Today’s health-care patients may be more comfortable using technology to stay in touch with clinicians than the phone or an in-person visit—so long as they’re getting the information they need to manage their well-being. That’s the premise of 83bar, an Austin, Texas, company that locates, educates and navigates highly qualified, high-intent patients for pharmaceutical, clinical trial and medical device companies. With an app and a clinician-staffed rapid-response contact center, 83bar can connect directly with patients to assess their care needs and their suitability for clinical trials or commercial device, diagnostic or treatment solutions.
The 110 contact-center agents working for 83bar, both in Austin and remotely, are a diverse set of clinicians—including nurses, physiotherapists and speech pathologists—who can speak authoritatively and empathetically to patients. The agents help inform and educate new patients via initial outreach and consultations, as well as counsel and support existing patients. Agents also play a vital role in collecting feedback from patients and campaigns on how well the 83bar app is performing.
83bar began using Slack—a digital place where work flows between people, systems, partners and customers—in 2013, shortly after the company launched. Initially, 83bar’s contact center was based solely in Austin; as the company rapidly expanded and took on remote agents, it adopted Slack to provide a digital location where everyone could connect, regardless of where they worked. In those early days, help requests were sent via direct messages and across various channels—digital spaces for collaborating—in Slack. But as the company grew, that process didn’t help N’Lou Figueras, 83bar’s business systems analyst, track and support the contact center, marketing automation and client activation hubs as part of 83bar’s proprietary software.
To help patients navigate the app while also properly recording data in 83bar’s internal systems, the company needed fast, trackable solutions for sharing support tickets with 83bar engineers. Halp, the help desk solution from Atlassian, integrates with Slack and gets agents the assistance they need so they can focus on patient care.
Halp takes full advantage of Slack’s functionality to:
- Automate workflows based on fields, forms, keywords, replies and channels
- Produce reporting on ticket volume, response/resolution times and agent performance
- Track ticket progress and update end users and agents directly in Slack
- Manage tickets submitted via email and chat in one centralized place
- Include relevant experts or need-to-know stakeholders on tickets
“People figured out Halp from the first day they started using it. We didn’t even offer onboarding for it because it integrates so holistically with Slack.”
Real-time performance insights deliver faster, better support
Figueras manages contact center technology with an eye toward improving the user experience for agents and developers. If agents need to ask for help and flag problems, Figueras wants that process to go as quickly and smoothly as possible—without requiring that agents drop in and out of complicated applications.
“It’s really important that we make the support experience as easy as we can,” Figueras says. “It’s also important that these phone calls don’t get interrupted by technology because so much of the experience relies on empathy and building rapport with patients.”
Without transparency into how many tickets were being handled or what the common issues were, Figueras and her team had trouble tracking how well they were serving agents. “We were copying and pasting the help requests from Slack into a Google Sheet to track everything,” she says. “Without a system for managing the requests, it was easy to miss stuff.”
The ad hoc method of managing support requests was generating nearly 1,000 tickets every month and slowing down responses to about a day and a half. “Our ad hoc process wasn’t working,” Figueras recalls. “I would have to allot time every month to check on all the tickets that had piled up.”
Figueras experimented with other help desk solutions, but adoption was a challenge. Most of the products were stand-alone systems, which meant agents would have to learn another solution and hop out of Slack where they’re already communicating about their issues.
Easy-to-use ticketing, with no onboarding time needed
As she considered help desk solutions, one thought kept cycling through Figueras’s head:
“We need something that integrates with Slack.” An integrated product would keep agents in the same digital place where they were connected to everyone else, regardless of where they worked.
When she came across Halp, Figueras decided it fit all the needs of the 83bar help desk: ease of use, integration with Slack, ticket tracking and reporting to shine a light on help center performance. Agents don’t have to switch context in the midst of a busy workflow, so they can stay focused on the patients they’re serving.
“People figured out Halp from the first day they started using it,” Figueras says. “We didn’t even offer onboarding for it because it integrates so holistically with Slack.”
When agents add a ticket emoji to a support request, it creates a new Halp ticket for 83bar developers and assigns the ticket to Figueras. In addition, anyone can add themselves as a follower on the ticket by using the question mark emoji.
“Slack and Halp work so well together,” says Figueras. “We set up
#app-issues, a channel for our call center agents, where everything they post creates a ticket automatically. Since I have Halp set up to respond in-channel, it’s just like a regular conversation in Slack. Some of the agents don’t even realize they’re using a ticketing system.”
Halp is also used in individual customer channels in Slack Connect to respond to 83bar customer questions. Figueras is working with 83bar’s account management and business intelligence analyst teams to use Halp in their channels when they have questions about 83bar’s solution or internal apps.
“Slack and Halp work so well together. Since I have Halp set up to respond in-channel, it’s just like a regular conversation in Slack. Some of the agents don’t even realize they’re using a ticketing system.”
Less time trying to get answers, more time for patients
Using Halp, the average time for responding to agent tickets has been reduced from as much as a day and a half to just one hour. In addition, Figueras estimates that since Halp is so easy to use within Slack and hasn’t required extensive user training, she’s saved 40 hours per agent in onboarding time, for a total time savings of about 4,000 hours.
“I can’t tell you how much time we have saved eliminating all the messy admin work that used to come with nearly every ticket,” says Figueras. “Halp and Slack have changed my life.”
Some of the saved time has gone into brainstorming ways to make the help desk work better. “We’re finally building a comprehensive FAQ section for common questions,” says Figueras. And because she can generate reports through help on the substance of tickets, she knows what those common questions are.
“By tracking and archiving customer feedback in Slack, we’re able to see what issues are coming up repeatedly and use that information to inform our product, our in-house software, and the end user app,” Figueras says. She no longer needs to guess at how many tickets are generated by agents or the common problems that result in tickets: She has real data that she can analyze for insights.
“By tracking and archiving customer feedback in Slack, we’re able to see what issues are coming up repeatedly and use that information to inform our product, our in-house software and the end user app.”
“We documented 918 tickets in a recent month,” she says. “We have concrete information that tells us if we need more agents, or if we need to show that we need more help from developers.”
Halp’s integration with Slack is also encouraging agents to post their questions in the
#app-issues channel instead of using DMs.
“A lot of the problems that people have are common problems that other people are also experiencing,” Figueras says. Agents can find answers themselves for simple questions, freeing up more time for Figueras to respond to complex issues. “People are more likely to look at old threads and self-serve their own problems. I feel like it’s resulted in a lot less DMs, which is super nice.”
At the same time, agents are being given more time to focus on what’s most important: connecting patients to care. In fact, using Halp, agents are increasingly empowered to open, close and manage tickets themselves when possible. “It’s almost like a cultural shift is occurring,” says Figueras. “Agents are taking ownership, sharing responsibility and even starting to do their own troubleshooting.”