by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 30 June 2011
We have been looking at customer support and help desk applications for some time now. However, most such solutions are pre-configured in terms of screens. However, this week we will look at a solution that enables you to customize screens. This week we will look at a different kind of solution.
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. And, so it was with PhaseWare. It's founders, due to prior experience, discovered a niche in the SMB market that was not being fulfilled. They saw the need for a customer support and service software solution that had customization and automation. When they didn't find one, they developed one. And, so PhaseWare was born..
SO, WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY DO?
According to the folks at PhaseWare, it enables companies to better manage their business processes, reduce ooperational expenses and increase effectiveness and quality of customer service. In simple words, this means that PhaseWare enables you to customize or tweak your business processes based on customer feedback. In addition, because it is a cloud-based solution, you do not have buy expensive on-premise software and invest in training for your support professionals. Instead, you can be up and running in less than a day. What's more, a connected world requires support through multiple channels, including email. According to the folks at PhaseWare, their solution enables you to do this and more. "We distinguish ourselves in the power we give to small businesses as well as our great customer service," says Jody Pellerin, marketing director at PhaseWare. She says other cloud-based software offer piecemeal solutions to problems; their software offers a "comprehensive and automated solution that makes customer support easier." She says their software works especially well with B2B solutions. "Complex products require complex support," she says. And, this, according to her, is where PhaseWare comes in.
HOW DOES IT DO WHAT IT DOES?
The PhaseWare solution suite is a group of applications that work in tandem with each other. The folks at PhaseWare call this a life cycle. The core application, of course, is the PhaseWare Tracker. The Tracker comes in two flavors: an on-premise solution and Tracker OnDemand - a cloud-based solution. Pellerin says that 80 percent of their solution opt for the latter because it simplifies support and, also, enables businesses to be up and running within a day.
Regardless of the format you choose, the application integrates all phases of Service desk operations including managing the service desk ticketing life cycle and maintaining your business process workflow. This application includes help desk management data fields and the ability to customize data field user menus as defined by you. Journal entries are used for logging and you can log all entries and correspondence between customers and service desk professionals using this solution.
The second part of the PhaseWare solution suite is the PhaseWare Event Engine, which is an automation tool. So, you can create and manage alerts and tweak your workflows to change your service desk processes based on customer feedback and responses.
The third (and my favorite part) of the solution suite is the Self Service Center. As the name implies, the Center is a web-based user portal that helps connect your employees and customers. This means that customers, as well as employees, can login to the portal and manage information relating to their service tickets. What's more, customers can also add to the knowledge base. "The Self-Service solution is a community-based solution with notification," says Pellerin.
Tracker on Demand combined with the strong capabilities of their Self-Service Centre offers a web portal for technicians and service professionals to remotely manage customers operations They also offer field support functionality away from a computer through the solution Tracker Mobile for smartphone.
.As I mentioned earlier, deployment and installation of each solution is different. While the former requires more time (because it involves setting up machines and porting of critical data), the latter enables you to be up and running within a day. The company provides support and online help during both installations. "It all depends on the prework and customer data," says Pellerin.
According to Pellerin, the company is working on tight-knit integration with Microsoft Outlook that will enable users to import their tickets directly from Outlook. In the works also is integration for resale businesses. This integration will enable businesses to import or export tickets from legacy or partner systems.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The folks at PhaseWare seem to have got it right on the first count. The interface for PhaseWare Tracker is a simple three panel interface. While the upper row enables you to enter information relating to a ticket, the bottom column helps you enter a detailed description relating to the ticket. In addition, you can play around with the template and customize your interface based on your preferences. There is also a global navigation menu at the top, where you can switch between screens and, also, search for tickets. The screen can also be customized for the journal entries to appear as a tab or as part of the screen.
SUPPORTING YOUR HELP DESK SYSTEM
For a company that professes to help you with your customer support system, they seem to have done a great job with their support. Right off the bat, their website states that they use one of their own products to provide customer support. That, in itself, should be a good test for you to know whether they are reliable or not! They offer three channels of support: web, email, and phone. Although I could not try out all three, I recommend you try one of them to get a feel for their product and responsiveness. I did go through their videos and found them pretty helpful.
IS IT FOR YOU?
Yes, it is. In addition to being a cost-effective solution, PhaseWare is scalable as well. This means that you can increase or decrease your support levels based on responses and your business needs. What more could one want!