TextExpander Story: Mike Jandreau, Senior Technical Support, at Desk.com

Welcome to another installment of TextExpander Stories. This is an ongoing series where we talk to interesting folks who want to share how they use TextExpander in their particular field, how it’s impacted their work, and maybe even some unique tips on how they do what they do.

This time we talked to Mike Jandreau, a customer support expert whose title is “A Little Nuts” (his words, not ours) at Desk.com, an all-in-one customer support system for small businesses and enterprises alike.

To start, please introduce yourself and what you do for a living.

Hi, I’m Mike Jandreau. As with many folks in a big corporation, my title is a little nuts. But I’m the Systems and Process Lead, Senior Technical Support Engineer, Tier III for Desk.com, a Salesforce company. I’ve been with Salesforce for just over five years, since right before the rebranding to Desk, and right after they acquired Assistly.

That means I’m responsible for building and managing all of our support processes, finding, recruiting, building or facilitating the building of all of the internal tools we use in support.

I also handle a large volume of support cases, both escalations and non escalations. I like to handle front line requests, so I don’t become too far removed from what our front line agents are facing.

And how about what you do for fun?

My hobbies are all over the place! Like most folks, I love music, movies and reading.

I’ve written a book and have been slowly chugging away at my second (though I’ve had carpal tunnel issues for the last 15 months which has made it hard to type in my spare time).

I recently started cycling as a way to get some exercise that doesn’t bore me to death.

I’m an avid drummer and have been playing for 23 years now. I have an electronic drum kit I keep in my office right next to my desk, so I can blow off steam, if needed.

I also have a bit of an obsession with building websites. I run a freelance development company in my spare time, but also like building silly websites just for fun, for myself. Domain names are so cheap nowadays, every time I think I have a brilliant or hilarious idea, I throw together a website for it.

What are some of the challenges in your line of work that TextExpander has helped you address? Where has it been most impactful for you?

Repetitiveness is the biggest killer for my team and I. Even going back to when I started, and there were only two of us in support, handling 20-30 cases a day.

As great as your customer-facing knowledge base may be, you’re still going to have customers who either can’t find the information they’re looking for, don’t understand it, or simply won’t go look for it.

So, you find yourself repeating the same thing over and over again. “How do I reset my password?” is a common one, even though once you’ve done it, it’s completely obvious how the process works. I have a snippet written up explaining how that works.

We also use snippets a lot for tiny things, not always full-blown explanations of complex technical things.

For example, my snippet “cfn” expands to the Liquid variable for {{customer.first_name}}, so as I write a reply in Desk, I don’t have to type out a customer’s name, or accidentally misspell it. I have a bunch of other greeting specific snippets as well, that incorporate the day of the week, time of day, etc. They come in handy for opening a response to the customer without too much thought.

abbreviation: cfn
content: {{customer.first_name}}

If you can remember, think back to your work B.T.E. – Before TextExpander. What were those dark times like?

I did support about a decade ago at Lycos, right as they were on the downward slope. To put it in perspective; when I was hired, there were about 400 employees, which was down from several thousand. When I left 3 years later, I was one of around 40 left. We had to type everything by hand, from the customer’s name, to our signature at the bottom of the email.

During an outage on one of the services one day, my team of three had to respond to around 10,000 messages. Thankfully we just copied and pasted the response, but we were there until well past 3 am that morning, making sure all of the responses went out.

TextExpander, in my opinion, is one of those apps you don’t really realize you can’t live without until you use it for a day or two. Once you lock in your flow of using it, you think “how did I ever live without this?”

Do you remember how you discovered TextExpander?

I’m not sure which, but I saw an ad in either Macworld or MacLife back when they were in print. When I first switched to Mac about 7 years ago, I subscribed to both magazines to help me with the transition. The magazines were beneficial in not only finding a Mac equivalent of an app I’d run on Windows for decades, but also in discovering new apps, like TextExpander, Alfred, Moom, Flux, and countless others that I find myself relying on every day.

If you could pick one thing, what would you most like to see improved or added to TextExpander?

Just one? ?

