Teambox was a cool open-source project management solution, with a bunch of friendly engineers (and me) helping people get things done. We even had time to advocate against email in a well known mobile conference in Barcelona.
Those were the good old days. Customer Support took maybe 20% of my working hours, and on average we would handle 10 to 15 support requests per week… in a busy week!
Customer Service Versus Development
But then Teambox started to grow really fast, and our userbase began generating more support requests. That’s always good news. However, launching Teambox 4 also proved to be challenging. First, it was a big technical leap and drastic UI redesign: some users just missed the old white-background look.
Second, other users expected some features that did not make the final cut, and generally speaking, transitioning to the new version proved to be harder than expected. This took its toll on customer service.
Turning individual requests into actionable data is one of the keys to understanding customer support. At that time, this meant thinking about how we dealt with tickets, followed up internally and provided solutions in a reasonable amount of time. As we grew, this is what our users expected from us.
But there was another internal, and culturally complex trend brewing: support and development were becoming two big silos. As a consequence, the two teams had completely different agendas. Our customer support team was the customer´s voice (but sometimes did not know our product well enough from a technical point of view) and our engineers sometimes found it difficult to listen to our users’ feedback.
The Beauty of a Simple Answer
Since joining the company, we have tried a few well known customer care solutions in the market. While most excelled at capturing requests, we still faced the challenge of how to escalate tickets internally and translate that to fixes and feature enhancements.
The answer was right in front of us. Since the beginning, our philosophy has been to offer a product we use in our own day-to-day work. Otherwise, how on earth could we sell something we didn’t know? In the end, our customers’ bottlenecks are our own bottlenecks.
Pablo, our founder, quickly realized this and decided to develop a new feature called Helpdesk, which basically allows you to get external email as tasks in your Teambox project. This has several advantages:
- It allows you to communicate with customers AND escalate internally, all in one single place and more efficiently.
- You don’t need to invest in two different solutions for helpdesk and internal task management.
- It is flexible enough to build different internal workflows adapted to your organization’s needs.
A New Support Era
Implementing Helpdesk marked the beginning of a big change – we built a real customer support process by using task lists to group tickets by week. Not only could we easily organize tasks, but it also helped us track the amount of requests we were processing per week and how quickly we resolved them. It also helped us visualize our backlog, a word that wasn’t part of our vocabulary two years ago.
This sparked many other feature and workflow improvements which made our lives a lot easier, and our customers happier. Tags became a huge differentiator and made helpdesk even more powerful: we could now prioritize tickets from 1 to 4, add context for our developers, and mark different steps in the support process.
Recently, we’ve taken a step forward and started building simple metrics using another highly flexible tool by our friends at Chartio, based on our Helpdesk week task lists and the tag system we’ve created, like so:
As of this post, we’ve processed hundreds of incoming emails successfully and are able to escalate issues much faster. It’s also easier to leverage support tickets into broader product discussions like product management and design.
Many other organizations have also implemented Helpdesk for very diverse purposes, from customer service to handling provider communications to processing internal requests from other departments. This is a feature we strongly believe in, because we’ve seen how our own workflows have improved.
Our plan is to make Helpdesk grow, adding more exciting features like auto-responder customization, customer service satisfaction metrics, and more.
Follow us at @Teambox_App for the latest updates.