Your Collaboration Platform Could Just Bring You Closer to Your Customers
Being a managed services provider comes with a lot of trust. Our customers rely heavily on us to take over part—or even the entirety—of their IT operations. We don’t take that responsibility lightly.
MiroNet exists because IT is important to every business, but it isn’t everyone’s expertise. If you're an architecture firm, there aren't enough hours in the day for you to focus on IT as well as the needs of your clients. But you still need your phones and email systems to work. And business would be seriously impeded if you couldn’t collaborate with your colleagues.
From our perspective at MiroNet, our responsibility means two things: First, our people need to stay out of the way as much as possible. In a best-case scenario, you shouldn't even realize we're there. Second, we need to do whatever it takes to reliably power your business up to the point where you can stop focusing on technology and start putting technology to work for you.
Collaboration Is the Mother of Innovation
None of this would be possible without a strong sense of internal collaboration at MiroNet, which has always been one of our top priorities. Anyone who’s worked in IT knows the constant firefighting that takes place. And multiple fires seem to happen at the same time. To avoid disruption to our customers, we all need to be on the same page.
We began to use Webex Teams for internal collaboration and loved what we saw. As issues arose, it was a single place where our team had complete visibility into who was handling what problem. It was also less intrusive—but faster—than email or a phone call. If I call you, it’s disruptive. You drop whatever you’re doing to take my call that might not be pressing. Email provides more flexibility, but it’s not as collaborative and real time. There isn’t this instant back and forth. Chat provides the immediacy we need, but without being disruptive.
As we saw how valuable it was for our team, we started to think about other ways we could use Webex Teams.
Since we often take over an entire IT operation of our customers, it means that when an issue comes up we aren’t dealing with someone from our customer’s IT office, but rather someone from accounting, sales, or any other department. We need to provide them with a seamless, professional way to communicate with our team, while giving visibility to the rest of their staff that MiroNet is working on the problem.
With Webex teams, we can do simple chat conversations, all the way up to full-on video chats. Our end users can even share their screens. This would be all incredibly valuable on its own, but is even better because it can happen on any device. Our end users can reach us through their phone, laptop, or tablet. The device they’re on won’t hold them back.
Thinking Outside the Box
With the success we’d seen with Webex both internally and with customers, we wanted to see how far we could take it. At MiroNet, we aim to provide around-the-clock service to our customers to ensure their problems are always resolved. But at the same time, we don’t want to work 24 hours a day.
If a customer calls outside of business hours, this interaction is being handled by our call center. They're always staffed with someone to answer our customers.
Their job is to record details about a case, and then let us know about it. But the call center’s preferred way to communicate with us is SMS or email, which is an issue. We're on the border near Germany and France, and have staff from both countries. If someone goes home for the night to Germany, they might not get that text message.
We wanted to see if we could improve that communication system beyond SMS.
Our team programed a chatbot that receives a message from the call center via email, which we are then instantly informed about via Webex Teams. Whenever a customer calls after hours, the bot informs our staff through Webex Teams. When one of us says we’re on it, it notifies the call center. We’ve made a bridge between old and new technology.
We also integrated Webex with the network monitoring software PRTG. We use it to monitor network devices and services. But PRTG's main notification channel is email, which isn’t helpful. With monitoring, you need real-time information.
With our PRTG integration, if the platform needs to page someone, it sends a message into a specified Webex team's space. That team will then have their own notification settings, so they can decide when they’ll be notified of an outage. This provides them with the information they need, but on their schedule.
It's all documented—with time stamps—right there in Webex. We have a complete history of the event queue, so we know when the alert was generated, what steps were taken to address the problem, and how it was ultimately solved.
It's a centralized place for insight and action and it couldn't be more valuable. This frees up the time of all of our team members to focus on what matters. Sometimes that's putting out a more urgent fire. Other times it involves spending a nice, relaxing weekend with your spouse and kids.
It All Comes Back to the Customer
Our call center and PRTG integrations have us thinking of what’s next. An integration we’re excited to dive into is with JIRA.
We use JIRA in a couple of ways. The first is project management on initiatives that require a lot of coordination, like moving a customer to the cloud. That would be a project with a lot of moving pieces, so we’d use JIRA to keep track.
We also utilize JIRA for asset management. Every device we manage for a customer comes with a QR sticker pointing to an object in JIRA. This allows us to know which device we’re talking about when an issue arises, and lets our team easily look up the history of that device.
Right now, all that information sits in JIRA. Now JIRA has an API so we’d love to connect it to Webex. We’ve made tremendous strides in integrating our workflow into Webex, so we want JIRA to live in there as well.
We're also working on integration with Cisco Meraki. In the past, email was the only notification measure available. Recently, they've implemented webhooks that allows Meraki to send us a real-time notification to a web server we define. Once we bring together Webex and that web server, we'll be able to open up Meraki to notifications via any method, from any device, at any time.
Sometimes, email still makes sense as a communication medium. But it's only a way to convey information—it's not a way to have a conversation. It's certainly not a way to collaborate, as strings often grow too long and cumbersome for their own good. I shouldn't have to struggle to make sense of an hour's worth of updates on an issue. I should just know.
That's what Webex and their integrations have enabled for MiroNet.
Webex and its chat functionality have done more than just allow us to better serve our customers. It's positioned us to do so in a way that also helps strengthen the essential level of trust our customers have in us. They can reach us from any device that’s convenient for them, and they know we’re organized enough to resolve the issue quickly. We’ll stay out of the way so they can get back to work.