This time of year is amongst a lot of peoples least favourite – the summer (if you were lucky enough to have one) is gone, children are heading back to school, those that don’t work over the summer months are heading back to work, and it changes to a wet and windy autumn. From a technological perspective, it is a busy and exciting time of year though. No industry makes a bigger impact on the way we live than the technology industry. Innovators in hardware, software, gaming, entertainment and telecoms start releasing products in time for the run up to Christmas.

Worthy of the hype?

September saw the release of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The 6 sold more than 10 million units in its opening weekend alone and is set to become the smartphone of choice for a lot of people over the next twelve months.

At the 848 Group our engineers like to be at the forefront of learning new technologies and one of our engineers purchased his iPhone 6 on release day. He hasn’t quite sold his new device to some of the more ardent Android users in the office, but there are some of us that are counting down the days until our existing smartphone contracts come to an end.

A clash of old and new?

The other main new release from an IT point of view is the release of the technical preview of Windows 10. As we are a Microsoft Partner at The 848 Group, this is something that we have access to and a couple of our engineers have installed it on machines to test. The tests, thus far, have been favourable. One main point that our customers and other Windows 8 users may find appealing is that it reverts back to seeing a more classic version of the Start menu. It’s a merging of the Windows 7-style interface and Windows 8 Live Tiles. Microsoft’s aim here is to keep both touch and mouse users happy.

Why the jump from Windows 8 to Windows 10? To put it bluntly, we (and the rest of the world outside of the Redmond Campus) are not sure.

There are some that suggest it is because Windows 7-8-9. Then there are some that believe that it is because of versions of Windows 95 and 98 being referred to as Windows 9 in some scripts. There are the more cynical people that believe that Microsoft are hoping to make up for some decreasing profits by releasing a limited edition Windows 9 at a later date. Me? I personally think that Windows 9 will be released as a free upgrade to Windows 8 users; possibly by Spring 2015.

As the rest of the world makes changes and explores new technologies, we at the 848 Group have been doing the same.

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The Windows 8 interchangeable (and contested) tile system.
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The ‘old-school’ style that still seems to be the people’s favourite.
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Redefining your Support Desk experience

As I’m sure all of our customers are now aware, we have moved away from the Zendesk ticket logging system for our CURA Support service and are now using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Dynamics is an excellent CRM system that each department within the 848 Group will be using – Sales, Finance, Project Management and the Service Desk. The Service Desk is using it as a Case logging system.

The feedback from our customers has been positive. The customer, and those CC’d into the original support request are no longer receiving emails for every update; a feature on Zendesk that came under criticism from some of our customers. Instead, you can email cases@848.co and you will receive an additional automated reply to say that your email has been received by Dynamics. Then you will receive an email, within one hour of Dynamics receiving it, from the engineer that the Case has been assigned to. The only emails you will receive during the life of the Case will be from the engineer either requesting further information or asking for an update. The final email you will receive will be a notification upon resolution of your Support Case.

One area that a number of customers used with the old Zendesk system was the Self-Service Portal (support.848.co). Here you could log your own support request and view your open and closed tickets.

Our Software Director is currently developing this for the new Dynamics system and it will include all the features that the old Zendesk Portal had, plus much more. There will be a Note Text field that you will able to view all live updates from the Service Desk Engineer; there will be an Invoices section, where certain named persons within your organisation can view invoices relating to your support; you will be able to view not only your own Open Cases, but your Open Company Cases also; there will also be some charts and graphs to help assist you in monitoring all open and closed cases.

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The Self-Service Portal is going to be beta tested by one of our customers in the very near future, and after some stringent testing by them, along with feedback on what they find to work or not work from a customer’s perspective, we aim to start rolling this out to our other customers.

I come from a background of more than 15 years front-line customer service experience; the majority of which has been spent working within an IT Support environment. My previous employers include Staffordshire County Council, bet365, the BBC and the Home Office. When working as an A+ certified IT Support Officer, I had a first-time-fix-rate higher than any other past or current employee and would always “go the extra mile” in order to assist the customers’ needs.

This is why excellent customer service, coupled with an increasing knowledge in the ever-changing world of IT, is imperative to what I want to build here at the IT Support Desk. The Support Engineers will receive regular training and gain qualifications applicable to their roles, in order to help better support our customers. I am in the process of deploying a new Customer Satisfaction Survey, which will go out to all customers that have raised Cases with the Service Desk, once their Case has been resolved. My aim from this is to gain a better understanding of what our customers are (or are not) happy with and see which areas we need to improve the service to our customers.

I look forward to hearing from all of our customers over the coming months as the Customer Satisfaction Survey takes place.