One of our primary, ever present goals at TEN7 is to provide the best possible customer experience. We think we do this pretty well. And this means that any customer service-related system or tool we use needs to be top-notch, to support us in doing our job well.

Jira Service Desk served us [fairly] well for years. We were able to hold our daily team stand ups and easily review all of our clients’ support requests within the same overall system as all of our other work. The process was this: client sends an email to [email protected]; that email triggers a support request in Jira; TEN7 team gets notified via Slack. We could then head on over to Jira to review the request and converse with the client as needed.

The Problem

While there weren’t any major problems with this system, a few things could have been better — and we always want to be better:

  1. Support requests didn’t automatically generate a “ticket” for us to work on (a ticket is Jira’s version of a task) We could talk through issues with clients via the support request, but in order to make sure a request didn’t fall off of our plate, we’d have to generate a separate ticket and assign that to one of our team members. This would create a duplicate request in Jira on the same issue (one client request + one internal ticket).
  2. Not everyone on the team could see support requests. We kept our support team lean due to outrageous fees for additional support members in Jira. If a given TEN7 team member wasn’t designated as part of the support team in Jira, they couldn’t easily field requests or review requests that pertained to them.
  3. The interface left something to be desired. To be honest, this isn’t surprising given that it lives within Jira… and none of us can confidently say that Jira’s interface is “easy on the eyes.” Support requests looked the same as tickets (but were not), conversation threads were a bit disjointed, and it was all affecting our efficiency in supporting our clients. A lose-lose.
  4. It had a bit too many features for our needs.

At the time, we were considering moving away from Jira as our project management system altogether. In an effort to become less reliant on Jira as our overall tool, we needed to investigate other options.

The Search

To be honest, our search was brief. It all started during a particularly plentiful period of growth-mindedness. We were on a mission to reevaluate every possible system and tool we use at TEN7. Our team was pretty comfortable in how we ran things, but that doesn’t mean all of our systems were amazing; it only means that we knew them well! It’s important to recognize that difference, but it can be really, really difficult to do so when you’re all settled in and cozy in your team’s process.

We had heard of several other solutions for customer support — the usual suspects like: Zendesk, Freshdesk and Help Scout. But they all seemed a bit overkill for what we needed: A simple solution to receive support requests, reply to clients and to each other, and create any resulting support tickets.

Then, Ivan remembered talking with someone he met at Owner Camp last year who raved about a tool called Front...

The Solution

We knew pretty quickly that Front was the right solution for us. Here’s why:

  1. The interface is modern and intuitive.
    • We can view support requests all in one, easy-to-navigate inbox. Think of it like an email inbox. This makes it super simple to switch between support requests (rather than a bunch of separate requests in Jira).
    • We can write to each other and to the client all in one thread (it’s very obvious which conversations are internal and which ones are sent to the client, which was much more muddied in Jira).
    • When you click on a request, you can immediately see the entire conversation (internal + client) right there in front of you.
  2. Everything is SO simple. We had to spend a bit of time setting things up with tags — to help us categorize and prioritize requests — and notifications, but once we did it was a breeze to start using.
    • Need to archive a resolved support request? Just click a simple “archive” button. That’s it. Poof, it’s out of your way!
    • If we need to create a ticket for the development work associated with a support request, there’s a simple Jira integration that takes only one click. That ticket then gets linked out to Jira from Front.
    • If we need to assign a request to someone, we select from a dropdown list of our team. BAM. That person gets notified.
    • It’s so much simpler to switch between different support requests, because Front ultimately functions like an email inbox (rather than a bunch of separate requests in Jira).
      screenshot separate requests jira
  3. It’s really easy to manage.
    • As Director of Operations, I typically manage the support queue. But it would be just as easy for anyone else to do this! We all have the same access, because the low user fees allow us to designate everyone at TEN7 as a support team member.
    • Sometimes a client will send us an email pertaining to an existing support request. It will show up in a new conversation thread on Front because it wasn’t a direct reply to the existing request. Fortunately, distinct support emails related to the same topic can be merged into one conversation thread — something Jira didn’t offer. Duplication resolved.
    • I personally use the desktop app most often. But bonus: the phone app is great on-the-go!
      screenshot FRONT ASSIGNEES jira
      screenshot MERGE CONVOS jira
  4. We can see how we’re doing.
    • With Front analytics, we can analyze data, like: how fast, on average, we’re responding to requests, or how many requests have come in from a given client this month. We can even see peak support request times. This helps us both improve our availability and resolution time and anticipate upcoming support needs.
    • The fact that we all have access means that we can all review incoming requests or look back at archived ones. In either case, transparency is totally our style.
      screenshot FRONT ANALYTICS jira

The bottom line is, since we began using Front, our support response time has decreased, we have more visibility into what issues our clients are experiencing, and we’re better equipped to handle requests quickly and efficiently. We think this is an all-around win.

Interested in seeing Front in action? You can try it free here!