meidos: (vocaloid * laugh it all off)
mあddy ([personal profile] meidos) wrote2016-10-03 08:15 pm


I just need to document my customer service experience

We use a web-based program called MPulse at the zoo to manage maintenance requests. We've had it for a year, and it works by requesters inputting maintenance problems that get sent to us in facility operations (facops), then we can track our time, what materials we used, etc. Then we have a record of what areas cost how much to maintain, how much manhour we use per area, etc etc. It's very useful and works really well so far.

However, until recently, only select people could input requests. Basically at our zoo, the keepers are below the curators, who are in charge of certain areas. For example, elephant keepers are under the Elephant/Hoofstock/Birds curator, who is in charge of -- yeah, you get it. So if an elephant keeper had a problem in the elephant house, they had to notify the curator, usually by text message or offhand comment when they see them. As you can imagine, this got us fuck-all info on the facops end. We'd essentially always need to take two trips out to fix the problem - trip one to gather info, trip two to actually return with what we needed.

We wanted this to change, but curators were (very understandably) unsure about how - keepers are notoriously lazy or hands-on, there is no in between. Keepers will either call you over to turn a screw for them, or get angry that you're here to clear their drain when they'd prefer to do it themselves. Everyone is different, and that makes doing maintenance kind of a pain for us because we have no control over the keepers - the curators do. The curators could easily nip in stupid requests in the bud and also know when not to send us out to do stuff the keepers could do themselves; essentially, the curators wanted oversight.

Luckily, we found a way to do it! MPulse has an approval system. Basically, if a keeper inputs a request, the request will first get sent to their curator, who will either approve or deny the request. If approved, the request gets sent to us in facops. Perfect!

Except, it's a computer, so it breaks. I was sent off to Oregon in July to learn the ins and outs of MPulse in a very informative (read: I spent most of it on Twitter) one week session. When I returned, I immediately got to work at creating the approval system. This did not go as planned. I finally flipped enough tables and got the general curator (boss of all the curators and, coincidentally, the kind woman who allowed me to stay with her for a couple weeks when I moved here. she's incredible and I love her) to set a date. October 3. Never forget.

So I wire up the approval process and meet with the curators to explain it. It's pretty straightforward - the accounts they currently use get bumped up a level and are given approval authority. Requests submitted by keepers beneath them get e-mailed to the curator, the curator logs on and approves/denies the request, approved requests get e-mailed to facops, everyone is happy.

After my first powerpoint presentation on this and I looked around at the room of dull-faced old women, the gencur suddenly said, "What about when they go on vacation?"


I wracked my brain for a couple days, then went to speak to the gencur and, in the middle of the conversation, came up with the plan - instead of bumping up the approval authority of the curators, I'll simply make new accounts. Now, instead of the curator having her own account, there would simply be a ghost account for the entire department. This would allow the senior keepers (basically second in command) to access requests when the curator is out for any period of time, as well as on their weekends (zoo keepers have notoriously weird schedules, thanks, animals). This also fixed another issue I was having, in that the curators themselves still wanted to submit requests, but placing the curators as needing to approve themselves with the same account made MPulse completely explode and shut down on me. Now that I could simply place the approval account as a ghost entity, all that was solved!

Except, no. So, what I did was, for example, the Hospital account was set up so that if a requester's supervisor was listed as the vet, their requests would be routed to the Hospital account for approval. I also included a second filter - if the requester was the vet, they would be routed to the Hospital account. I set up all the accounts like this, then created a facops account to catch everything else. It was very, very haphazard and held together with string and bubblegum, but when I tested it, it was working. It was working! We could do this.

So, October 3. I had met with around half the keepers by this point and both sessions had gone by very easily. I'd also met with the senior keepers to introduce them to the approval process which went similarly smoothly. I drafted an e-mail addressed to the whole zoo and wanted my super to review it before I sent it because I'm pretty awful at being succinct, and while I waited on her to be free, pulled open an account of a girl named Claire who works in bears. I stripped her e-mail off and stuck on a throwaway and replaced my e-mail onto the Carnivores' approval account, just to make sure it routed correctly, then sent a test request from Claire's account. And it correctly routed to Carnivores!

