MAF PNG uses Zoho Desk to stay informed and continue saving lives

Todd AebischerCountry Director – Papua New Guinea

MAF Papua New Guinea: The Organisation

MAF PNG has operated in Papua New Guinea continuously since 1951, serving remote communities through aviation. Using the Cessna Caravan, C208 aircraft MAF PNG was able to overcome the physical barriers that prevented the locals from having access to healthcare, education, safe water and the Gospel. Additionally, education and counselling support were provided for these isolated communities to initiate physical and spiritual transformation. MAF PNG also partners with the local communities, local church groups, missionaries, NGOs, development and relief agencies, and government departments who are working to change the lives of those living in remote areas. To support their daily, high-volume operations, technology remains an important component for sustaining MAF's programmes and ensuring that resources from investments and donations are carefully managed.

In using Zoho Desk, the aim is to narrow down the communication gaps between the teams and beneficiaries so that swift actions can be taken to dispatch help and allow severe cases to receive it quickly.

Archaic platforms and communication silos delayed help to remote areas

When Todd Aebischer, Country Director – Papua New Guinea, was appointed four years ago, the PNG base was still using archaic platforms. Many of the requests for service and follow-ups were communicated via emails, post it notes, or orally and were commonly overlooked as they were not as lasting as those digitally documented in a centralised portal.

However, a ticketing system became necessary when community numbers started increasing, eventually reaching over 200 communities. On top of this, MAF operates across 12 bases from the West border, next to Indonesia, to the eastern edge of the mainland of Papua New Guinea.

"Each base did their own thing," says Todd. "There are no air services in the world that operates in such a decentralised fashion where health authorities had to coordinate with each base individually for vaccine distributions."


The catalyst for change

The last straw was when the MAF PNG team had to witness the demise of a medical evacuation patient. The incident stemmed from various failures in the communication process between the village, the base, and the pilots needing to make the flight. "By the time the right team was informed, the patient was too far gone says Todd. Making it a point that this should never happen again, MAF turned to Zoho Desk to initiate the process of organizing overlapping communication across the country. It soon became the go-to intel source for its current operations.

Turning on the turbo with case escalation

Todd first came across Zoho in 2013, and the brand resurfaced to his mind after he joined MAF. In his research then, he recognised Zoho in an article that featured the top 5 customer service platforms.

The MAF operation centre now uses Zoho Desk as their main accountability structure. Every email, phone call, or WhatsApp text that comes in are immediately converted as tickets in Zoho Desk and directed to the appropriate staff and bases where they are taken care of. From emailing and making support calls to arranging flight schedules, these activities are now given a more streamlined view to prioritise the work. Before Zoho Desk was utilised, emails sent would either get lost in the process or overwritten. Todd recounted an incident where a report lay around without being seen and only reappeared after 4 years as it got dug out from a physical repository. Now with an overwriting piece of software, MAF is able to push the data from Zoho Desk to their in-house tool, which immediately books a flight based on the information shared by the stakeholders.

Apart from offering a centralised view of all the queries and a systematic flow of information, Zoho Desk has also helped MAF escalate requests to the respective departments in case of long delays. The Zoho Desk functions are also utilised by the internal departments of MAF PNG like HR, security, maintenance, and others to track day-to-day requests and complaints.

Defined as a centralised ticketing system, Zoho Desk unifies information and tickets that come from various channels. The presence of an accountability structure like Desk now expands the visibility of communication activities like call logs so that arranged flights are taking off on the intended schedule. "Our staff documents what we do in Zoho Desk, which allows anybody within the system to pick up a call now and search the person they are talking to and find the exact status of where things are at," adds Todd.

Today, with access to such context, every agent in MAF is aware of all the incoming tickets and can easily collaborate with every stakeholder across the Desk platform.

Creating a home for information and assignments

There is a correlation between the efforts put into both rebuilding communities and rebuilding the technologies that facilitates the groundwork and logistics management. Critical information gets more visibility because it now has a place to stay. A unified customer portal to look into the tickets and evaluate the stages of work helps the main operator streamline customer processes and add a personal touch to every email before internally assigning tickets to the respective person-in-charge. The granular filtering options also allow the supervisor to pick tickets that need specialised attention and assign them to agents with the matching skill sets.

Communication with partners redefined

At MAF, the partnerships with external agencies like government bodies, healthcare providers, or churches play a huge role in ensuring that ground surveillance and support work within rural communities is successful. Most of these partnerships were not formed from MAF's tendering and reaching out to them, but otherwise. To manage high chat volume from incoming tickets, especially when each provider has a unique service, the presence of Zoho Desk helps with switching conversations and capturing the context of each. This greatly resolves the trouble of having to dig through chat history.

  • Industry typeAirlines/Aviation
  • Employees201-500 employees
  • Type of businessNon-profit

Future with Zoho

On top of managing the COVID-19 situation in the region, there are also other prevailing medical conditions that require immediate attention during this period. With flight activities also trimmed by 25 – 35%, MAF PNG is currently exploring more avenues of connecting directly with the locals through social media. An integration between Zoho Desk and social media channels can deepen their visibility on what is happening onsite. With the recent advancement into Zoho Bigin, the integration between Zoho Bigin and Zoho Desk has allowed teams at MAF PNG such as the Operations Center Agents and Strategic Partnerships Division to stay abreast of the work each departments are in charge of.

The organisation is also considering creating a centralised base with a consolidated system using Zoho Desk so tickets can be distributed to each regional base automatically. In addition, MAF is looking into areas of Zoho Desk where they can run workflow and ticket assignments, and even incorporate a response ratings function on how each agent fares in their support based on average open time of a ticket and other indicators.

As MAF continues to expand on its effort to improve the quality of aid provided to local communities, the organisation continues to emulate its core values of impact, witness, excellence, partnership, stewardship and care by improving its communication infrastructure so that they always stay prepared to serve.

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