Hawke Media – An Obie Customer Success Story

There are a few common reasons why companies adopt Obie as an internal support tool. Frequently they involve making knowledge more accessible and have closer proximity to the employee’s workflow. In a little more detail, here are some of the scenarios that we support: 

  1. They are looking to build their first knowledge base that has a more robust feature set than what they currently have (eg. a Google Drive folder that is poorly structured and has poorly maintained documents).
  2. They want a simple, Slack-compatible FAQ knowledge format to handle the most common questions asked by employees in growing companies
  3. They have an existing knowledge silo such as Confluence that they are not willing or able to abandon, but want to enhance its search capabilities and make it more compatible with modern work operating systems like Slack.
  4. They want to deflect support tickets and requests in Slack, with more readily available knowledge, and if inadequate, enable the support seeker to create their own IT support ticket in Jira Service Management, without leaving the Slack workflow.

Of these scenarios, #3 is an interesting use-case to explore in the context of one of our customer success stories. Hawke Media, a Los Angeles based consulting firm onboarded Obie to solve three main problems:

  • To bring an intelligent search to their Google Drive folder structure which, admittedly has grown quite messy over the years.
  • To integrate their Google Drive knowledge silo with Slack to make it instantly searchable and sharable.
  • To give agents faster access to support documentation to reduce shoulder tapping and distractions in a period of rapid company growth and onboarding. 

We interviewed Alex Kyle, Director of Paid Social and Special Projects at Hawke Media. His department employs about 15 agents who primarily use Obie, but the product is deployed org-wide to accelerate the individual work of approximately 140 people.

We asked Alex about what their support-based workflows looked like before Obie was deployed and what problem they were trying to solve. 

“Hawke agency moves very, very fast in part due to its consultancy nature, and also the fact that we deal with a lot of small businesses who are going to be moving at a faster pace by virtue of their growth stage. As a result, there wasn’t a whole lot of attention paid to the process of data archive and storage and organization. Moreover, as employees moved on from the company or implemented systems that were not entirely complete, the Hawke team Google Drive became increasingly fragmented. It was difficult to find the actual collateral in the drive itself. We have a lot of evergreen documents that we need to be attentive to, other tools that are being developed that help with strategy, planning and forecasting that may or may not be known.”

To summarize, the challenges they face are:

  • Fast-paced workflows and customer requirements
  • Poor organization and slow access to knowledge in a silo that they are unable to abandon or the time/resources to fix
  • Frequent access to documents that support various parts of the business

These challenges create an internal support bottleneck that had to be overcome. Alex explains the practicalities of a lack of readily available knowledge.

“[Collateral] may have been lost due to the spread of files that exist on the server… sales often needs collateral or educational material to speak authoritatively to prospects about what the actual technology and service is, so there was a lot of shoulder taps that [occur when accurate knowledge can’t be found quickly and easily].”

When we asked Alex what success with Obie looked like, he had a very clear and straightforward vision.

“The initial ask for Obie was to sort of reduce the number of shoulder taps between [sales and marketing]… we have a lot of sales reps, who are like “Hey I’ve got this question, I need to know this thing”…”

Shoulder taps are a common nuisance for growing teams. The newly onboarded employees tend to leverage the expertise of more tenured subject matter experts. Unfortunately, this creates lost productivity for not only the support-seeker, but those being asked the questions as well. The subject matter experts are distracted, then have to shift focus from their work, and then source an answer that they will share with the asker. As you can imagine, multiple asks per day for multiple newly onboarded employees adds up to a lot of lost time and productivity.

enable self serve it support confluence create ticket

Alex elaborates on the compounding impact of these frequent disruptions.

