Like many customers, Paul Linden, vice president of technology and operations at My Computer Works Inc., an online help desk computer support company, had questions about support and the future of the product line when Numara Software Inc. bought UniPress Software Inc. in September.
"There was an initial concern [when we found out]," Linden said. "I thought, 'What does this mean for [UniPress President Mark Krieger] and his team?'"
Linden was also concerned that the companies would try to merge UniPress's FootPrints product with Tampa, Fla.-based Numara's TrackIt product line. But in two conversations with Krieger, Linden was reassured. Today Linden says he's hopeful that the FootPrints line will benefit from increased resources resulting from the merger with Numara.
According to Fred Pack, Numara's vice president of business operations, both UniPress and Numara worked hard to combat those concerns, and customers have been responsive to the changes following the acquisition.
"We made sure that there is no reduction in the services we offer," Pack said. "All of the resources they need are here, so [support] is not an issue."
Evaluating help desk software
Linden said he chose the FootPrints line from more than a dozen Web-based service desk products, including BMC Magic, FrontRange Solution Inc.'s HEAT, Parature and RightNow. His small business based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was outgrowing its homegrown call center software. Open for 18 months now, My Computer Works has more than 2,000 small business customers, some with 10 PCs or more.
"[Customers] use us as their help desk," Linden said. "We needed a system to solve problems, [but also] to track and manage customer information and best practices. That's where FootPrints came in."
My Computer Works has been using the FootPrints line for six months. The company originally deployed version 7.0, but upgraded with release of the beta version of 7.5. The upgrade took six to eight weeks, culminating with the rollout of the production environment Oct. 7.
"What really stood out is the amount of support UniPress dedicated to us," Linden said. "There was a clear commitment to not only provide a help desk solution, but to be a help desk solution -- to be a best-in-class service desk for their customers."
Pack said some customers are also taking advantage of the product's easy customization. Some are even testing the envelope and expanding FootPrints into facilities management or other functions.
Linden said the flexibility of the FootPrints product was indeed a strong selling point. In addition to its help desk services, My Computer Works also provides technical support and help desk services for three other companies. Linden was able to customize the look and feel of the FootPrints product for each individual company for which My Computer Works answers the phone. Linden explained that while his company bought a 25-seat license, he is not limited in the number of projects he can handle with the FootPrints software.
"[I was impressed] that I could customize, and I didn't have to have a developer background to do it," he said.
My Computer Works sent three employees, including Linden, to a training course run by UniPress at its Edison, N.J. location. My Computer Works purchased this training along with its FootPrints licenses. Linden said it was extremely valuable for employees to learn FootPrints deployment, administration and customization techniques directly from the developers.
"As a young company, we know we're going to have to change as we grow, and we wanted to have those resources in-house instead of relying on external consultants," he said.
The rest of the technicians learned the system through Web-based training in shared seminars. Agents were given a week to prepare for the system and used old tickets to test their skills, so they had mastered FootPrints by the time of the go-live date for the production system.
According to Linden, feedback from My Computer Works agents has been very positive. Agents benefit from seeing the history of the ticket, while managers are now able to understand how long agents are spending with customers, Linden said. The company was previously using a Voice over Internet Protocol system that offered metrics indicating length of calls, but it didn't accurately show the length of time an agent and customer were talking on the line, since a lot of computer repairs are done while the customer is away from the phone line.
"With FootPrints we get the real picture," Linden said. "We can see how long an agent spent on the initial call and how long on subsequent calls with the customer."
My Computer Works went live with FootPrints 7.5 on Oct. 7 and technical support staff members began using FootPrints 7.5 at the start of their shifts Oct. 8. Since the go-live date, the company has had no reported issues.
"[Today] I'm not at all worried," Linden said. "I continue to get the same support from Numara, and it's the same people answering the phone."