Customer Spotlight: Brandt’s quest to transform their IT culture
Brandt has been a Freshdesk customer for over two years. Brandt uses Freshdesk to manage their IT team’s requests. In their own words,
“We came into Freshdesk with an average of 200 open tickets at any one time, and we were missing some SLAs. Now that number is as low as 85. With ticket execution and efficiency, we’ve improved 100%.”
Here’s the story of how they chose Freshdesk.
Texas-based Brandt collaborates with owners, developers, architects and general contractors in Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing services, design/build/assist projects, and overall building services (among others). Brandt offers full-service solutions to large and complex construction and management projects. From the tight precision required to operate a clean room or data center to the elegance and peaceful environment of an opera house or place of worship, Brandt handles projects for healthcare, business, hospitality, education, laboratories, and many other sectors.
With over 60 years of industry expertise, Brandt harnesses the combined power of more than 1,500 highly trained employees – industry leading craftsmen, licensed engineers, trained technicians, and technology experts. With offices in all major Texas cities and over $450 million in annual revenues, Brandt is the largest MEP services contractor in the state.
The Search for a New IT Helpdesk
Two years ago Brandt began considering a new IT helpdesk solution. At that time, they were using an older version of a legacy system, and were plagued with inefficiencies—everything from clumsy workflow to unstable email attachments. They needed something more sophisticated and at the same time, easier to use. Freshdesk was appealing because it was a hosted solution that didn’t add another layer of complexity for the team.
According to Robert Everett, Director of IT: “Freshdesk was clean and simple to use, responsive and capable of matching our growth curve. We ran parallel for a month, asked for feedback, and the team voted unanimously for Freshdesk. It was an easy transition.”
Revamping a Culture One Ticket at a Time
“One of the first things we tackled was improving agent response time. The way our ticketing worked before Freshdesk, as a group of tickets came into the system, we’d divide them equally among our agents. The problem with that model is that nobody can work on several tickets at one time. It breaks down the ‘first-come first-serve’ goal pretty quickly.
“Freshdesk allowed us to leave everything unassigned in the queue. Each agent can address only two tickets at a time—no more. They must complete those two, then go to the queue again and find the next two tickets that are either the oldest or the most urgent. Our SLAs improved right away because agents were working in the order received. That reduced the stress level tremendously.
Agents are no longer overwhelmed; instead, they get a steady series of wins.
“We were working to revamp our IT culture, and Freshdesk helped us make that happen. We’re big fans of some innovative lean manufacturing research that first appeared in the 1970s. One of the core ideas is that there is a benefit to using constraint to guide processes. The theory is that constraint creates focus—and focus creates velocity. The analogy is that if you stand 10 nails up on a piece of wood, you can’t nail them in simultaneously. To succeed with the task, you need the constraint of hammering the nails into the wood in priority order. It’s the same with workflow. Constraint enables progress.”
As a result of the these constraints to ticket distribution, Robert contends, agents are constantly succeeding, and always moving forward.
A Visual Innovation Adds Clarity to the Support View
Early on, meeting new employee requirements was a high-level pain point for Brandt IT. New hires needed IT’s attention for both equipment setup and a long list of other tasks. With the help of the Freshdesk API, Brandt was able to develop a visual solution — The IT Helpdesk Board.
“Now HR creates an email ‘onboarding ticket’. Freshdesk recognizes the descriptor and puts the ticket into a special deployment queue–we wrote a program that looks at the Freshdesk API, finds all the tickets in the deployment queue, and adds a colored ‘card’ to our LeanKit (Kanban-style) board for those tickets. For example, green cards represent onboarding tickets.”
Brian Freitas, Brandt’s Helpdesk Manager, explains: “These onboarding tickets have a longer cycle. We may be waiting for equipment or permissions. Click on the ticket, and we can link back to Freshdesk and see the actual ticket, bidirectionally—again, helping us focus attention on the right activities.”
Agents can read the board quickly, including seeing what’s been accomplished. Regular tasks remain white, so the effect of the visualization is an “instant read” of the tasks that are expected to take longer. Agents are able to quickly assess the ticket “lanes,” identify more urgent tickets, and monitor the onboarding tickets by status.
Brian sums up the effect of the change: “In the old days, if we onboarded 20 new people at once, it was chaos. This year, we onboarded 20 new hires at once, and it was just another Tuesday.”
Freshdesk’s Dispatch’r Rule Adds Value
“In addition, with Freshdesk’s Dispatch’r Rules, we were able to roll out tickets for specialty programs based on keying on a significant word.” says Everett. “Tickets mentioning these unique words went automatically to the developer, who would answer—but, in addition, was reminded to add information and clarity to the knowledge base. Over time, the knowledge base improved in quality and comprehensiveness so these tickets could be answered by Tier 1 agents—no escalation needed.”
Reporting on Ticket Timing Provides Valuable Insights
“We’ve been able to use reporting to show trends that inform our management activities. Is volume high? The team may need to execute a “ticket blitz” — when all project work stops to focus on bringing ticket volume down. Who’s performing well? Who has potential skill gaps? Is this person consistent? Is he spiking? Why the lull? It’s very revealing. A couple of agents may be consistently high performers, while another needs correction.
“Using Freshdesk reporting, we’ve even been able to adjust the timing of agents’ shifts more efficiently. We studied ticket traffic and time of day, and changed some agent work shifts based on those insights. That’s something we didn’t have clear visibility on until Freshdesk.” – Robert Everett
Enlightenment Through Freshdesk Gamification
“Gamification was a big plus for friendly agent competition. Agents aim for the ‘Quadfecta’, which means scoring highest for the month in all four of the measured categories. In 2015, we had 5 top winners who received a gift card. Freshdesk’s unique gamification features helped us identify where we needed to be more selective with hiring practices and verifying skills.”
Management Confidence Soars — By the Numbers
“We generally get an A+ grade—we’re providing measurable business value. Freshdesk has enabled us to create processes that improve our helpdesk environment — and those processes have smoothed out to the point that our CFO is no longer involved with the mundane details of IT. We came into Freshdesk with an average of 200 open tickets at any one time, and we were missing some SLAs. Now that number is as low as 85. With ticket execution and efficiency, we’ve improved 100%.”
Our management is happier with IT than any time in the last 5 years.
Function Follows Philosophy
Brandt’s IT team believes that ensuring the integrity of existing services is more important than building new. They focus on eradicating unplanned work in favor of supporting planned work.
“Tickets in our helpdesk queue are generally a form of unplanned work,” says Everett, “but Freshdesk allows us to quantify it, identify themes, and then execute a solution in a planned and controlled manner.
“Our agents are now happier and far more effective. Our business is getting better service and is faster than ever, and it’s gotten attention. Other support departments at Brandt are considering integrating their support requests through our system to provide a consistent experience to our users. Freshdesk is one of the two major tools we use to organize our work. It lets us take unpredictable incoming work, consider how to respond to it, and create a plan to deal with it. Freshdesk is providing the framework that permits us to apply our workflow philosophy in the real world. We can seamlessly adjust our system to mitigate any bottlenecks. That’s the part that was missing before Freshdesk.”