An interactive support facility with web-based conferencing technology at its heart is providing major benefits for users of EdgeCAM's CNC programming software and the company's worldwide reseller network.
Offering a complete package for NC milling, turning and mill/turn programming, EdgeCAM has been developed using hundreds of man-years of manufacturing expertise and experience. It is available in 19 languages and, with 120 resellers and 32,000 users worldwide, EdgeCAM's commitment to top-quality technical support is claimed to be one of the principal differentiators that keeps it ahead of its competitors.
By harnessing the power of affordable broadband technology, EdgeCAM has enhanced its support facility with a web-conferencing Support Centre from Webex, enabling interactive exchange between the company and its customers or resellers anywhere in the world.
According to sales director Simon Lee, the selection of Webex followed a formal review of the company's existing capabilities, aimed at not only providing the highest levels of support, but also ensuring its delivery in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Lee explains: "In the past, an incoming support call might typically involve a long and detailed conversation just to enable our engineers to determine the problem. With the complexity of some of our customers' operations, even our most skilled support staff could find it difficult to quickly understand matters over the telephone.
"However, the Webex facility has enabled us to elevate our support activities to a completely new level. If the customer's query cannot be settled straightaway, our engineer can ask them to click on the 'support session' option within EdgeCAM's help menu. This will initiate a joint session, where both people can view - and effectively share control of - the user's screen. It is a much more visual approach, enabling issues to be identified and resolved extremely quickly."
A further major benefit is that experts from EdgeCAM's operations anywhere in the world can easily be brought into the live session, if that is what it takes to answer a particularly complex or unusual point. Likewise, support staff no longer need to make costly and time-consuming journeys to customers' sites to resolve their problems. This, in turn, enables more support calls to be handled by each staff member, while simultaneously reducing pressure on EdgeCAM's travel budget.
Since its installation, EdgeCAM has been quick to take advantage of the Webex system's capabilities within its sales operations too.
Lee says: "As with support calls, pre-sales engineers no longer need to travel to prospects' sites in order to provide a comprehensive product demonstration. Not only can we do everything without leaving our offices, but we can also use the customer's own CAD models and components to highlight EdgeCAM's capabilities to the full. It's an extremely powerful aid to our sales force and resellers alike."
Lee underlines this point by citing the system's use by the company's agent in Sweden, which is now a strong market for EdgeCAM, despite the large distances between industrial centres and the problems of travelling around the country in winter.
The provision of expert assistance within a secure environment also offers extra benefits, as Lee explains: "For example, many of our customers operate within the defence or motorsports sectors and would never let a 3D CAD model outside of their own organisation. Using our Webex system, we can provide them with the support they require, while also ensuring complete confidentiality."
'One-to-many' interactive sessions are a further feature of the Webex system. Regarded as a key factor in providing remote support to EdgeCAM's worldwide reseller network, this capability has been utilised to establish regular webinars for overseas distributors on the first Friday of every month.
Lee says: "These sessions enable new features or software capabilities to be communicated in the most effective possible way. They are also recorded and can be replayed afterwards by anyone who missed the webinar, or who subsequently wants to review any aspects of the presentations in their own time. Likewise, all the CAD files from the session are available for our distributors to download and include in their own sales demonstrations."
Leading the CAD/CAM field
Lee believes that the growing availability of fast and cheap broadband is helping to realise the full potential of EdgeCAM's support facilities. Even so, the company is believed to be one of the first CAD/CAM vendors to harness web-conferencing as a means of delivering excellence in its customer and partner support.
He says: "It is now a central part of our operations. It allows us to optimise the use of our resources to provide a more streamlined and responsive service to our resellers and customers alike - all within our previous travel and establishment budgets!
"And with the added environmental benefits of eliminating unnecessary journeys to customers' sites, it is a genuine win-win for everyone concerned."