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Focus on the Fab: Quick and Effective Action by KLA CSEs

Jun 20, 2023 4 min read

KLA’s customer support engineers (CSEs) Mike Trojillo in the U.S. and Claire Corrigan in Ireland share a determination to quickly and effectively diagnose and repair tools at semiconductor manufacturing sites and maintain the availability and performance of their equipment.

“Our KLA CSEs communicate candidly with customers, mindful of the pressures they face to resume operations, and collaborate closely with our technical support engineers (TSEs) on difficult issues to speed recovery of their systems,” says Kevin Mille, senior director, global service operations, KLA. “Based on feedback from our team members and our customers, Claire and Mike are exemplary of this outstanding work ethic.”

Claire Corrigan, Ireland

“If everything’s OK, I don’t hear from customers.”

Claire Corrigan, KLA customer support engineer, Ireland

But when something is wrong and Claire does get that call, she knows the customer is losing money because a tool is down and must be put back into service.

Engineers at customer locations are seeking information because they need to report on a machine-down situation to managers, so Claire walks in with a sense of mission and empathy. “It’s important to give them information so they’re not on the spot during follow-on meetings with plant management. That’s basically being friendly, and it helps build trust.”

Even when Claire doesn’t have an immediate solution, it’s important for customers to know there’s a plan and that the person KLA sent to their site will do something to get their production line moving.

“I always communicate honestly and positively. They’re people with deadlines, too, and just need to know when the issue will be solved so they can resume manufacturing activities.”

Most technical problems aren’t immediately obvious, which often prompts the question, “Well, that didn’t work. What will you do next?”

Spending a week trying to resolve a complicated problem by herself is not an option. After sequential troubleshooting to rule out causes, Claire often escalates a complex problem by drawing from a vast pool of knowledge among KLA’s TSEs. In keeping with her quest to be candid and work with urgency, Claire tells customers she is contacting colleagues for assistance.

“Being responsive is key, and as I call a TSE, I can honestly say to customers that we’re working to fix the issue to get their line running again,” she says.

Claire came to KLA in 2019, five years after earning her engineering degree at Dublin City University and work experience at other companies. Her success hasn’t been without stigmas. Once, a teacher told Claire that most women don’t work with hand-tools – and that wasn’t very long ago, she stresses.

“Nobody on the KLA team has treated me differently because I’m a woman – there’s no reason to,” she says. “To other women, I say there’s no job out there you shouldn’t apply for. Don’t limit your options because of your gender.”

Mike Trojillo, United States

Ask Mike Trojillo about a time he faced a difficult challenge and he’ll recall arriving in Japan to resolve an image issue on a tool. The customer gave the KLA team a hard deadline: they needed the tool back online in four days or less.

Mike, a TSE at the time, worked with the customer along with KLA sales and service managers and a CSE to get the tool running.

“I troubleshot the system and we wound up staying in the fab for 24 hours to perform all recovery calibrations. We had the system back up for the customer just before our 9 a.m. deadline.”

Mike Trojillo, KLA customer support engineer, United States

Now a CSE, Mike stays focused on recovering customer equipment as soon as possible – but always with an eye on getting the job done right the first time. Communication is key: He listens closely to customers to pick up clues on issues with their tools. If he doesn’t know offhand what is causing a problem, he tells them that he will conduct a thorough check of the system.

“If it’s a new issue, I try to find the root cause so we can attempt to resolve the situation instead of having the system go back down in the future, which avoids frustration both for the customer and the CSE,” Mike says. “Although it’s often possible to restart a tool ‘too fast,’ I want to figure out why something is happening so customers don’t have that same issue again. It also helps that I’m a pessimist and never feel pressure because I approach each job with confidence but also work with the expectation of a possible worst-case scenario.”

An electronics technology engineer, Mike went to work for a multinational telecommunications and data networking company after college and became proficient with a variety of electronic devices. He joined KLA in 2000, spending nearly a year in manufacturing before working as a TSE for about 10 years, explaining, “This is when I learned to understand customer needs and expectations, and that there’s not a right or wrong way for CSEs to engage with them.”

“Some tool owners simply want the tool back up quickly while others want to understand the issue and want to know how we can prevent it from happening in the future. A good CSE will pick up on each customer’s priorities.”

While at a customer facility, he’s honest about the issues and updates them clearly throughout the day and, to deliver a positive customer experience, carefully under promises and overdelivers. For really challenging issues, TSEs and fellow CSEs are a phone call away. Contact our technical support services team here.

Read more stories about KLA’s CSEs here.

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