And also to Maintenance.

And to Primates/Farm/Reptiles.

I panicked and sent out an e-mail to all curators asking them to disregard any test e-mails at this time, then quickly saved that the whole zoo e-mail in my drafts. I still haven't sent it.

So I call up MPulse and finally speak with a representative. By this point, most of the tech support people know me, because I keep having issues with this fucking approval shit. I get Bob and say "HEY BOB, GUESS WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!" and Bob attempts to help me, but neither of us can figure out what the fuck is wrong. Eventually Bob suggests it may be because I have two filters per approver routing, and that might be fucking with the system. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, I think, but thank him and say I will try routing with a single filter instead. Surely there's a drop-down I can choose in the approval filter that will let me route by area or something, right?


MPulse even comes with custom fields you can fill in yourself but for some fucking reason the fields included for routing only include those on the request itself and not on the requester's employee record. It's stupid. It sucks. In practice it works really well and is helpful but for this it sucks so much I want to punt it. But I do notice something that we don't use and I can basically vore into a ghost field. That field is Requester Address #2. We don't really care where the business address of our employees are because we all work at the same fucking zoo so I go into the field editor and change the second business address line, like where you write your apartment number, into APPROVAL FILTER. Then I write in every. Single. Employee's. Approval filter.

I'd told the curators I wanted MPulse up and running for the keepers by noon. It was now 12:05.

I went to lunch and when I came back, tested Claire's account and my account and found it worked. It fucking worked. It worked and it was correct. Things weren't routing to three fucking accounts. It fucking worked and I fixed it. Fuck you MPulse.

So the last step, the last goddamn step, is changing the e-mail notification. I saved this for last just because I kept forgetting about it. Basically the e-mail notifs were set up to e-mail my boss every time a request came in, pinging it by seeing that the request status was "Pending." However, now that we had approval set up, we needed to change that request status to "Approved." This is really simple. Just delete the filter and re-create it with the same criteria. Just change "Pending" to "Approved" so that we don't accidentally start working on shit without the curator knowing about it first. Simple shit. I do it, file a fake request, and tell my boss when he gets the notification e-mail.

Half an hour passes.

I ask if he got it. He says no. I hurl my entire computer out into the street.

I call up MPulse. Speak to Todd this time. Todd and I chat for forty. Fucking. Minutes. In those forty minutes, I walked him through how to set up filters on his own software and how to set up notifications on his own software and how the approval process works on his own fucking software. Highlights include him mistyping something and saying "I guess I get nervous when I'm talking to you!" (WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE) and deciding randomly to set two filters on the e-mail routing, one being "approved" and one being "within the past week" (WHAT?? DOES THAT MATTER??? YOU ALREADY KNOW YOUR SOFTWARE EXPLODES WITH EVEN THE SLIGHTEST AMOUNT OF INTENSITY WHY ARE YOU ADDING EXTRA FILTERS YOU--). At the end of the call, he asks, somewhat worriedly, "Has anything you've tried on MPulse ever worked for you?"

I'm at a loss for words.

Yes, I want to snap, it was all working great back when we were using it as a bare-bones system and not like the huge maintenance assistant tool like you purport it to be. It was working fine before I went to your freaking one week program in Oregon and learned jack-all that I could have picked up just futzing around for a few hours anyway (not like I have those few hours, though, so thanks).

"Yep," I say, "it was routing e-mails correctly before."

Eventually we part ways with him promising to look into it. As I hang up, I see six e-mails suddenly leap into my inbox. Two are e-mail notifications, notifying me of the same request, that it was marked as approved. The e-mails I had been trying to get. I panic, trying to figure out where they came from, how, like what the hell, what worked, and finally submit another request, approve it. Wait.

4:27. Nothing.

I slam my fist through my screen and tell my boss I'm going home.
meaka: (/CRUSHES)

[personal profile] meaka 2016-10-04 02:00 am (UTC)(link)
Sweet Jesus what a nightmare