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12.13.16 Customer Service

Customer Support Made Simple — JIRA Service Desk by Atlassian Helps Companies Produce Happy Customers

By: Adam West

The Crunch: Paving the way for excellent customer experiences, Atlassian produced JIRA Service Desk during one of its famed 24-hour hackathons it calls a ShipIt. Users of its development software were already modifying JIRA Software in order to use it for customer support, so Atlassian responded by creating Service Desk because of the cohesiveness and effectiveness that comes with keeping dev and support on the same platform. Atlassian’s clients have kept customers pleased and reduced the load on IT with a self-service portal that uses machine learning to answer customer questions before they become tickets. JIRA Service Desk helps customer support stay organized with a highly visual platform and robust reporting that keeps employees efficient and focused on high-priority issues.

In retail, customer support revolves around making sure a company provides buyers with a great experience, including responding to questions and concerns that need to be addressed before they consider making a purchase. At that juncture, it’s up to customer support to prevent cart abandonment.

Delve below the surface and you’ll find companies like Atlassian ensuring that customer support teams have the tools to remain efficient and keep shoppers on track to buy.

A Business Insider article reported that 86 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, which puts into perspective the importance of strong customer service.

Vistaprint, a $1 billion+ company that specializes in printing marketing materials, was in desperate need of replacing its legacy service desk and support ticket solution. The original system had an outdated user interface that left customers frustrated and employees skipping the support ticket process altogether, preferring to send emails or make phone calls.

Developers at Vistaprint were already familiar with JIRA Software, Atlassian’s popular agile development tool, and decided to try JIRA Service Desk. Vistaprint assigned two support teams to beta test the product. After two weeks of positive feedback that included immediate benefits, such as better reporting, better visibility into service level agreements (SLA), and faster turnaround time on tickets, Vistaprint went all in on JIRA Service Desk.

Five weeks later, Vistaprint’s 22 global offices, 4,000-plus employees, and millions of customers were seeing the benefits of the new solution.

Portrait of Sid Suri, Vice President of Marketing for JIRA Service Desk at Atlassian

Sid Suri, Vice President of Marketing for JIRA Service Desk at Atlassian, explained the benefits companies are seeing when making the switch to JIRA Service Desk.

“If you think about how long service desks and support tools took to implement in prior iterations of service desk software, it was years, and that was for one location,” said Sid Suri, Vice President of Marketing for JIRA Service Desk at Atlassian. “Vistaprint was able to get its entire operation onto JIRA Service Desk in a very short amount of time and that’s fairly typical with our product. It works out of the box, it does what you need it to do, and you can customize it, but you really don’t need to for most use cases.”

As anyone in customer support can tell you, many of the issues they encounter involve simple fixes. JIRA Service Desk cuts down on tickets with an efficient self-service portal that helps users with troubleshooting.

For the issues that are filed, JIRA Service Desk provides a visual organizational system that prioritizes tickets so end users know which problems agents are working on. And with robust built-in reporting, management teams can identify peak times and see which agents are meeting their SLAs.

The Customer-Inspired, Hackathon-Winning Project that Became JIRA Service Desk

One of Atlassian’s claims to fame is a quarterly ritual it calls ShipIt, which are hackathons that allow employees to get creative, assemble teams, eat pizza, and work on a project for 24 hours in all six of its global offices (Sydney; Amsterdam; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; Manila, Philippines; and Yokohama, Japan).

One of the biggest success stories to come out of Atlassian’s ShipIt is JIRA Service Desk, which was inspired by customer feedback. Atlassian surveyed its customers and found that around 40% had already been using JIRA to add customer service functionality.

Seeing the value of user support and development integration, a group of ShipIt teammates including Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar, collaborated to create a portal for JIRA customers.

“A handful of folks looked at that survey and said, ‘For the next ShipIt, we want to build a really simple portal on top of the JIRA platform,’” Sid said. “The customer portal they created is where an end user can go in and say, ‘Hey, I have a problem and I need some help.”

Within 24 hours, the group not only won the bragging rights that come with winning ShipIt, but they created a product that has improved customer support for more than 20,000 teams worldwide.

