From The Lighter Side at MIP History


MIP’s pursuit of excellence in its 40 years is evidenced by its long list of customers, awards, and reputation. That said, there have been some “lighter” moments that are fondly remembered during its evolution through the years. In the early 1990s, before the advent of email (and long before PDFs and the cloud), it was not uncommon for documents and packages to physically move between offices via overnight carrier or other expedited delivery options. Computer support was primitive without the benefit of remotely viewing a PC outside the local network. As a result, MIP support reps had to open software on their own screen and ask the user to do the same and attempt to mimic actions while verbally instructing them until the problem was identified. In some instances, it was a challenge, but frequently manageable as “the way it was.” During that time, backup data was stored on 5.25” floppy disks that held up to 640k (or barely more than a half an MB) of data and often required multiple disks. Customers often sent their discs to MIP for analysis into the problem(s) they were experiencing.

In 1991, while on the phone attempting to assist a user notorious to the staff for a lack of computer savvy, a new MIP tech support rep was unable to duplicate the problem. He asked the customer to send a copy of the data by mail to further investigate. A few days later, a letter arrived with the return address of the user. The MIP rep opened it and found text at the top that expressed appreciation for his assistance in helping solve the matter and referenced the inclusion of the requested data copy.

However, what appeared on the paper beneath the note was a black square with a one-inch hole in the middle. The user had made a photocopy of the backup diskette and mailed it—a literal “copy” of the data disk. Bewildered, the MIP rep showed colleagues the letter. They reacted with laughter, but instead of laughing at the letter itself, it turned out to be an office prank played on the new support rep. The other MIP reps had made a copy of the user’s stationery from documents in the paper (not electronic in those days) file and created the printed disk image on it. They indeed had the last laugh at the expense of their new colleague!

Evolution in Customer Support

Through all its technological advancements across four decades of evolution, MIP’s dedication to customers remains a pillar of consistency. The methodology may have changed, but the philosophy has been in place since the company’s origin.

In the early days, MIP utilized a callback system and there were no inbound calls. A customer would call the main number and a receptionist would take their information and enter it into a system that printed a 4×6 card to be clipped to the wall. Support analysts grabbed a card and returned to their desk to call the customer. Call notes were kept in a basic FoxPro database or when a message was left or the case went unresolved, notes would be written on the card before it went back on the wall. As cases were closed, their cards were dropped into a box.

By the year 2000, MIP wrote its own internal call tracking application, MIP 2000. Still, a callback system, the receptionist taking the calls typed information into an application that all support staff had access to when calling to respond to the customer’s inquiry. In the event the application or network failed, staff went back to the original system of cards on the wall, which they dubbed “MIP 1000.” An inbound call model arrived in 2005, complete with the slogan “Live in ‘05.” After enhancing their call center system, MIP implemented chat support capabilities, which accounts for a significant volume of today’s cases.

Through the years, the evolution of analyst and customer training grew significantly. In earlier times, analysts received a stack of manuals and a list of common issues in preparation for taking calls. Today, a six-week formal training process is in place for new analysts plus additional recurring department-wide staff training. Early customers could only participate in on-site classes led by MIP’s training department. Since then, online Webex-based training and most recently, Abila University, consisting of a wide array of pre-recorded materials for customers to access, have been added to supplement in-person training options.

“With all the changes in our Support operations over the years, our dedication to our customers remains a constant,” said Charlie Schroeder-Arce, Manager, Customer Support. “When I started working here over 20 years ago, the MIP slogan was ‘helping those who do good things do them better.’ I feel fortunate and proud to be able to say I am part of the support team that continues to do this every day.”

Join in on MIP’s 40th Anniversary Celebration and read customer success stories, more about MIP’s history, and an exclusive offer for new customers.

NOTE: Special thanks to Robert “Q” Johnson, Charlie Schroeder-Arce, and Claudine Martin for their assistance and insight

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