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How atSpoke helped Handshake increase productivity

Handshake, founded to address inequality in career opportunities for students across the country, is the #1 place for college students to find jobs and internships. Operating on its core value to “move quickly, but don’t rush,” Handshake filled a gap in the market by connecting Fortune 500 companies through university partners with the right future employees.

As the company grew and their headcount increased, they faced the acute challenge of needing to scale their internal operations to handle the huge influx of questions from employees. Answering questions ad-hoc was no longer scalable, leaving team members unable to get their work done.

“With this new growth and the development of several internal teams, we’ve seen the need to introduce a ticketing system to help scale operations as the team grows,” said Melissa Buckley, Associate People Business Partner at Handshake. They started their search with three objectives: automate common requests to make more time for priority projects, make it easy for employees to request or find information, and help internal teams be more accountable and measure their impact. They first looked at their existing internal tools, like Jira and Managed by Q, but the incumbent tools required training for end-users and they wanted a solution that was easily accessible by all employees. After evaluating several other HR and IT tools, atSpoke addressed all three objectives and more.

Automated 30% of requests for more time and less context switching

At the beginning of 2019, three members of the People team were supporting 90 employees at Handshake. By mid-year, the employee headcount number doubled to 180, while the size of the People Ops team remained the same.

The People Ops team created Slack channels called #help-people and #help-new-hires. The goal was to answer all questions in the channel within an hour. This meant they were always monitoring Slack, even when they get home from work. The constant daily upkeep of menial tasks made it difficult for the team to plan ahead. “We spend a lot of time being reactive to people’s questions and want the bandwidth to be proactive, and to think about what’s coming up in the next three to six months”, Emily Volberding, Employee Experience and People Programs Manager, shared. “Getting pulled into a Slack conversation is context switching that’s really hard to come back from,” she continues.

After setting up atSpoke, 30% of employee requests were automatically resolved, regardless of how the questions were worded because of atSpoke’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) and a deep understanding of workplace requests. With time back in their workday, the team scaled back their manual processes and had more time for bigger initiatives.

Employees make requests and get what they need without leaving Slack

Before atSpoke, it was difficult for employees at Handshake to find the HR information they needed. The People team built out resources that lived in various places. Google Docs would have benefits details. The employee handbook had policy and compliance information. Google Drive folders, Confluence articles, and wiki pages existed for employees to reference. Since there wasn’t one repository for everything, employees spent too much time looking for the right information and would resort to asking someone on the People team. That created an endless loop of repetitive work for the People team to answer the same questions repeatedly. And employees spent too much time waiting for a response just to get their work done.

Users now get what they need when they need it from where they work: Slack! They easily make their requests via Slack, using DMs and @mentions, and email. All requests are automatically turned into atSpoke tickets, then auto-triaged to the proper team with no human intervention. Since using atSpoke, Handshake is able to account for 83% of tickets coming through Slack. atSpoke’s integration has the ability to auto-answer or create a ticket ensuring accountability. Emily Volberding, Employee Experience and People Programs Manager, said: “atSpoke worked flawlessly from the beginning and no training was needed for employees – they just ‘got it’ and we saw responses back like ‘love this’”. Now that the team has better visibility into their colleague’s needs, they’re able to make data-driven decisions.

Metrics give insight into common requests and task status for better self-help and visibility

Without one central help desk solution, it was difficult to keep track of completed tasks. Tasks would accidentally fall through the cracks because the team was inundated with numerous individual asks from different channels. “Prior to atSpoke, we would field questions from individuals and not have a way to track how often a certain question was asked,” said Emily. The team wanted to improve the knowledge base they already built but did not have insight on what information would help reduce the number of requests requiring a team member to resolve.

After implementing atSpoke, the People Ops used the request metrics to tailor the knowledge base responses and process documents for the most common questions and requests. Emily shared, “With atSpoke, we can see that many new hires ask a specific question about their benefits; rather than answering each of these questions separately, we can add the information to our internal benefits guide and point all new hires to that.” In addition to the metrics, they also had newfound accountability – no more duplicate work, no more “did anyone do this?”, and no more missed tasks.

Initially, Handshake used atSpoke for the IT and HR team. After six months, the team reviewed the metrics and they saw a significant increase in both teams’ productivity because of the quick resolution times, high auto-resolve rate, and volume of questions. Handshake expanded atSpoke to 15 other teams, helping more employees be available and accountable to their colleagues. This was possible because everyone was able to use atSpoke from Slack, eliminating the need to train users on a new process or change their existing work habits.

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