When weary travelers swipe their hotel room passkeys and set their heavy bags down, the first thing most want to do is put up their tired feet and check in with friends and family online. But what happens if guests can’t log on to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network?
For modern hotels, providing guests with reliable Wi-Fi isn’t an option—it’s a business necessity. That’s why the hospitality industry, among others, turns to companies like CCI Systems to design, construct, build, and manage their communications networks.
Based in the small town of Iron Mountain, Michigan, CCI’s reach extends far beyond the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior. From installing hundreds of miles of fiber-optic cable across rural Wisconsin to wiring Midwestern power substations on a moment’s notice, the company has earned a reputation for high-quality, professional service over its 60-year history.
Maintaining that reputation takes a dedicated customer service organization—one that works 24/7 to help clients. CCI’s NEAT application, provides real-time network and device performance data is used in conjunction with Zendesk ticketing by managing internal IT requests and network operations issues.
When CCI first rolled out Zendesk in 2015, it was strictly for the IT department—but the company soon realized that the solution could play a big role in support for the call center, the NEAT application, and finally for its Network Operations Center. Accustomed to creating solutions on its own, CCI had initially developed its own customer service tools to help agents manage tickets, but the cost and effort of employing developers to continually build and tweak that system soon proved untenable, said Jacob Shields, senior manager of CCI’s call center. After considering several leading providers, CCI narrowed the search down to the solution its IT team already had success with: Zendesk. Then, discovering that several partners had come to the same conclusion sealed the deal.“Being able to natively integrate with partners was one of the biggest pieces that we were really looking at,” Shields said. “We knew that we had to be able to communicate with them openly and share information using internal comments. There’s things we don’t always need to share on the customer ticket, but we need to be able to share comments back and forth with partners. That was the challenge with our internal application—partners would try to send something back to us, but the customer always had the ability to see it.”Beyond better integration with its partners, CCI saw an opportunity to improve its management of service-level agreements and to drive customer self-service by adding comments to tickets that pointed toward helpful knowledge base articles, of which there are more than 500.
Each year since then, CCI has expanded its use of Zendesk, which now helps several support teams manage a heavy workload of more than 17,000 tickets each month. That expansion has led to a transformation in its business—agents now have more information on hand and a global view of their customers, which means faster resolution times and greater flexibility and scalability, Shields said.“Some of the information agents may not have been seen before, such as total ticket counts of how many times a previous location or a hotel has called in,” Shields explained. “So they can now see if they’re dealing with a problem hotel or a location that has been active. It gives agents a good indicator about what’s going on and they’re able to quickly dive in. There’s a lot more intuitive information right there in front of them.”Shields believes that using Zendesk’s platform has helped CCI grow its business. “Through our partnership with Zendesk, we’re building credibility that CCI is able to problem-solve,” he said. “And I think the reporting is probably one of the biggest positives. We’re able to get the reporting that everyone needs, and it doesn’t take long to pull the right data.”
CCI is a small-town company at heart, so making sure customers get the support they need is more than just good business—it’s a way of life. When a hotel customer’s Wi-Fi network goes down, CCI takes it personally. “Especially in a hotel, one of the first things you’re gonna look at is if the hotel offers Wi-Fi,” Shields said. “If they do, then how is the support? If you have a problem and and the support isn’t good, you’re probably not going to stay there again.”CCI uses the Zendesk API to pull data from NEAT, which is then surfaced in Zendesk to agents and clients. “That gives us an overview on each individual property and ties together overall monitoring,” Shields said. “So as a hotel GM or property manager for apartment complexes, I can get an overview of what the health of my property looks like, any tickets that are open, and the status of those tickets. Are my tenants or my guests being helped, and are tickets being followed up on? If not, I can add a comment back and ask for a status update or work on getting the issue escalated on behalf of the tenant or guest.”Because the very nature of CCI’s business is incredibly complex, the company worked closely with Zendesk’s Professional Services team to implement the solution the right way. “We wanted to make sure we had configurations set up appropriately and that we were using features and functionality in the best way for our unique use case,” Shields said. “Zendesk walked us through all that, made sure we were really covered, and now the Customer Success team has been walking us through making sure those best practices are implemented. They’ve been great on following up with us.”
For Shields and other managers, Zendesk’s ease-of-use meant being able to jump into monitoring tickets right away. “The learning curve to use it proficiently is probably greater, but very easy for people like myself to utilize from day one” said Sparky Farwell, Director of Networks Operations.As CCI has expanded its use of Zendesk, it has also taken advantage of tools available in the Apps Marketplace, such as Field Marshal to manage conditional fields and the User Data app to ˜provide greater customer context for agents. Meanwhile, the teams have been exploring using the Slack integration app to link its internal communication tool with Zendesk.With each new app or integration, CCI knows that it can rely on Zendesk to lend support and training. “The personal relationship we have with our account manager is phenomenal,” Shields said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to build these types of bonds and relationships.”