Olan Mills Inc., a privately held chain of portrait studios, closed its 900 mom-and-pop retail outfits two years ago and took up residence in 1,100 Kmart stores across the country. At the same time, the Chattanooga, Tenn., company bought a point-of-sale system that required ongoing IT support. But Olan Mills' help-desk software was complex and difficult to use, making it tough to get quick answers to problems, and that affected the service customers received. That's why Pete Cole, Olan Mills' field liaison manager, decided to deploy help-desk software, so that retail employees could find answers online or from the help desk on everything from film processing to point-of-sale and printout systems.
Cole evaluated several options, including software from Great Plains Software Inc. and Magic Solutions. He selected Magic's package for several reasons. He says he liked the browser-based application for problem and asset management. Also, the self-service help app gives employees online access to common queries, such as how to send a file from a photographer to a store's computer. By getting quick answers to such queries, Olan Mills will be able to better serve its customers, which Cole says is particularly important for the upcoming holiday season.
Moving to Magic has also reduced the time needed to train employees on the help-desk app. "On the old system, it took anywhere from four to six months to train someone because it was so cumbersome," Cole says. Employees learned Magic's application in three weeks.
There are also other cost benefits. Because help-desk employees can navigate the new system more easily than the old one, they can handle more calls. Cole was able to eliminate one full-time position from the help-desk staff, saving about $25,000 a year.
In the three months Olan Mills has been using the system, Cole has been able to more easily identify common problems. For the first time, he's able to identify the reasons for some of those problems. For example, he noticed several help-desk entries about modem connections. By tracking the inquiries and their resolution, Cole determined the cause of the problem was a lack of training. As a result, he plans to establish more training. "Without the software," he says, "we'd have no way of knowing what was causing this problem."