As the number of vending machines serviced increased, Megas Vending moved the technical service from WhatsApp chat rooms to Okdesk. Thanks to the help desk system, Megas Vending's specialists can promptly address business issues critical for the company, which reduces the total downtime of broken machines. The company is planning to make the Okdesk solution an important link in the telemetry data collection in the future.
The Megas Vending company is developing, installing, and servicing vending machines in spaces rented from shops and other public spaces.
The devices are operated by two company departments:
Until recently, both of the departments have recorded their activities through WhatsApp shared chat rooms. However, with the increasing number of serviced vending machines and overall growth of the business, working in messengers has become chaotic.
"Shared WhatsApp chats don't synchronize. If someone reinstalled the application, updated the phone or, for example, switched from Android to iOS, they would not access chat rooms without a backup. Requests already sent to the chat were inevitably lost. Besides, chat rooms and messengers are inconvenient in principle to monitor the completion of specific requests or to understand what our employees have been doing during the day. This channel does not allow formalising the process, either. Every specialist may arbitrarily specify the equipment they've worked on, its inventory number, and its address, or choose not to do so. Such a message thread is unusable for identifying core problems or spotting important trends," commented Vladislav Blinov, Head of IT and Security department.
Keeping the installed equipment in working order is crucial for both the stability of Megas Vending's business and company turnover. If the vending machine is out of order, it's not making any money. Meanwhile, Megas Vending keeps paying its rent. That is why to stabilize our income we had to streamline our technical services.
"Apart from the chaos in the chat room, we faced other issues. For instance, we didn't have a common address database for our operators handling the requests. A manager could receive a request stating that a vending machine with such and such a serial number did not work. To forward this request further, they would then have to dig for the info and address hosting the machine," said Vladislav Blinov.
As our business was expanding, working with a non-specialized tool began taking too much of our time, and so Megas Vending started weighing its options for full-fledged automation.
When the company made a decision to switch from Instant Messengers like WhatsApp to a more dedicated solution, they began to analyze offers available on the market.
"I've previously worked at a company servicing IT equipment for hypermarkets. They used a different solution, so, obviously, I was considering the product that was familiar to me. But we've looked at other options, too. One of our key requirements was to be able to quickly retrieve information about the requests linked with their addresses on the map and to know where our employees are at all times. We tried to reduce the time spent to fix a malfunction by assigning the nearest employee. When we've analyzed the market, we found out that Okdesk was a perfect match for our profile and was already tailored for automation of field service processes. It also has the most intuitive and modern interface on the market today," commented Vladislav Blinov.
Okdesk integration began in 2019.
"The most difficult part for us was filling Okdesk with our databases: customers, serviced facilities, equipment. This system has an API and import templates, but we had our data stored in a custom-configured ERP database, so we couldn't just import everything we needed with a few clicks," mentioned Vladislav Blinov.
At present, all requests are recorded by the call center specialists and further distributed among the executors in Okdesk.
"We are receiving the bulk of our requests by phone—there is a dedicated hotline number to call whenever there is an issue with a vending machine. Some of our partners already use the Okdesk mobile app for ticket registration," says Vladislav Blinov, Head of the IT and Security department.
Our field specialists, on the other hand, are actively using the outstanding Okdesk mobile app. They're receiving requests "on the go" and perform all the necessary repairs.
Head of the technical department is in charge of assigning the requests. The company has established internal regulations stipulating that a non-functioning vending machine is an urgent request that must be resolved within 8 working hours. We deal with the past-due requests separately.
We've had some pushback from our employees when we first introduced Okdesk, of course. Nevertheless, we have overcome our organizational difficulties through centralized training and explanation of key differences and advantages of the new tool for each participant.
"We've gathered our technical specialists together and shown them the key functions of Okdesk: working with a mobile app, filling out key forms and fields; we gave them some other useful tips about it, too. For instance, you can tap the address and your browser will navigate you there—no need to type in anything. Subsequently, we only had to answer one-off individual questions," says Vladislav Blinov.
At the first stage, Megas Vending only used the basic Okdesk's features: registering and keeping track of requests, service facilities & aims, equipment, planning & scheduling. But when everyone became familiar with the basics, the continuous adaptation of extra features for specific tasks of vending machine service began. Each of these improvements has made the work more efficient.
"We're continuously customizing Okdesk for our needs. We're creating additional statuses and transitions, we're expanding the attribute structure, we define the rules and conditions of transitioning between the stages. And it's all right through interface by several clicks. For example, we use separate states to track the time our employees spend en route to the places where we install the machines. This allows us to understand how well we built our logistics," says Vladislav Blinov.
Another example: controlling the time spent to resolve an issue by marking the exact time of arrival on site. Our short-term plans include developing time standards, integrating them for the main types of work we do, and ensuring meeting deadlines.
In order to proactively and quickly get informed about malfunctions, merchandisers — people who restock the machines — were also given access to the system.
"Previously, our operators used to report the malfunctions they detected through the call center or directly to our dispatchers via messengers. Our goal is to reduce the total downtime, so now our teammates create requests in Okdesk mobile app by themselves," says Vladislav Blinov.
We also use Okdesk to prepare the vending machine for the initial installation or moving it to a new location. We assign this special type of request to our warehouse workers or transportation specialists.
"Previously, when we had to prepare a vending machine, we did it the old-fashioned way: we had the full checklist of activities printed and attached on the machine's front. Since Okdesk has a checklist feature, we are going to start using it now," says Vladislav Blinov.
An additional business avenue for the company is tabletop coffee machine rentals. As the Okdesk was being used in the vending business, a system for replacing expendables — water and filters — has also migrated onto this platform. It employs a recurring request feature. In the future, Help Dek sytem may also be used to track the coffee machine customer contracts.
In the next few months, all of the company's vending machines will be fitted with telemetry acquisition modules. These devices will keep track of all products sold and transmit that data to the server. This data will be used to plan routes for the operators. And Okdesk will fit in this key process. Telemetry acquisition modules will also read the machine errors and transmit them directly into the system, automatically creating a repair request.
There are plans to customize the Okdesk basic functionality to keep track of the vending machine parts.
"Integrating Okdesk has changed our workflow for the better. It's much easier to keep track of requests now. We now can track the operation history for each specific vending machine. If a new malfunction occurs after the specialist's visit, the service history and the technicians' comments may help figure out its source. I think all my colleagues should automate their businesses as soon as possible. In my opinion, Okdesk simplifies operations of any company, makes them systematic and more transparent," concludes Vladislav Blinov, Head of IT and Security department.
Okdesk is a handy and efficient automation system for critical business issues & field service