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Public Mobile

Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

What’s the Developer’s Blog?

 

Last month, I reached out to you, our Community members, for your help to be testers of our new support enhancements. Once again, I’d like to extend a big THANK YOU to those who rose to the call and dedicated your precious time to help us make support better. Your candid and honest feedback really opened our eyes and helped to take the project to the next level. The team and I were overwhelmed by the number of eager volunteers we had and regretted that we didn’t have the chance to talk with everyone who expressed interest.

 

With that said, we’d love to include the rest of the Community members who weren’t picked for testing to be able to still get an insider’s look into the development of the new support forms as we ramp up for launch. That’s why I’m excited to share more about the development and work behind-the-scenes on our latest support enhancement (which I’ll now refer to as “smartform” as it’s less of a mouthful!) as we approach our anticipated launch date of late August. I’ll be using this Developers Blog as an opportunity to share more about my day-to-day work on this exciting project with you! Think of it almost like an editorial or a DVD commentary, if you will Smiley Wink

 

The journey we’ve been on with support

 

Did you know? In the early days of Public Mobile, support was done via e-mail. A small subscriber base and far less complicated business demands made personal responses via e-mail a simple yet effective model. Then, as our business changed, we transitioned to Community private messaging as our sole method of reaching out to our Moderator team to better organize our interactions with you, our customers. While this has worked well for us in our early stages, we’re increasingly feeling the pinch on all sides for a better way to do things. We have heard a number of you voice your frustrations with our support model and we especially heard this in April & May of this year when we had some technical issues that regrettably impacted some of your services. 

 

I recently had the chance to do a deep dive with our Moderator Team and observe them in action helping our customers. They’re truly a busy bunch and I assure you it’s not easy being a Mod! One thing I couldn’t help but notice was the sheer volume of messages they handle on a daily basis. When I looked at the types of interactions they were having, a lot of the times they couldn’t action a customer’s request right away because they didn’t have all the information they needed. When you think about it, how many extra messages are caused by:

  • The need to authenticate a customer
  • Requesting more information about the account
  • Requesting more information about the problem
  • Clarifying other details

When you consider that these easily create 3-4 responses, and that if each had a gap of a couple of hours in between, that's a lot of time added up! Unfortunately, with today’s open field private messaging, we’re not making things easy for you OR our Moderators.

 

Which made me think- what if the first message of each ticket was “the perfect first message”? I’m talking about a ticket with all the details laid out for the Moderator in which what needs to be done is clear as crystal. That’s how we landed at the concept of a form to create a ticket - by asking you the right questions to help you tell us your story, we set you up for success by guiding you through the ticket submission process. By aiming for this one and done approach, we hope to improve the timeliness of getting help and giving help in a simple but powerful way. 

 

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A teaser of what’s to come (nothing is final yet!)

 

The journey to improve support is a long one, but this is the first change of many that we will be co-building with you to help improve the support experience here at Public Mobile. We recognize there’s a lot of opportunity here for us to grow, and we plan to involve you in every step of the way.

 

What’s next?

 

In our second entry in the Developer’s blog, I’ll share more details about what testing was like, what our customers told us to work on, and what feedback we’ve focused our efforts on to be ready for launch by late August. Let me know what you thought of this little blog entry of mine, or what you’d like me to share in future entries!

 

Best,
Alan

Highlighted
Mayor / Maire

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

Consider me teased.

My confusion on all this comes from a change in requests a few months ago where it was said to simply send a pm and a verification would come back and then to carry on with the problem.

Now it's looking like the problem is being provided up front. Which kinda makes more sense.

This is a little like before where the deal was to send a pm with all the details you could want to write.

Still in all of this...some kind of acknowledgment of reception of the request I think is paramount. Not just successful completion of the forms either.

 

Thanks for trying to improve things. It's been awfully trying these last few months.

Mayor / Maire

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

@Alan_K thanks for pulling back the curtain a little, always enjoy inside glipmses.  But I've got to say, what you're describing sounds an awfully lot like a ticketting system.  There are quite a few decent off-the-shelf solutions (cloud or self-hosted) out there that are mature systems for support requests.  Hopefully your team is looking at adopting one of these rather than trying to roll your own.

 

EDIT: I should also say, I'm not sure if this qualifies as a Developer's blog, from what I've seen so far.  It's a tad light on technical details!


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Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

Hey @Alan_K, thanks for this update, we now know that proving all information up front is what is needed to do, because as @z10user4 remembers above, we ALREADY did this before, and authentication happen after explaining everything in a message to the moderators.

 

Way o go on reinventing the wheel, discovering fire, and wait for it, We’ve landed on the moon.

 

Yes, I’m disgusted with this effort and lack of response from the moderators, and frankly, updates from Public Mobile.  Can you at least update the current issues as to why vouchers are failing so often?

Town Hero / Héro de la Ville

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

Thanks for sharing insights into the development roadmap for this.

 

I have communicated extensively with mods over the past 1 1/2 years; literarlly HUNDREDS of communications back and forth, so I have a lot of personal experience with PM in a short matter of time.

 

If I may share a few pain points that hopefully will be addressed:
1. authentication: inconsistent in the past as to what method or what is required...even if I supply all the right info, I have been denied support-- and yes, for NO legitimate reason, asking me to re-authenticate based on info I ALREADY SUPPLIED, requiring starting over again or simply giving up. Strange but true. Hopefully the authentication process will be clear, consistent, and more objective and systematic.

