For DR YIELD, customer support, the technical assistance customers receive after buying our yield management software, is one of the most fundamental elements of what we do. Providing excellence in customer support is what drives us – our team of Software Developers makes customers their priority, providing top-notch service, which can also include custom-designed features to fit the individual needs our customers have.
Our customer key account managers are also key members of our software development team. We recently chatted with Fabian and Patrick, to learn how having both roles results in our high customer satisfaction marks.
What are your main tasks working in customer support?
Fabian: It’s hard to define because it’s very dynamic – we have lots of different responsibilities: meetings, customer-specific meetings, internal meetings, release management, research and development, feature development, data integration, connections between tests and development, connections between documentation and development… Work in the semiconductor industry varies a lot from day to day and week to week.
Patrick: I always have my list of tasks for the next day because there are always some things that didn’t get done the day before or that more or less never get done because of more urgent requests from customers. It’s really dynamic.
Fabian: Yes, and since we are always in very close contact to our customers, any issues they have are urgent so of course we try to address them immediately.
When working with new customers, we are mostly doing data integration and the installation of the software.
Patrick: Yes, for the first weeks with a new customer, it’s mainly installation and data integration, as well as customized feature development.
What are your main customer support tasks with existing customers?
Fabian: We often guide customers through our yield analysis software and answer questions about how to best use it. This is the main task for existing customers, I think.
With existing customers there is also sometimes new data – if they have a new wafer test or new automatic test equipment, for example. And specific feature development – if there are bigger custom feature requests this is very time consuming.
Overall, data integration issues are the biggest part of our workload.
How does data integration work?
Fabian: Customers usually have their database, data sets from their machines and also from their software development, sometimes it’s already kind of aggregated… so we take the data set that they have and translate it, or “parse” it, into a version that our system is able to read.
Patrick: Yes, and that also varies from customer to customer because although there is a standard in the industry – the standard test data format (STDF) – not everyone uses it or uses it correctly.
Sometimes we have customers with only one data format and then there’s not as much parsing to do as with other customers where every wafer test machine produces a different data output and we have to integrate it.
Fabian: And there is a big difference between qualities of data, so like Patrick said, we have customers which have data that is very difficult to parse and other times it’s a task which is done within some hours. For example, for one Asian semiconductor manufacturer I spent months getting their data prepared while my colleague Tobias managed to write around twenty parsers in the same time period, so data integration is very different from one customer to the next.
You mentioned custom feature development as one of your main tasks. How does this tie in to data integration?
Patrick: Sometimes we integrate special features into the YieldWatchDog software to deal with specific data.
Fabian: Yes, if there is a type of data we haven’t already covered in our software, or if there is some data which we are not able to visualize yet, then this is also part of the feature development to make it visible in the yield software.
Patrick: Yes, and merging data streams together for the customer.
It’s mostly about data integration. Like if they tell us there is a new wafer tester and we need this data for this certain tool…
We also get some feature requests for special charts.
Fabian: Yes, or some variations of the charts.
Patrick: Yes, because of specific data.
Is there a limit to the number of features you can create for each customer?
Fabian: Depending on their maintenance contract, customers have defined hours of maintenance and this is also used for feature development.
I think we are quite open to requests and since we have key account managers for each customer, there is always communication between the key account manager and the customer and together we define which features will be created, or maybe the features are already there but slightly different than the customer expects. It’s all about the communication between the customer and us.
Patrick: Yes, sometimes the customers expect things to look like their old yield management solution, then we show them how they can do it better.
Fabian: I think our biggest strength is that we react to customers very quickly, often providing meeting schedules within the same day. I also think our feature development is fast compared to other vendors.
For new installations, do you travel to the customers to install the software on-site?
Fabian: Yes, we usually do a lot of preparation remotely before we go to the customer so that we have the basis. Software installation is easy to do remotely but for data integration we often need contact with the yield engineers.
I think it’s good for the relationship with the customer to go there but not absolutely necessary. The advantages to going there are that we are faster and establish a rapport with the customer.
Patrick: For one of our fabless customers in Europe, the data integration was really smooth so we decided we could do a remote installation and it worked out really well.
Did you perform remote installations before Covid-19?
Fabian: We did, yes.
When you travel to the customer for an on-site installation, how long do you spend there?
Fabian: I think it’s usually a week…
Patrick: For one US semiconductor fab it was 10 days I think, but they have like 30 different test machines and data sources.
What makes customer support at DR YIELD unique?
Patrick: There’s a huge difference between customers like the one in the US I just mentioned, where every data source and every chip is important and other customers like a top 10 Asian microchip manufacturer that produces thousands of wafers a day and then it’s more about the yield trends, whether yield analysis is showing things to be getting better or worse…
Fabian: I think customer service is our USP (unique selling point) because we develop the software and we provide customer support. This is not usually the case for other data analytics companies. This results in quicker responses to customer requests. Other vendors may also have close contact for sales but they don’t have the software developers.
It’s our USP that the developers have contact with yield engineers and really understand the issues they face. We also have very flat hierarchies, meaning we can quickly make decisions and take action for our customers.
Patrick: I think that’s a big plus for small companies like ours because we don’t need another IT specialist to fix the data.
Meaning customers’ concerns don’t get passed internally from one department to another?
Fabian: Yes, we have an all-in-one solution.
And also update cycles are usually short which is also due to the close contact to the customers.
Fabian: Yes, we provide updates every few weeks, and in urgent cases we can provide an update within days.
That’s why our testing activities are so important so that we can remove any bugs before an update is rolled out.
That’s the perfect introduction to our next featured interview of colleagues from our testing department.
Thank you for your insights, Patrick and Fabian! We’ve enjoyed hearing about what you do!
About DR YIELD software & solutions GmbH
DR YIELD provides the leading-edge advanced analytics software YieldWatchDog for analysis and control of semiconductor manufacturing and test data. This enables semiconductor manufacturers as well as Fabless companies to improve important manufacturing dimensions such as equipment availability, throughput, operating costs and yield. Once installed YieldWatchDog allows you to get actionable insights into your data. For detailed information click here