Category: Slack

A Slack Only Help Desk Part 1

A Slack Only Help Desk Part 1

In the fall of 2018 I transitioned my team’s help desk to MyTech Desk. Transitioning to MyTechDesk gave us a more robust system and improved data reporting over our previous help desk. Overall the transition was very smooth and successful. I say that because in the fall of 2019 my team had a ticket closure rate of 98% for the 1st semester…..A fact I like to bring up when people ask why they need to submit a ticket. 🙂

MyTechDesk a great free solution for schools looking to implement a ticketing system.

The transition however also added some barriers for staff. In order to submit a ticket, the staff needed to log into an account. It sounds silly but this extra step deterred some people from entering tickets. The other big challenge was that all of our communication about tickets was handled via email…..We use Slack as our primary communication tool. These two items I believe lead to many people opting to send their site technicians direct messages vs using the help desk system.

While direct messages are totally ok for asking for help I really wanted my staff to use a help desk so we can…

  • Make sure we don’t miss or forget about requests.
  • Get an accurate scope of what we are working on.
  • Have data to share about our team’s impact.
  • Look for trends so we can identify projects to work on.

With all of this in mind, I started exploring help desk systems that worked with Slack. While there are a few out there I found most of them only had one-way communication with Slack. I was looking for a system that allowed my staff to create and interact with tickets from all within Slack.

During all of my research COVID-19 hit and within 24hrs everything went online for my team. We were pretty well prepared to go fully online from a systems point of view but I knew the staff would need some extra help. Since I had been thinking about moving to Slack anyways I made the call that we would “temporarily” move the help desk to Slack.

While I made the call to go 100% in on a Slack help desk system to support staff during the transition, I also had another motive. I wanted to use this time to demo out how well the staff and my team managed using Slack as our help desk. While we faced a few hiccups (mainly people not reading the multiple messages about moving to Slack for our help desk) overall the experiment was a success. This lead me to decide that we needed to go with a Slack only help desk moving forward.

Over the next few blog posts, I am going to be sharing how we designed and implemented the system as well as some of the challenges we are facing with the transition. When possible I’ll share some of the resources we used to create our system in case you wanted to create your own.

The Great 2017-2018 Slack Experiment

The Great 2017-2018 Slack Experiment

One of my school’s new initiatives this year is the implementation of Slack. We believe that by implementing Slack school wide that we will be able to increase staff communication and transparency. In this post I want to share the why behind our implementation of Slack, a brief explanation of what Slack is, and share two Slack basics along with some tips and tricks!

Why Slack?

As a school leader it is crucial that we build a strong culture amongst teachers, staff members, and administrators. In many schools, culture is rooted in the ways teammates and coworkers communicate. A lack of communication between staff members can cause unnecessary stress and confusion which can lead to negative feelings about work. A lack of communication can also lead to staff members starting to question if their school leaders are being transparent about decisions. When communication and transparency break down staff becomes unhappy and unmotivated to do their best on a daily basis. So how can school leaders increase communication and transparency with their staff? I believe that the answer is using Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge aka Slack.

What is Slack?

Slack is a cloud based collaboration tool that looks to increase team communication. Slack combines text messaging, instant messaging, and group chats all into one powerful tool. In Slack conversations are organized by topic through a series of private or public channels. With Slack users can share files, engage in public and private communication, and quickly search for messages and files that have been posted in Slack. Slack is free for teams, can be set up in a few minutes, and is not limited to any specific platform.

Slack Basics

What is a channel in Slack?

An easy way to think of a channel is to view it like a hashtag on social media. Just like hashtags, channels are used to organize conversations. Organizing your conversations with channels is key to making sure that the general chat room does not become overwhelming for users.

Slack by default creates two channels for you when you set up your team. #general channel is for general group conversation. This is a great channel to use for all staff announcements or information that you need everyone on the team to receive. The second channel that Slack creates for you is #random. This channel is great for non work talk and for fun conversations.

To create additional channels in Slack click on the plus sign next to Channels. If you click on the word Channels you can browse and join any public channels that have already been created in your team.

The first step when creating a channel in Slack you will need to decide if you want the channel to be public (any user on your team can join) or private (only users you invite can join). To create transparency with your staff you will want to have a majority of your channels be public. The only time that I would recommend creating a private channel is if you will be sharing confidential information in the channel (private student information, information about staff members, etc.). After setting your channel’s visibility you will need to give your channel a name. If you will be using slack across campuses I would suggest creating a naming convention that quickly identifies each campus. For example if I wanted to create a channel about math instruction at Middle School One I could call the channel #MS1 Math.

What is a direct message in Slack?

Direct messages in Slack are one on one or small group conversations. A direct message is similar to a Google Hangout or any other instant messaging program. Sending a direct message can be done by click on a user’s username in the sidebar or by clicking the plus sign. If you click on the words Direct Messages you can also see a list of all of your previous direct messages or search for a particular conversation.

When sending a direct message I would suggest tagging the user by typing @ and their slack user name. I have known of a few people who turn off channel and direct message notifications but leave on tagging notifications so I always tag the user I am trying to speak with.

If you currently use Slack with your staff I would love to connect and talk more. You can reach me by completing my contact form.