The Innovation Team at UTees drives productivity gains with simple ticketing from Spoke

Company

UTees

Industry

Apparel
Don Pawlowski
Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

The Innovation Team at University Tees relied on Slack and email to handle requests from all of their employees, with no way to keep track of tickets. After switching to Spoke, they were automatically resolving hundreds of tickets per month, dramatically improving their transparency and efficiency.

Listed on Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies, University Tees has become a major player in the world of collegiate apparel. The philosophy of University Tees, often referred to as “UTees”, revolves around one core statement: “Develop people and change lives”. As a whole, the company is committed to their employees’ well-being and productivity.

Don Pawlowski’s Innovation Team plays a key role in supporting the UTees mission. The Innovation Team is not only responsible for conventional internal IT support, but also supporting applications that power customer orders and fulfillment. In other words, the Innovation Team literally keeps the revenue of UTees flowing.

The Challenge

To keep up with the constant IT demands of the organization, Don’s team set up specific Slack channels to organize employee issues. But frequently, employees would ignore the Slack channel and message specific Innovation Team members to expedite their requests. And if a team member was out of the office, there was no one to handle the request.

The lack of a formal system to track issues and requests made it difficult for both employees and IT staff to work efficiently. “I wanted a really easy place that everyone could go and comfortably use to put all their issues in,” Don explains.

Once Don saw that Spoke could organize and manage all of their IT requests in a simple interface, he was sold. “I was in. It’s simple and it just works and that’s what I care about,” Don says. He appreciated how easy it was to add new information, see open tickets at a glance, and route tickets to teams automatically.

A simpler, better ticketing system that the whole company loves

Spoke’s streamlined interface was a refreshing change from other older, bloated ticketing systems Don had used in the past. “You know, there’s so many tools in our industry that pile feature atop of feature. And just makes it an awful user experience. Things like JIRA come to mind,” Don shares.

Spoke is powered by machine learning and automatically resolve roughly half of requests, providing instant answers for UTees employees. And with multi-channel support, including Slack, email, and SMS, the Innovation Team can easily organize and respond to any complicated issue from one place.

Even the skeptics who had worked with legacy ticketing systems were quick to jump on the Spoke train. “Greg, our systems admin, loved it the second he saw it,” Don adds.

The simple and intuitive design was key in the incredible adoption rate of Spoke across the entire company. Following a quick onboarding campaign, the entire company was on Spoke and submitting requests.The App Support team at UTees has also begun using Spoke to handle their own tickets.

“People in the company saw the simplicity and just got it. We got the whole company on Spoke in a day.”

Bringing greater transparency to the IT workflow

Before Spoke, the Innovation Team had a difficult time knowing exactly how many issues they resolved in a given month. Switching to Spoke has given Don confidence that he and the rest of the Innovation Team have a strong handle on the many issues they’re managing and are prepared for future growth.

Don had estimated that his team handled 100-200 requests per month. The real number was quite a surprise. “I looked to see how many Spoke requests we’ve had and it was 837. I was like, wow. It’d only been like a month or two so it was kind of shocking,” Don says.

This transparency has made it easier for Don to manage expectations with company leadership. “I told the senior leadership team, look, there’s over 800 things that we’ve done in the last month. Support is a cost, so we need to be conscious of if people want a one hour turn-time on issues,” Don says.

Increasing efficiency and speed in the ticketing process

Incorporating Spoke into the UTees workflow has resulted in concrete gains in efficiency for the Innovation Team. From response time to resolution speed, Don has seen dramatic improvements across the board. “I’d say there’s probably 20 percent efficiency gain in either category,” Don shares.

UTees employees are also enjoying the new, simplified approach with Spoke. Instead of worrying about a Slack message or email getting ignored, they get immediate confirmation that their issue is going to get handled.

“There’s that built-in feedback to the end user who submits an issue: We’re looking at this thing. That may or may not have happened before. And so the end user is at least feeling like things are being completed more quickly because they’re getting that feedback,” Don adds.

“I’m an evangelist. I’m a believer. It’s been one of the better moves we’ve made for our team. For a team that didn’t have a ticketing system, Spoke was just perfect.”

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