How we Slack at Exotel

July 14, 2015

We love automation. We always have. Our motto has been – if it’s repetitive and can be automated, don’t waste your time on it. So, for us, falling in love with slack was absolutely inevitable.

We first signed up for Slack well over a year ago. Being a small team back then, all sitting under the same roof, we barely made use of it. Anytime we wanted something from someone, all we had to do was yell and the person could hear us.

But, we have grown at such a breakneck speed since. At one point, we were spread across 2 offices – Asterix & Obelix (if you didn’t know about our Asterix obsession, read this). And these offices were over a km apart. We tried hollering, but it didn’t work anymore. It was around the same time that the Exotel support team started working from 7 am to 1 am. This meant that the support and tech teams were working in shifts. Owing to the fact that a vast majority of our critical client issues were related to calls and SMS status, our Tech team made it their priority to help us solve these queries. Sometimes, there were known bugs or issues that we would be working on. When the shifts changed, we had to repeat the same stuff all over again since there would be different people answering both the support and tech queries.

We then began looking for solutions to make this inter-team communication smoother. It was at this point that Sid pointed out that we had signed up for a tool in the past that would help solve this issue – Slack.

Starting simple

We started using Slack in the simplest way possible. The support and the tech people, during their shift, started using Slack to interact with one another as opposed to emails. So, when the shift changed and the next set of people came in, all they had to do was scroll up to see what happened earlier and carry on. This made life a lot easier. We dedicated one channel for discussion and another separate channel for updates from our Tech team. Any downtimes and temporary issues which might affect customer calls were listed here. This way, any non-tech person, sitting in the other office (or anywhere in the world for that matter) had instant feed on what was down. This greatly helped them while answering customer calls.

slack 1

Empowering teams to solve customer queries

After this inter-team communication worked wonderfully for us, we started looking for ways in which we could use Slack to ensure that the customer success team had all the tools necessary to solve customer queries at their disposal.

Every call made or received via Exotel has a unique ID that is shared between services discussing the events of the call. When a customer raises a ticket regarding various call issues, we first ask them for this unique ID. This is where we begin to debug problems. We typically end up looking at a bunch of sources to check what all happened during these calls. It is not only a time-consuming process but also a slightly robotic one after you’ve done it a few times. But what if some or rather all of this could be made available to a non-tech support person who is granted the responsibility of handling these tickets? This is exactly what we did. We gave them sufficient knowledge about what each field meant and how things could be inferred based on a chain of events. This enabled them to solve queries of more than half the customers on the spot! Going back and forth between the Tech and Support team to debug calls is now out of the question.

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Avoiding escalations between teams means that the queries typically get answered faster for the customer. This also means that the customer success team is able to get a 360 degree view of the customer issue.

Nivedha, one of our Customer Happiness Ninja says, “Using Slack helps us understand call and SMS issues a lot more clearly. We are also able to debug a lot of the issues ourselves. In cases where we do have to bring it to the notice of the tech team, we are able to give them more information about what went wrong and where, making it a lot easier for the tech team to look in the right place for the solution.”

Monitoring uptimes

We take our uptimes very seriously. Remember We publicly update our uptimes for everyone to see, irrespective of whether they are our customers or not. In the event of a downtime, the customer success team members are the first to be intimated. slack makes this very simple. We have integrated our monitoring tool Nagios with Slack to ensure that they get real-time updates about downtimes too.

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Why not make calls via Exotel from Slack

Now that we’ve got the essential aspects of customer happiness out of the way, we tried a few other integrations too.

Exotel calls from inside slack. Think of it like, click to call without the actual click part.

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All work and no play make the Gauls dull folks

This is by far my most favourite 1o mins we spent on Slack!

Read here about how to play the Slack game.

While we’re still learning and figuring out newer ways to use Slack better and better in our daily jobs, one thing’s for sure, we’re in love and not afraid to admit it 🙂

Chinmay Bhattar
Written By

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