Chapter 16: Helpdesk

When they began their journey of implementing an ERP, Spindl was in a place where customer trust had begun falling. This was due to quality issues and lack of a customer facing team. One of the key issues here was mismanaged tracking of customer requests after purchase, which led to things falling through the cracks.

Now that they’ve made the move to an unified ERP system, Saf, Mel, and Lyn decide to approach customer service in a systematic manner to combat and avoid the issues they faced early on.

Why use ERP for project management?

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou (Poet)

Great customer support is a fundamental element of any successful business. No business can afford to have dissatisfactory customer care. Tracking your incoming customer requests and issues, responding to them quickly, and gaining insights on opportunities for improvement are all paramount to building a great working relationship with your customers. The helpdesk (or support) module of your ERP will help you exactly that.

Breaking down the workflow

Before we take a look at Spindl's support management system, let’s learn a few key elements of this module.

Issues

An incoming query from a customer. It’s usually done via email or from your website’s Contact section. It’s good practice to maintain a separate email (e.g., support@yourbusiness.com) to keep track of incoming customer requests. This even enables your ERP system to pick up emails and automatically turn them into support tickets.

Issue Type

Classifying issues into different categories (e.g., technical, functional, hardware, etc.) lets you easily assign the right employee to the support ticket. Each category is called an issue type.

Issue Priority

You can assign different priority levels to every support ticket. A basic system is Low -> Medium -> High -> Critical. Setting priorities helps the maintenance/support employees to tackle tickets in the right order. It also affects the Service Level Agreement (see below).

Service Level Agreement

A Service Level Agreement (or SLA) is a contract between the service provider (either internal or external) and the customer who has raised the support ticket. It is used to define the timeline in which the customer will receive the service, not how the service itself is delivered or provided. This timeline can vary depending on the priority level of the issue.

Maintenance

Serialization

We’ve already discussed what serial numbers are in the inventory module. Some ERP systems will allow you to keep track of customer issues linked with a specific serial number, along with warranty claims, schedule maintenance, track maintenance visits, etc.

Warranty Claim

A warranty claim is when a customer claims free repairs within the given warranty period of an item/service provided by your business.

Maintenance Visit

When an employee visits a customer’s premises for maintenance work of an item, it’s called a maintenance visit. Maintenance visits usually follow a maintenance schedule.

Maintenance Schedule

The maintenance schedule shows all upcoming maintenance visits either on your premises or your customers’ premises. It’s an important tool for any business that deals with machinery (especially those with a lot of moving parts!).

Support Reports

Minutes to First Response for Issues

This report displays day-wise information about the number of issues that have been reported between the selected dates. It also includes the minutes to first respond between all issues.

Setting up a workflow

Lyn helps the team at Spindl create a fairly straightforward customer support system using their ERP. Here’s how.

  1. Whenever a customer sends a message to Spindl’s support email address or using their contact page, the system automatically creates a support ticket.
  2. The support ticket is evaluated by the team and assigned a priority, based on which the SLA is sent out to the customer.
  3. Depending on the issue type, the appropriate employee takes on the issue and does what they can to help resolve it.
  4. Every month, they assess the different support tickets and see what kind of issues people are having. They use this data to further better their services.