Information Technology Dark Side

Struggles of a Self-Taught Coder

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How we used Slack to dramatically improve customer service response times

September 9th, 2015 · No Comments

For the last few weeks we’ve had a serious problem – we couldn’t keep up with customer support requests. Every day our lead time grew. When it hit SIX FREAKING DAYS I started to panic.

Fortunately, I’m a good panicker. I hired a truckload of really smart teenagers, put them through a crash course on TroopTrack, and they worked through the backlog. In a few days they were able to get the backlog back down to a level that wasn’t crushing just to think about.

We immediately started brainstorming ways to keep up. We had recently started using Slack for exception notification and we really liked it. It was far superior to email notification and it made it real obvious when things were going very wrong. We loved it. Someone suggested that we could do the same thing with help desk tickets. We have our own custom help desk app, so we can do whatever we want. I loved the idea and immediately started adding hooks between Slack and our help desk app.

Here’s a screenshot of a typical flow from Slack:

Slack_and_Information_Technology_Dark_Side_—_Struggles_of_a_Self-Taught_Coder

We have links back to actions in our helpdesk – a user can claim a ticket if they know the answer or they can escalate it if it requires development. Every time a user comments on a ticket the comment shows up in Slack.

There’s something about seeing user requests in real-time in our team communication tool that is very compelling. I find I want to click “Claim” before one of my intern does. And if it’s a serious bug, I am much more likely to hop on it right away when it comes in this way.

Integrating with Slack was super easy. I won’t describe how to do it here since the internets are full of examples. But I will say this – interjecting customer support requests into the heart of our virtualized team culture has been a total game changer for us. Where we were once lucky to respond in less than an hour even when we weren’t swamped it is now common for us to respond in five minutes or less. And that’s totally awesome.

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