Customer Stories
October 2, 2019

Case Study - How The Home Depot’s QuoteCenter found a conversational ticketing system for internal support in Slack

Home Depot’s QuoteCenter Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team skewed away from other internal support ticketing systems because they were too much change and burden on the end-user. Their goal was to make it easy for their users to continue normal day-to-day operations in Slack without having to add another step to submitting an issue or request.

Company Profile: Home Depot QuoteCenter

At QuoteCenter, we’re fueling sales to the Pro marketplace from within our global supply chain. We’re extending the shelves of The Home Depot by developing sales applications from the ground up. Using a reactive microservices architecture to build out robust merchandising opportunities, our teams of engineers, designers, data and vendor operations analysts work together to drive our business forward every day. 

Acquired by The Home Depot in 2013, QuoteCenter has the scale and network of a $107 billion organization, with the "down-the-hall" access and entrepreneurial spirit of a small company.

Home Depot’s QuoteCenter Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team supports inter-team requests between the administrators and engineering teams. They manage all sorts of requests from CSID features, to infrastructure assistants and more. 


Business Challenge - Internal Support for Slack

Home Depot’s QuoteCenter Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team was on the hunt for a magic tool that would check off a long list of requirements they were looking for in a support tool. When we spoke with their team lead, Corban, he mentioned to us that they “previously, handled requests in a Slack support channel #sre – and that’s a really GREAT way to forget about all the work you need to do.” 

They were managing and dealing with a tidal wave of feature requests that were flowing into the #sre channel, but requests got lost in old threads and often people would DM an engineer they knew instead of following proper protocol. Many times, Corban would say “oh yeah, sure I can get to that” then forget about it until about three weeks later when he’d get a message from them again reminding him of the request. Whoopsy Daisy 😬. The team as a whole lost a lot of data in old Slack history or dms that they couldn’t find a way to measure and represent the work they were doing as part of all the requests they were getting. 

Needless to say, things were really chaotic and balls were getting dropped. This was especially bad when it was related to major feature requests that didn’t get scheduled because they were buried on 4 week-old threaded Slack messages.


The Process of Finding Halp

The Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team realized they were in need of a system that could help support them and their requesters. To begin with, they outlined a checklist of must-haves and need-to-haves as a team and what that would look like. One of their highest priorities was finding a tool that would be as little burden as possible on their application engineers. They hoped there would be a deep Slack integration, and even one of the engineers called out that it would be “really cool if you could mark a message with an emoji and that became a request.” Little did they know there was something out there that would check all their boxes. Sounds like that engineer is a genius and should be promoted to the highest position of all—President of Ideation. He’s got our vote!


The team was introduced to Halp via one of their engineers who was pretty quick to recommend Halp based the product hitting every mark they were looking for:

  • Not a big lift for users to adopt
  • Slack-first
  • They could keep the same Slack channel to reach out to the team (#-sre)
  • Keeping the same public contract on how to contact them
  • Of course - the emoji marker for a ticket was the cherry on top 🍒


Why Not Other Options - Slack

Home Depot’s QuoteCenter Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Team skewed away from other ticketing systems because they were too much change and burden on the end-user. Their goal was to make it easy for their users to continue normal day-to-day operations in Slack without having to add another step to submitting an issue or request. The goal of the tool was to not push away peers or change the way issues had to be submitted. They needed to avoid having to say “No, we won’t take your submission, you now have to talk to us through this other system or we won’t fulfill your request.” The SRE team places a big value on P2P (people 2 people, 👯‍♀️, or 👯‍♂️) collaboration to throw a help desk between them and their requesters. It would be hard for them and feel unnatural to be pushing people away from normal communication patterns they grew accustomed to through the use of Slack. The Team also felt that Slack as a tool was really cool on the consumer side and as a company, The Home Depot QuoteCenter has been also encouraging employees to continue using Slack to communicate, since they’re pretty dang cool too. 


How Halp Halped

Alright, on the surface it looked as though Halp was their dream solution. But, let’s take a deeper dive to see exactly what Halp provided to The Home Depot QuoteCenter, and if it solved all their needs.

First and foremost, Halp allowed the SRE team to keep way better track of their work. It gave them the ability to organize larger initiatives, because they were now able to handle similar requests in one fell swoop, versus handling them one by one. Probably one of the biggest wins was not having requests get lost in DMs—Halp halped the SRE team push requests into the triage channel, keeping things organized and top of mind.

Another benefit is the SRE team’s ability to forecast work that needs to be done based on what has already been done. With Halp’s ease of use, the team can see how many tickets are open that need to be addressed, they can decide if more members are needed on a team to complete a project, allowing them to keep an open flow of discussion. Basically, they have a digital crystal ball that gives them the upper hand.


And since the Halp/Slack integration is so seamless, The Home Depot QuoteCenter is able to collect data over time to track how much time and money is spent on support, helping keep themselves accountable. 

On top of all that, they didn’t have to add on an entirely new ticketing system, instead, they stayed within Slack (which they were all familiar with) and added to it—genius! By way of emoji, they were able to get a ticketing system they know and love set up. Best of all? It’s SO EASY to train people on, especially those already familiar with Slack, saving them time, and simultaneously preventing Godzilla-sized migraines. 

Corban, recently told us “Halp’s support has been a really helpful tool. I hold this relationship in high regard over some of our other technology partners because Halp actually helps me get things done.” Awww, Corban, that’s too sweet, but please, go on.


The SRE team also reported that Halp has sped up their process in general, stating that with Halp it only takes them an average of 30 seconds to address each issue—that’s FAST, baby, FAST WE TELL YOU. And of course, because of all that and everything else we mentioned, it’s allowed them to provide far better service for their peeps. That’s the definition of a win-win, folks!


Beta Testing Halp Answers

What’s been really great has been the symbiotic relationship Halp and The Home Depot’s QuoteCenter SRE team have developed. In the same way that sea anemones hitch a ride with a hermit crab in exchange for protection from octopuses , The Home Depot’s QuoteCenter SRE team helped with beta testing Halp Answers. They worked together to slowly feed “answers” into the system carefully, to ensure a smooth run that didn’t overwhelm. Similar to using a slow-feeder system with your adorably food-motivated labrador puppy—get them the yum-yums in a slow and healthy way!

Halp Answers takes a completely different approach to a traditional knowledge base by enabling teams to create and update Answers directly from Slack messages and tickets. Then, the next time the same question comes up our A.I. will look to match the ticket’s text with the saved answers to see if there are any matches. If there are, the Halp bot will offer up the matching answer to the agent ticket the next time someone asks it with an option to add additional messaging.

By using Halp Answers, the SRE team has been able to capture deep links to certain hot topics, and saving them for future recall. Now the SRE Team can provide the link they need at the right time, all without searching for it in their database. Saving them time and making them one of the most efficient teams on the block. 


Conclusion

As you can see, Halp and The Home Depot’s QuoteCenter SRE team had a terrible time, everything failed, and both systems hate each other. It’s a real shame. NOT! As it turns out, Halp was able to hit every target the SRE team put out there, and right in the bullseye. The Home Depot’s QuoteCenter SRE team was able to stay within Slack, incorporate a ticketing system they know how to use and trust, and they were able to stop tickets from falling between the cracks; increasing productivity and improving their quality of service. What more could they ask for? Well, they did ask for a way to assign an emoji to a conversation to turn it into a ticket, and guess what? THEY GOT THAT TOO (never mind that that’s been the Halp MO since its inception). All in all, they’ve addressed their issues in exactly the way they wanted, and for us, that’s a huge win. GO US!


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