I think it would be an understatement to say that the folks of the OU Center for Teaching Excellence are fans of Slack. We started using it in August 2014 (six months after its public launch) as we were in desperate need of a solution for quick conversations. Our old office was on two different floors. If anybody who wanted to talk with those on the first floor felt like they had to schedule a meeting to do so and this made time sensitive discussions difficult or relegated to email. Another issue was that we had what felt like a hundred people working in the same room on the third floor. Unfortunately, distractions were plenty and privacy was limited. So Mark sent Keegan and our previous graphic designer on a hunt for a chat client. We happened to serendipitiously hear about this new tool called Slack, which met our pre-req of working across any device (Mac, iOS, Android, browser). The rest is CTE history.
We now have 23 Slack #channels dedicated to different projects and topics as well as the ability to generate private conversations. Recently, we’ve been dipping our toes into Slack integrations in efforts to centralize our activities. For instance, John Stewart set up a Twitter channel which leverages IFTTT to push all of our tweets into #twitter.
And we are now using Slack for user support as well. Our old method required users to fill out an online email form and we just used mailbox rules to forward the email to multiple parties. One can see the problem with this quickly. First, we had no way of tracking if someone took care of something (we inevitably just asked each other or copied in the email address). We also had no way of assigning tickets to people that would be appropriate for a specific question. So we went on looking for a help desk product that had both a free option and Slack integrations.
Our first stop was Zendesk but that unfortunately offered nothing for free to us. Next was Groove, which was a great looking product and gave us a free acount with three users but Slack integration was a premium offering. Finally, we landed on Freshdesk. Both the integration as well as three team members are available on the free version which is perfect for our little team.
Freshdesk generates an email address which converts emails to tickets so we were able to plug it right in to our previous support form field. John was able to quickly setup the integration and #create_support channel:
So now we get our support tickets notifications very quickly in Slack:
The mobile app is quite impressive as well:
I continue to be impressed with how we can find applications that fit a small team need. We’re still on free Slack as well so this entire setup costs us zilch while increasing productivity (to quote the Bava, quoting Grant Potter, quoting Minutemen, “We Jam Econo!”).
The last little Slack integration that we’ve cooked up is for transfers from faculty-staff.ou.edu. Starting soon, folks will be able to request to have their files transferred from the previous faculty-staff.ou.edu web hosting offering to OU Create when they register a OU Create space through our registration application WHMCS. The one-and-only Tim Owens was able to write an action hook that gives us the following:
How’s that for service?!
Featured Image by Talia Herman.