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Launching a #help Slack Channel

Highlanders faced a common problem that many organizations struggle with: no one knew who to go to for help with work-related issues. Our expertise was siloed into individual team members, and it was hard to know who to turn to for support unless you had a deep organizational knowledge of Highland.

Hypothesis

By creating an open, public forum for problem-solving, we could support Highlanders more effectively and efficiently.

Experiment

Our goal was to create one place where we could solve all problems. (All work-related problems, that is. You’ve still got to figure out what went wrong with your GrubHub order on your own.)

We previously had a help[at]highlandsolutions.com email that would route help requests to a ticketing software. Those requests were then handled by a member of our Operations Team. Even though this system had been in place for years, it wasn’t used regularly. Once new Highlanders were acquainted with who knew what, they would just ask their preferred expert in person or via Slack.

We decided to do away with the unnecessary email barrier and set up a #help Slack channel instead. We decided this would be the singular place to solve any problem Highlanders needed help with — from a spill in the kitchen to changing a PO number in our accounting system to registering a domain name.

When we launched the channel, we posted this message to fill Highlanders in on what was happening:

When a request is made, an available Operations Team member claims it so that two people aren’t working on the same request at the same time. We use Slack’s handy emoji checkmark to mark a request as done.

The Operations Team committed to responding to all requests within an hour. We hold one another accountable to this commitment by reviewing the #help channel on our daily Operations standup. If a request hasn’t been completed or is currently in progress, it gets prioritized in our queue.

Result

Highlanders love the #help channel. Problems get solved quickly, and there’s no confusion or diffusion of responsibility about where to turn when assistance is needed.

It seems the #help channel has also contributed to some skill-sharing and team-building. Often, Highlanders who aren’t on the Operations Team will jump in to help solve a problem if they know the answer. Most Highlanders keep the channel on mute and just use it when they need assistance, so it’s not a disruption to their day.

Here are just an example #help channel in action:

We highly recommend implementing a #help channel at your organization. It’s been an incredibly simple change that has made a big impact in the way we work at Highland.

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