Having a multi-talented, cross-functional team is often seen as an ideal team composition, opening up many different opportunities for work and services that a company can offer. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no challenges presented by this situation. In fact, by providing various different services, there are often multiple workflows introduced to support each one. This can be tricky to manage, and sometimes this administrative headache can become more onerous than the work itself. For companies that provide services to other organizations, this can be especially messy when pricing and communications come into play. Not only does the work need to be triaged, tracked, and managed internally, but processes need to be created for taking in requests and inquiries. This often results in disjointed workflows across multiple tools that require manual intervention. One company in the creative space had had enough with their current setup and came to us seeking an answer to their workflow challenges.
Our client is a design and development company that fulfills graphic design, web design, and front-end development requests from their clients according to various subscription plans. These subscription plans limit how many simultaneous requests can be worked on at the same time, and can be updated and changed as clients’ needs change. Our client was previously using two separate pieces of software to take in requests as well as manage the work for their teams, but were looking to bring these two functionalities together in a single tool. Their previous tool also had no concept of priority, and so prioritization was often lost moving between tools. Due to their specific workflows, they were interested in any opportunities for automation and ways to integrate their pricing plans’ details into their workflows.
Seamlessly integrating requests with tasks through the customer portal
One of our client’s challenges is that they handle a wide variety of different requests, and each of these has subtle differences in their requirements. At one point, they identified 20 different types of requests that their team works on, and so having a single form to take in requests did not make sense for them. Luckily for our client, OneDesk not only can support up to 30 different ticket types, but also separate webforms that can be customized for taking in work of each type. These webforms are part of our customer portal, which is a separate application that works seamlessly with our project management and helpdesk applications – any requests logged here directly enter the OneDesk system and can be worked on and interacted with like any other requests that come in through e-mail or manual submission by the internal team. As the name implies, the customer portal is where clients and customers can log in, submit requests, and view the current status of their previous requests. Visibility and access can be tuned to even allow customers from the same company to view each other’s requests, reducing the possibility of duplication. Customizable in its branding and colours, the customer portal becomes the go-to place for clients to view information about their requests and interact directly with our client’s team members fulfilling these requests.
Centralizing and indexing information with a knowledge base
New and previously logged requests are not the only thing clients can access in the customer portal. Our client identified needing a way to easily help their clients find their subscription and billing information. Offering this capability alongside the ability to view their current requests seemed like the logical choice for creating a full view of things. The solution we recommended for our client was our knowledge base feature, which integrates directly into our customer portal. Any tickets that our client writes up have the option to be published as a knowledge base article. These articles are then displayed in the customer portal and are accessible to all clients. This is an ideal location to outline general subscription information, and since a knowledge base article has all of a standard task’s editing capabilities, our client can then link to an external website where their clients can log in and view their specific subscription plan details.
Organizing work for easy triaging and assignment
OneDesk uses a flexible hierarchical structure for organizing work. It is up to our client to define this hierarchy, but our recommendation is to use portfolios or projects to represent each of their clients. From there, folders can be created to further organize individual requests coming in. These requests are generally captured as tickets or tasks, and contain all of the information necessary to understand the work needed to happen, from descriptions to priorities to relevant attachments. Our client’s workflow for turning requests into work tasks requires there be a person triaging work and assigning it to the right person. To ensure there is continuity in the assets produced, our client has to assign all work for a given company to the same person on their team. This extra step of decision-making by the person triaging can introduce some opportunities for error and confusion. One way to mitigate this is to use OneDesk’s concept of teams and permissions. By dividing and assigning their team members into OneDesk’s teams, they can then set up permissions to limit what projects or portfolios they have access to. Since projects and portfolios would represent work specific to a client, any incoming work can be assigned to the appropriate team.
Streamlining workflows with simple and straightforward automations
Building on our client’s workflow for assigning out tasks, we identified some ways in which OneDesk’s automations can bring more efficiencies. The way in which automations are set up in OneDesk is around workflow triggers kicking off an action based on specific criteria being met. In combination with custom fields, workflow automations can be quite powerful. One example would be to create a custom field on each user in the OneDesk system to capture their particular skillsets. As their team’s talents range from graphic design to software development, it is necessary to detail this as it then opens up possibilities for automating assignment of work. By still adhering to the OneDesk concept of teams for grouping team members, workflow automations can be set up to assign a task to people on a particular team with a certain skillset. Suddenly, triaging incoming requests requires a lot less overhead. Another example of where workflow automations can increase efficiency is in the automatic closing of completed tasks. Generally in most service work, the last step before closing out a request is final sign-off or confirmation from the client that the work is correct and to their needs. By setting certain communication expectations with their clients, our client is able to automatically close out tasks based on a single word or phrase in the communications from their clients. This can save a lot of time for the project managers looking for accurate statuses of work so they can understand what is the next priority as per the subscription plan requirements.
Providing services to clients and customers is a great business model that capitalizes on the wealth of talents and skills a company has. Although it can also create complicated workflows, by using OneDesk to bring customer communications and internal work management together, a lot of the complexities can be simplified and streamlined. Having one unified place to handle both sides of service work means there’s only one point of reference for external clients and team members alike. It also means that expectations remain crystal clear with the visibility offered through our customer portal. With automations and customizability, OneDesk can capture and adapt to whatever workflows our client defines, bringing optimizations and efficiency gains along the way.