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.
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.
Before Freshdesk, Brandt had a system where groups of tickets constantly flowed into the support desk. Although, tickets were distributed equally among the agents, the sheer numbers of tickets assigned to agents at any time was overwhelming. Agents could not address multiple tickets and meet the ‘first come, first served’ model of support. 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.
"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."
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.
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."
"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."
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
"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."
"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.
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."
attributed directly to Freshdesk improvements25%