Better Together: JIRA Service Desk Integrates with Other Tools to Provide Real-Time Solutions

The appeal of using JIRA Service Desk on top of Atlassian’s development product, JIRA Software, is that it yields faster iteration and more revenue. Having both development and support on the same platform is valuable because it’s easier to communicate and make changes faster when both customer support agents and developers are seeing issues the same way.

“If you think about what’s going on in the industry today, you have all these customer support applications out there, and if they’re connected to anything, they’re connected to marketing systems and sales systems,” Sid said. “They’re not actually connected to the software they’re supporting. Customer support agents are giving information to the customer, but they don’t have visibility to what’s going on in an automated fashion.”

Before cloud-based software became the norm, customer support would hear about an issue and report it to developers, and the problem would be addressed in the next release, which could be months away.

“With the advent of software as a service (SaaS), what we’ve seen is that link between developers and customer support agents is way more important now than it’s ever been before,” Sid said. “Part of the reason is that in the cloud, the velocity of change is much faster. You can fix things right away. When the software is coming through the browser, a developer can make an update, and the customer can see it right away.”

Growth hacking is a popular strategy for optimizing sales that uses rapid experimentation to see how changes to a website affect business. If you visit Amazon’s website 10 times a day, you might see 10 different versions of a landing page. That’s because developers are constantly looking at how minor tweaks affect a company’s bottom line.

“There’s constant iteration going on in online retail, and there is a lot of customer hand-holding required,” Sid said. “You’ve got to have a way to capture their feedback, see where they’re having trouble, provide help and input at the point of need, and then feed that back to your developers so that they’re iterating fast. The product might change by the time the next user comes on five minutes later, rather than a day later. And the faster you can learn and adapt, the more revenue.”

Collaboration is a popular theme at Atlassian, and two of its other products go a long way in keeping employees working together. Confluence, which also has a mobile app, is a platform used by more than 22,000 teams to keep information organized in one place. On Confluence, employees can create the FAQ articles that enable the self-service process by answering any question a customer might come up with. Atlassian also offers HipChat, which allows employees to conduct group or private chats and share files from anywhere.

Atlassian Harnesses Machine Learning to Improve Self-Service Customer Support

Support teams tend to receive time-consuming calls from consumers who can’t find answers to their questions on a website. Even sites with thorough FAQs on virtually any problem will have some customers scratching their heads.

“Maybe a user asks, ‘How do I bring back these shoes?’” Sid said. “That phrase doesn’t have the word ‘return’ in it. If you just do a keyword search, you might have the greatest FAQ in the world on returning products, but this user decided not to use the word ‘return’ so they might not find that FAQ on a straight search.”

Atlassian’s platform is constantly looking to make stronger word associations to improve search results. By watching what the user does next, the software starts to make connections from what a user initially typed in and where they end up getting help. If the aforementioned user ends up on an FAQ for processing returns, the system remembers this and starts to correlate the words “bring back” and “return.”

Through this machine learning, the next customer who uses the words “bring back” in a query will immediately be directed to the area of the site that explains the return process.

“It is a bit of an art and a science to how the user is going to phrase a question and making sure you have an answer that you can surface very quickly to help satisfy their needs so they don’t get frustrated and start to search for a phone number,” Sid said.

The line between support and sales is shrinking as the customer experience becomes more important to consumers. Customers are quick to abandon shopping carts if they become frustrated while seeking answers.

Giving Businesses the Tools Needed to Keep Customers Happy

Self-service has been a big win for the customer service industry because it cuts down on tickets and lowers costs for companies with fewer calls. And the best part is that many customers would rather help themselves.

“Most people, especially below a certain age, vastly prefer self-service over picking up the phone,” Sid said.

Since switching to JIRA Service Desk, Vistaprint’s customer support has become more efficient thanks to built-in reporting that prioritizes the most important issues.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is that the customer portal is very straightforward and easy to use,” said Dave Sonderling, Technical Manager of Internal Tools at Vistaprint. “They like the emails from JIRA Service Desk, and that they can respond. The Service Desk automatically adds their comment and sends it back to the person working on it. That’s really great for them.”

JIRA Service Desk grew from a single 24-hour hackathon, and with ShipIt occurring four times a year, we can look forward to even more innovation from Atlassian.