 

2. follow through: many MANY times I have had inquires simply go unanswered. The most often reason is when I may have submitted another inquiry (or more) before the previous one was completed. This should NEVER happen... It is one thing to take a long time to reply due to volume but submitted inquiries should never not be answered. That suggests a process flow that is not capturing all sumbissions or provides a way for some to be skipped, overlooked, etc. Please make sure the process flow does not allow missing any submissions. (this relates to 5. closure below)

 

3. maintaining/tracking threads of conversation: This relates to 2. where mods either combine, or split up issues submitted, based on the whim of each mod. Each submitted inquiry should be treated as an independent whole. Along with that is the tracking of replies to the respective issue submitted. Often replies get lost, not being tied back to their original thread. I hope the process will have iron-clad tracking. Again, process should be similar to 2.

 

4. addressing only parts of an inquiry but not the whole: often true if more than one question/issue is submitted in one inquiry (oftern because they are related), only some, sometimes only one of the issues gets addressed, leaving the rest unanswered. 

 

You claim 2 hours turnarounds but FREQUENTLY turnarrounds are measured in DAYS. Now imagine an inquiry not authenticated properly, or only some of the issues addresssed but not all...this now turns the time to resolve a set of inquiries  into WEEKS of back and forth. In contrast, if this was handled via phone or chat, sometimes these can be resolve in MINUTES. (these are not exaggerations...I have encountered this type of scenario MULTIPLE times).

 

This is a TRAINING issue... please make sure mods take the time to READ AND REPLY to ALL the issues in a submission.

 

5. Closure: there should be a way to make sure that submissions are brought to a closure. This is especially true when an issue spans more than one shift in a day and multiple mods, each in turn, try to pick up where another left off (not always)... but then there is no further follow through, requiring an additional inquiry to follow-up. All this adds LOTS of time to resolve some of the simplest of issues. Please make sure there is a status 

 

6. visibility of status: the lack of visibility to the status of an inquiry is most frustrating as you do not know the stage it is in: 1. received? 2. active and being investigated? 3. follow-up received? 4. is it still open or was it closed? Without this information, this will naturally generate more traffic as requests get re-submitted or an update is requested. I hope there will be some form of visibility to the status.

 

7. Reference #: many of the problems above are made worse because there is no easy way to reference all related communications. So I hope there will be an easy referencing system that is communicated to the customer in some way. 

 

8. staffing: this is a challenging one but making sure there are adequate number of mods on hand, especially when promotions are coming or when broad system problems arise. 

 

9. escalation path: not all issues can be handled by mods. Mods should know how to handle escalations and not stonewall customers, especially when an issue arises BECAUSE of a mod. Please make sure there is a way to make sure that mods do not brush off issues, as is so easy to do behind e-mail messages. (again, should relate to 5. closure and 7. reference #). If a customer has a reference # it is far easier to pursue and esacalate legitimate issues, because there is a trail that can be referenced, so there is a measure of accountability.

 

Of course, what would alleviate the burden on customers and PM is the resolution of many outstanding bugs in the system, some dating long before I started. Hopefully there is good triage and effective staffing in first, capturing all the right issues, and second, resources to plan and effect change. Because one way or another, PM pays for it; either for the resources needed to fix a problem or by poor quality of service and reputation, both affecting the bottom line. This goes beyond the scope of this thread, but runs parallel and directly impacts customer support.

 

Though it should not matter, I have worked as a business process analyst for many years, leading large international teams, so I have lots of experience in this area. Though there are many ways to do the same thing, I hope the above touch-points are taken into account.

 

Thanks for taking the time to process feedback from the community.

 

 

Model Citizen / Citoyen Modèle

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

It always amazes me how people ask for help or support here or on other totally different forums and provide such incomplete detail. You get the problem loud and clear and all the threats but frequently not enough info to diagnose the problem without asking a bunch more questions. Sometimes a one or two sentence problem takes 6 more questions to get all the detail needed.

 

Terry

Town Hero / Héro de la Ville

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far


@AE_Collector wrote:

It always amazes me how people ask for help or support here or on other totally different forums and provide such incomple detail. You get the problem loud and clear and all the threats but never enough info to diagnose the problem without asking a bunch more questions. Sometimes a one or two sentence problem takes 6 more questions to get all the detail needed.

 

Terry


Yes, that is true. And it is equally true that even when you supply all the details a mod needs to execute, they turn around and ask for info that was already supplied. 

Oracle

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

I don't recall having any interaction with mods, where they asked for additional infomation on my part.  I believe much has do with how people ask for help, and how much incomplete information is provided, and how much troubleshooting is done on the forum first.  so many issues can be solved by community faster than with mods.  Hopefully this apect does not change.   who know maybe a tutorial (do's and dont's)  on how to ask mods questions would have been helpful. 

 

I really hope @Alan_K  and team took the  feedback to heart, will be able to tell once it rolls out, fingers crossed.  I still think, and agree with @srlawren,  that an off the shelf ticketing system possibly linked to selfserve would have been a much better system (with an option for people wthout accounts)  than what we tested, (unless things have changed). And it could have been implemeted much quicker and less costly. 

Town Hero / Héro de la Ville

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far

Probably. Whatever the system, it better have good consistency, control, and follow-through procedures or it will not be much better than what we have now.

Mayor / Maire

Re: Developers Blog: Introduction & the support enhancement journey thus far


@AE_Collector wrote:

It always amazes me how people ask for help or support here or on other totally different forums and provide such incomple detail. You get the problem loud and clear and all the threats but never enough info to diagnose the problem without asking a bunch more questions. Sometimes a one or two sentence problem takes 6 more questions to get all the detail needed.

 

Terry


There's just so many variables. Uncertainty or incorrect use of terminology and ESL being at the top. (or French as a second language for Lieux Smiley Happy ).

My phone working. Um. Ok. Do you mean not? Did it ever work? etc etc. Like extracting teeth out of a mouse.