“From a workflow perspective, it takes about 10 minutes to disengage from what you’re doing, then re-engage after we do the actual ask… so that was just [multiplying] across fifteen different contributors, four pods and a BD team of a dozen or so – there was just a lot of inefficiency being caused by the shoulder taps. I want to make sure that as much of it as much of it was as automated as possible. So that was the original scope of the effort was to make it easier for our team to access collateral and make it more efficient for BD to do their jobs by being able to access the relevant material that they need. That grew in scope to the encompass the entire agency, multiple team drives and organizational assets that are not only on our team but also on cloud storage spaces like with Box”

When we asked how Alex and his team landed on Obie as a solution, and about the evaluation and procurement period to understand how difficult it was to get the approval of various stakeholders in the organization.

“I was looking for an automation or AI service that was able to [organize or help us]. [F]rom my knowledge of automation, anything that’s repeatable can be automated. And if we’re getting the same request over and over and over again from different stakeholders of the BD team or Media team, there’s almost certainly a tool that would be able to help us out with that. So I think I did a quick Google search and I found Obie via a Slack recommendation, pitched it to BD, pitched it to the Head of Services, and did some pricing [analysis]. And [we found that] even on a very low level implementation would be far outpaced even in the first month of onboarding. It was still decided to be that it would still save time over the course of a month. That’s with 15 contributors saving a couple hours departmentally per week. Then extrapolating that out to the entire audience of one hundred fifty contributors, saving a couple hours per team per week, quickly paid for itself”

Alex’s approach to the evaluation of Obie was fairly simple. Introduce the concept to some of the senior management and identify the potential cost savings in relation to the cost of onboarding and deploying Obie org-wide. They concluded that the savings created by recuperated productivity would far outweigh the cost of an org-wide license for Obie. From their perspective, the Obie solution has a compelling ROI.

We decided to drill a bit deeper into the ROI analysis that Alex had completed, because it’s often difficult to quantify the outcome for productivity tools like Obie. For a team of 150, the cost of Obie is typically $399/month. Was Alex able to exceed this cost in time savings? Here is what he shared:

“The way I quantified it is I timed myself in an optimal [workflow] path and then sub optimal [workflow] path [to find] the [collateral] that I was looking for. [Then assuming that this pattern happens] three or four [times] every day, I just average that across a number of calls that I saw through analytics in Obie. We’re saving upwards of 80 hours a month departmentally and the billing rate of one hundred and $150 per hour, which is sort of the rule of thumb for our billing hours. It’s we’re very much in the black with time cost savings.”

So conservatively speaking, in a world where billable hours are the gold standard of cost and value, Alex estimates that the team saves 80 hours/month of productive time at a cost of $150/hour. That works out to $12,000 savings per month. This equates to a 3007% ROI based on a subscription to the Obie Pro Plan.

We’re saving upwards of 80 hours a month departmentally and the billing rate of one hundred and $150 per hour.

Alex Kyle on how Hawke saves $12k/month using Obie

This ROI is extremely compelling but enough financial numbers for now, let’s focus on how the onboarding workflow improved for Hawke Media.

“During the onboarding process and educating [staff on how to use] Obie I made it abundantly clear, how you would use it when you use it. [I tell them] that [the answer is] either going to be in the knowledgebase or it’s going to be in Google Drive… I think that it was like 50 or 60 percent instantaneously adopted [Obie]… The remaining 50 or 40 percent of individuals took months of showing and talking about it, here’s the value…. [To help them along], I had to codify the naming conventions within Google Drive to be easily picked up by Obie on a number of different searches. I’ve noticed that a lot of other individuals have been doing the same. If BD does a shoulder tap saying, “I need help with this” rather than going to the Drive and navigating the labyrinth, therein, it’s just a matter of using the slash-obie command, a couple of keywords, and bam, fire it off.”

So as Alex infers, onboarding employees onto Obie, new or tenured, is a fairly straightforward process that requires very little training. In most cases, adoption is rapid and sticky org-wide. Employees might need the occasional reminder to “Ask Obie first, before you ask someone else!”, but that is eventually overcome successfully.

