INDUSTRY

Education

HEADQUARTERS

United Kingdom

About LAMDA

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) was founded in 1861 and is the oldest and most prestigious drama school in the UK. With a strong belief in the transformative power of the performing arts, LAMDA offers exceptional training to actors, technicians, stage managers and directors. Some of the school’s most notable alumni include Richard Harris, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Lithgow and Benedict Cumberbatch, who now serves as the President of the institution. 

In addition to teaching acting and performing arts, LAMDA is also a regulated awarding organization. It offers courses and examinations in communication, performance and musical theatre and awards qualifications that are globally recognized. We spoke to Andy Pitts, Head of Examinations and Responsible Officer at LAMDA, to understand how the Examinations department rose to the challenges of COVID-19 and continues to offer reliable customer support with Freshdesk. 


Using Freshdesk to align a range of queries 

On the examinations side of the organization, LAMDA has three main customer groups:

  • Teachers and parents who have questions about the syllabus or who want to book an examination date on behalf of students. While a majority of students tend to be based in the UK, LAMDA also has a growing presence in countries like China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
  • Over 185 independent examiners around the world who conduct the examinations.
  • LAMDA representatives who organize a number of sessions on behalf of the school. 

Queries from each customer group come in as tickets through Freshdesk. The customer service team then reviews each ticket and either answers the query or routes it to the concerned department. Speaking about the benefits of this system, Andy says, “Freshdesk helps us be a better customer-facing team and answer our customer queries as quick as possible. We have fixed SLAs for tickets and Freshdesk sends reminders to our agents if they haven’t responded to a ticket within the SLA.”

 

Hanging up on phone-based support

In the pre-COVID days, LAMDA allowed customers to raise queries through tickets on the website or through phone calls. However, once the lockdown was enforced, the team had to shift to remote work practically overnight and turn off phone support. With only one support channel open, the number of tickets coming in through Freshdesk increased exponentially. To add to this, LAMDA also had to close down offline examination centres and open up online assessments. Predictably, this led to a lot of incoming queries around the new examination format and test requirements. But while the number of customer queries increased, the size of the customer service team reduced as a few staff members had to be put on furlough due to the pandemic. This meant that each individual agent now had to handle a far greater number of tickets. 

Despite the increased pressure, however, the team was able to seamlessly manage the higher numbers with Freshdesk. In fact, Andy observed that tickets were proving to be a lot more efficient than phone calls. “In most cases, when a customer called us the right person wouldn’t pick up the call. The customer would often get frustrated because they’re waiting on the line with someone who isn’t equipped to answer their question. With Freshdesk, on the other hand, a ticket is always routed to the right department. This helps us ensure that the customer gets their query resolved quickly and accurately every time.”

Following the success of the dedicated ticket-based system, LAMDA plans to add a ‘Call Back’ feature on the website in an effort to taper off incoming customer calls. In this way, even if customers do prefer a phone call, they can request it in the form of a ticket that comes through Freshdesk. Agents can then coordinate with the concerned department to put the customer in touch with the right person on a call. 

 

Ensuring continuity in quality of customer service

COVID-19 forced LAMDA to completely adapt its examination operations and internal team structure. But throughout this difficult period, the support team continued to deliver stellar customer support. Andy credits three main aspects of Freshdesk for their success:

  • Merging tickets: LAMDA’s customers often follow up on their tickets, but do not always use the original ticket number to do so. The ‘Merge Tickets’ feature on Freshdesk allows the team to merge related queries from a customer into a single ticket. This helps avoid duplication. Andy also plans on using the ‘Link Tickets’ feature to answer similar queries from multiple customer in one go.
  • Streamlined communication: As every interaction with a customer is tracked, the team can view the entire history of a ticket. “This helps us avoid contradicting or repeating what was earlier communicated to the customer. It also gives us a clearer audit trail,” says Andy. 
  • Internal collaboration: At LAMDA, there are often multiple departments involved in resolving a ticket, from Operations to Finance. Using Freshdesk, the support team can forward tickets internally or mark a team member on the thread to successfully solve the query. This has significantly brought down the average resolution time of a ticket.

As the team slowly returns to the office, Andy plans to focus his attention on improving the quality of support even further. “I am going to look at the reports and analytics on Freshdesk closer to understand how quickly we respond to customers on an average and what areas we can improve upon,” he says. Another important project in the pipeline is building a comprehensive knowledge base to answer frequently asked questions. As Andy rightly predicts, this resource will most likely reduce the amount of incoming tickets and improve the team’s productivity.

 

Enabling growth through a scalable solution

As the dust finally begins to settle on the COVID-19 surge, the customer support team at LAMDA has the chance to take a step back and focus on growth. “We are developing our exams database to increase efficiency and enable us to reach our pre-COVID growth rate,” says Andy. With a reliable support solution as its backbone, LAMDA can take on ambitious targets and be assured that it will be able to effortlessly manage the growing demand. 

“Freshdesk gives us the confidence to be able to grow. We don’t have to worry about managing increasing volumes of queries because the solution we have is scalable. Even during the busiest of times, our team is calm and everything is manageable.”

Andy Pitts

Head of Examinations and Responsible Officer

LAMDA