  |  Global Planning & Operations  |  Microsoft Services

We are still troubleshooting the issue, but a few take away lessons from this experience:

  1. I was willing to do whatever it took to get the response from Microsoft I was promised multiple times by the technical routers.
  2. I never acted irrational. Professional I was at all times during the entire ordeal.
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