When we asked Alex, what else the team likes about Obie beyond its core use case, they said this:

“We’ve been using the Obie FAQ system for pretty extensively… [for example], if [anyone asks a question like], “Does anyone know how to help me set up a tracking pixel?”, Obie will automatically parse that question in a channel with NLP, find the relevant FAQ, and automatically serve it… so we’ve taken potentially a four-and-a-half hour screen-share session and boiled it down to less than five minutes.”

Alex continued to say…

“[Obie is] just so nice. It’s just one of those things where, the first two months in this role as a Director for Hawke, I got a lot of questions and a lot of things that needed to be answered, policies that needed to be instituted and knowledge that existed but hadn’t been communicated. And facilitating that communication through an automated platform, through that knowledge base just made my life a lot more pleasant because I didn’t have to constantly battle all these individual one off asks like “hey does this do this?” “What’s the pricing on Y service?” “Do you know where the N document is? Everyone feels that they are getting value out of being able to contribute their own FAQs [to build a personal knowledge base]. That practice of just searching first, asking questions later, has yielded a lot of time saving in itself and also kept everyone else focused. They don’t have to do the shoulder taps. So it’s like a rising tide that lifts all boats.”

We asked Alex about the kind of work that was required as the administrator of the Obie account, what one could expect from occupying that role.

“I’ve educated people on how to show and submit FAQs, but ultimately I was the one who would go in, codify it, put in the keywords, put it in the recommended practises perhaps with references back into the repository document. I’m making sure that I’m communicating with the actual stakeholders themselves about what it is that they’re actually looking to answer from questions. So it did take a little bit of a heavier lift on my end just because I was the sole administrator of the account, but at the same time being able meet with individuals and break down what the information that they wanted share is and how it should be presented and what is important information vs not important information, was useful. I think by having me be the central point of contact for the account as a whole I was able to format everything in a pretty coherent naming convention system, which facilitates adoption…”

Alex is following our recommendation that an administrator take an active role in managing the knowledge base by way of the admin dashboard. While Obie is a plug-and-play tool, it requires ongoing maintenance to verify the knowledge and ensure that the correct information is available to support seekers. By Alex’s account, it is a very manageable task.

Deploying knowledge management solutions can be a daunting task. We asked Alex what that process looked like from his perspective. 

“Almost frictionless. So, switching over to an Obie-based platform and just connecting the pipes to Google Drive and Box has been pretty straightforward. Almost no technical hiccups whatsoever. There’s been obviously [the work of] building up the knowledge base on the material, and that’s an ongoing project. But from an “Is it on? Is it doing it’s job?” thing, I never had any problems.”

So, from Alex’s perspective, Obie works just like any other Slack bot. You add it to your Slack workspace, connect your integrations, and other than the maintenance of the knowledge, its good to go. Easy!

We asked Alex if he had any advice for teams that are newly adopting Obie and if he had any final thoughts on Obie. 

“Obie is really reliable. It looks really simple but is incredibly useful. For Hawke Media in particular, our team Google Drive has been sort of like an unmanaged wilderness. This [Google Drive] will be five or six years old, with no consistent effort or organization. That was one of the things that I recognized coming into this role and I wanted to make sure we’re able to find things quickly. And Obie helped solve that need on almost day one… it’s incredibly useful if your organization starts getting to that threshold where it’s increasingly difficult to find what is necessary, and people are relying on shoulder taps to actually get their jobs done. I think that’s really where Obie’s going to shine. And from a personal perspective, if I go to any org in the future, it’s like “we have a really hard time finding stuff”, I absolutely know what to do.”

If you use Slack and Google Drive like Hawke Media (or maybe you use Confluence, Dropbox, Box, Zendesk or one of Obie’s 16+ other knowledge integrations) and you are facing an insurmountable number of frequently asked questions and shoulder taps, its time to explore options for accelerating your team workflows.

Would you be interested in a tool that saves your team 80+ hours/month and $12k/month in productivity costs? If so, book a consultation with one of Obie’s workflow specialists to learn more about our platform.