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An Engineer Down the Hall Evolves

Since our inception 30+ years ago, working closely with customers to ensure our tools meet our customers' needs has been pretty critical to our success. We coined the phrase "an engineer down the hall" to describe how we wanted our engineers to work with our customers. We want to be the folks you come and talk to when you have problems, and we want to give comprehensive quality answers that sometimes cross the line between support and consulting. If we can tell you about our products, great, but we also want to give good solid engineering advice about general ways to solve complex problems.

The way we organized to be an "engineer down the hall" was by not having a customer support group at all. We made our product development team the support team. Because if you have a problem with a specific terrain loader, we want you to talk to the person who wrote the terrain loader. If you have a problem with how a particular model was rendered, we want you to talk to the person who wrote the shader for model rendering. This approach has two great benefits: 1) our customers are able to get the answers they need quickly – because they can go right to the source, and 2) our engineers who work on these features get feedback. If they write features that don't work well, they are the ones to hear about it first!

Growing MAK support to better serve our customers
When MAK support started out, we used a shared email box. Every support ticket got read by everyone and people who knew the answer would respond. This process lasted about 20 years! It mostly worked. Due to the shared inbox sometimes emails were mistakenly deleted and lost, and occasionally really wacky things happened - like some MAK engineer wrote to his mother from the support queue and the response was shared with everyone. (Oops.)

As our customer base grew and expanded all around the world, we grew our support processes with it. We switched to a formal ticket tracking system, OnTime, where customers would be assigned a ticket number in the subject of their support request email. This ticket number enabled us to track tickets and assign them to our engineers accordingly. This improved the process and experience for our customers quite a bit, but there were still issues: our customers didn't always know the status of their tickets unless he or she had a particularly organized inbox. And there weren't clear and easy ways for customers to understand the status of older tickets.

Onwards and upwards: MAK Customer Support Portal
For those of you who have requested customer support recently, you have likely noticed a difference. While we will still handle support via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), we now have a MAK Customer Support Portal that provides some really great support benefits (sign-in to is required to access the portal) and MAK Self-Help Resources.

  • Customers can now get a full list of all their support tickets in one place. If you are managing multiple issues, even if different people at MAK are handling them, you now have one place to go and look to see what the status is.
  • Customers can associate a ticket with a program. By letting us know a specific ticket is associated with a particular program, our engineers can search for related tickets to get more background on the challenge or see earlier tickets that may have already been answered. By tying together issues, we have a better chance of solving them faster.
  • Each ticket created on the portal reminds you to fill in important information: what product and version are you having problems with? What operating system are you using? These questions are optional, but the more you can fill in, the faster we can give you a good answer and get you simulating.

After thirty years of evolution and growth, MAK is proud to still be the engineer down the hall for our customers. We are continuing to refine the support section of to make access to our online support resources and support portal easier for you.

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