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PhaseWare Tracker Software Review

 

PhaseWare Customer Service Software Suite

PhaseWare's Customer Service software suite is comprised of five interconnected products.

  • Tracker & Tracker OnDemand are the ticket management systems on the customer service agent's desktop. Tracker is an on premise application while Tracker OnDemand is a Software as a Service (SaaS) system.
  • Event Engine allows customers to create triggering events and sequenced business rules for processing customer incidents, managing work flow scenarios and automating customer facing business processes.
  • Knowledge Base is a content management system for reference materials, documents and FAQs. It is searchable, and the client administrator can control access through various levels of permissions.
  • Self Service Center is the customer-facing web portal that allows consumer access to the Knowledge Base and forums. It also allows customers to update software and generate their own reports.
  • Live Chat Support has two integrated chat channels – an external channel for vendor to customer online chat and an internal channel for administrator to agent or agent to agent chat.

Tracker Case Management

Tracker is PhaseWare's ticket management system. It allows agents to create, assign, escalate and reassign tickets as well as permits agents to enter follow-ups into the customer service software which then appear in the designated day's list of activities. Finding information and accessing customer incidents and records is both fast and flexible. Tracker permits several methods to find contacts, customers, and case information. The user interface can be customized to configure views or flag particular details. A customer with multiple locations or a contact for multiple customers can be associated and viewed within the overall context.

Agents can manage incidents with Quick Incidents, Incident Projects and flexible Incident Classifications. The help desk software permits an interesting method to classify cases and coordinate incidents into a single project—or similarly group together incidents that impact multiple customers and manage them as a larger incident project. Customer support or help desk staff can clone an incident or easily split out multiple issues and create new incidents for them.

Customer support includes multi-channel service and support so agents can select incident sources (email, phone, chat, etc.). Agents will need to create tickets manually for incoming incidents by phone and community forums. Unfortunately, customers are unable to instantly and seamlessly continue conversations should they switch channels.

A key strength is the customer service system's ability to develop and manage flexible Service Level Agreements (SLA) whereby agents can create, re-allocate, over-ride, and monitor a virtually unlimited number of SLA types and packages. The agent desktop automatically monitors and tracks internal response goals and external service-level commitments. Customer service incidents integrate time tracking and SLA billing designation in order to improve billing accuracy, track and analyze billing and support packages, and deliver key metrics such as ticket duration from open to close and time spent per incident.

SLA setup is flexible and you can configure support hours for the help desk, by customer, by product or by priority—and set required response and resolution times for each priority. You can set up program support packages to reflect customer billing for service agreements on a per-incident or hourly basis. You can also set up packages to include a fixed number of incidents or hours each month or year, or create packages that include unlimited support for a given period. Tracking how much support a customer has used is displayed on the incident and customer information screens. You'll also receive alert notifications when customer support packages are coming up for renewal. Any support a customer receives after a support package has lapsed is clearly listed as unbilled. Tracker lets you flag a case that's billable because it falls outside of a standard support agreement. Then the incident can then be billed on a flat rate or hourly fee—and include a minimum charge if necessary. You can also designate a courtesy call or other types of incidents that shouldn't be charged against a support package. Tracker's cumulative billing report displays total billing activity, including support package overages and billable incidents.

Email integration is particularly strong. Incident tickets are automatically created from incoming emails. Tracker programmatically identifies the customer, contact information, subject, and the problem. Automated customer email to case creation is flexible and the Microsoft Outlook interface can be used for email customer support correspondence. MS Outlook provides single click ticket creation and journal entry integration from an agent's email. When using either the PhaseWare email client or Outlook, the system pre-populates outbound emails with the contact and assigned agent email addresses as well as a short description and ticket number. Customer replies to agent emails are automatically detected by PhaseWare's Mail Checker module and will transfer the reply to the original incident and notify the assigned agent of the customer email response. Email attachments can optionally be designated to insert or not insert to the incident record. This is a useful feature to prevent the same introductory or welcome information from being repeatedly inserted to case files.

The customer support software also performs a basic level of asset management. The help desk system manages the tracking of assets, products and activation keys—along with attributes such as serial numbers, locations and licenses—down to the component level and by customer.

Audit trails are automated and follow a ticket from initiation to closure and document actions taken such as automated business rules, comments, status changes, or reassignment. Occasionally separate emails on a single ticket will require a manual merging, however, to keep the actions in the same trail. The system does attach future emails addressing a merged ticket to the merged incident even though the ticket number referenced was deleted in the merging process. This is helpful in keeping the trail solid and preventing future forks or email bounce backs.

While the UI is simple to use, it also feels a bit dated. On the plus side, the navigation is intuitive and the forms self explanatory. Color coded visual references also highlight items needing attention. However, the systems UI resembles help desk software from the mid 90's and hasn't leveraged the lessons and user experience techniques found from more progressive consumer technologies.

Event Engine & Business Process Automation

PhaseWare's customer service suite uses the Event Engine to automate workflow tasks like automated email, text messages, ticket updates and creations, and scheduled reports.

Workflow templates can be repurposed or customized to meet specific requirements, and the Event Engine supports a variety of actions such as ticket modifications, customer updates and reporting. By event type an administrator can select individual field names, Boolean operator type conditions, and values to designate system monitoring and follow-up actions. This automation is far from Business Process Management (BPM) capability, however, is very simple to use and likely meets the majority of most SMB's help desk requirements.

Mail Checker automatically monitors email using Outlook and generates tickets or journal entries accordingly. It then deletes the email to keep the inbox clear but this can be potentially problematic in terms of regulatory compliance or in other email archival or synchronization needs and dictates.

This system does not include Intelligent Voice Recognition (IVR), Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) or Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) which is problematic for companies with heavy phone traffic. However, it isn't necessarily a problem for companies with tech savvy customers who typically shun voice interactions. For those companies already using a system to route and handle calls, there may be means to integrate it with PhaseWare's products, depending on the two systems' compatibility.

Knowledge Management

PhaseWare Knowledge Management supports content management for documents, FAQs and articles. Agents can use the Knowledge Base to generate forum threads and to make FAQs, published articles and reports, trouble shooting guides, notices, manuals, and downloads available to customers or for use internally. The Knowledge Base is searchable and security permissions are customizable.

Forums are a great tool for customers to find solutions by talking to each other, but they always carry some risk of inappropriate or incorrect postings from users. You should consider assigning specific agent(s) the task of forum moderation to keep the knowledge base content accurate and complete. Tracker does allow agents to monitor live chat and forums quite easily, but this can be overlooked if individual agents are not given the specific responsibility of monitoring duties.

Self Service

PhaseWare's Self Service Center is the customer-facing web portal that allows customers to search the Knowledge Base and generate their own queries and reports. Self Service generally establishes a better vendor-client relationship, as many customers prefer to research and resolve small issues quickly on their own.

However, like the case management software, the self service UI is dated although it is quite serviceable. It would behoove PhaseWare to update the UI to a more modern look and feel to better reflect the modern quality of the product and deliver a richer user experience to help desk operators.

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PhaseWare Tracker

 

PhaseWare Tracker CRM Review

 

 

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