I’d love to see a breakdown of execution per snippet. I like seeing how many characters I’ve saved and how much typing it’s saved me, but reporting on how many executions I’ve done of each snippet, as well as how many my team have done for shared snippets would be great.

[Note: Check out the TextExpander Team tier for combined team statistics and more team-centered features]

Then I’m able to evaluate which ones are important, delete the unused ones, or tweak the ones that aren’t perfect.

Do you use TextExpander in a team setting? If so, can you share a little bit about what that setting is like?

We do! As of just recently, I’ve gotten more of my team using it. Our application has built in Macros, so a lot of them had been using those, but I did a productivity training to help our agents work more efficiently, and TextExpander was front and center.

Once they saw how it worked, they all wanted to use it.

We’re at 13 people in support now, but there’s a few folks on other teams that use TextExpander, as well. We’re scattered across half a dozen locations and time zones, which makes it hard to collaborate with people you don’t overlap with. For example. My day ends half an hour before our guys in Sydney come online, so I don’t ever get to work with them or talk to them.

I manage our shared snippets, though a couple of other people have Admin access to the folder of snippets. Whenever there’s a change or addition, we post to a Slack channel dedicated to updates for our support team. This goes beyond TextExpander changes, but it’s a channel clear of chit chat, focusing only on things our team needs to know have changed or been added.

Could you share a couple snippets that are specific to your industry?

This one is used when customers who use Desk for support want to evenly distribute support cases amongst Agents.

“Here’s why we don’t suggest evenly distributing your case load:

Let’s say you have two Agents (for simplicity’s sake). Let’s call them Jake and Michelle.

Michelle reads and types twice as fast as Jake.

(This is starting to sound like one of those word problems from high school, I’m sorry about that!)

If you evenly distribute 50 cases to each of them on Monday, in theory, Michelle will finish twice as fast as Jake, because she reads and types faster than he does.

Let’s say each case takes 5 minutes to read through, research, and respond to.

That means Michelle’s total handle time for her 50 cases is 250 minutes (4 hours 15 minutes, give or take.) If Jake is twice as slow, that means Michelle’s done with her 50 cases before Jake’s done with half of his.

So when Jake gets to his 26th case, Michelle could take Jake’s 27th and 28th. When Jake gets to his 29th case, Michelle could take Jake’s 30th and 31st.

So if you evenly distribute, you’ll a) have Michelle sitting around twiddling her thumbs, and b) Jake’s second half of customers will have to wait for Jake to catch up with himself while Michelle’s customers are all already helped.

I realize that’s a completely corner case scenario and there’s a lot of other factors (not every case takes the same amount of time, not all Agents vary that much in speed, etc.), but it’s a good example of why perfectly distributing cases isn’t always the best workflow.

That said, if you do want to evenly distribute the cases, routing isn’t the way to go. You’d want to do this manually by grabbing a whole page of cases (30 at a time) and assigning them out to each Agent evenly.

The catch there is that you’d have to keep track of how many cases each Agent gets. If you get through assigning out 10, you have to remember who to give the 11th to, and so on.”

— An old favorite for how to clear your cache:

“Hey there {{customer.first_name}},

Thanks for reaching out! I hope you’re having an excellent Tuesday so far!

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having some troubles, but I’d be happy to help you get to the bottom of this!

This type of issue is usually resolved with a simple browser cache clearing. This’ll tell your computer to go out to Desk and get the latest version of the files, which resolves the issue in most cases.

If you’re unsure on how to do that, just head to refreshyourcache.com, it’s got a step by step guide on how to clear the cache on every different browser type there is.

Just make sure to clear your entire cache for “all time” and not just today or this week.

If that doesn’t resolve your issue, let me know and I’ll take another look for you!”

Can you share a couple of your TextExpander stats?

Here’s my usage since that upgrade last year:

14,997 snippets expanded 1,167,505 characters saved 29.94 hours at 130WPM

Overall, I’d put my totals somewhere in the 4x range of those numbers, factoring in all my inadvertent total-wipe-and-rebuild Mac resets.

We thank Mike for taking the time to share his story and how TextExpander has improved his team’s productivity at Desk. If you have a story to tell, let us know. Keep up with our tips, and stories, on Twitter @TextExpander or on LinkedIn.