Lonely Planet’s Service Desk Transformation – Where did it all begin?

Recently I’ve presented at a few conferences and seminars about how Lonely Planet transformed their Service Desk from a Toyota to a BMW, on a shoestring budget. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing just how we did it right here on jayhyett@wordpress.com.

So where did it all begin?

To answer that lets go all the way back to 1973 when a couple of backpackers by the name of Tony and Maureen Wheeler traveled to Australia after completing an adventure across Europe and Asia. When they arrived they had just 27 cents left between. After being asked many questions about their journey, they decided to write a travel guide. Their first book Across Asia on the Cheap was written at their kitchen table.

Fast forward 34 years to 2007, Tony and Maureen had built the world’s largest travel content provider in Lonely Planet. In order to take the business forward into a new digital age the Wheelers decided it was time to sell their business to BBC Worldwide for £130,000,000 – not a bad return on investment from 27 cents!

Lonely Planet’s culture is quite unique. The company is full of talented people that work in an open, relaxed and casual environment. Work/Life balance is genuinely promoted and staff have the ability to work flexible hours – starting as late as 9:30am and finishing as early as 4:00pm.

The Service Desk’s culture reflected this. It wasn’t unusual for members of the team to turn up at work as late as 9:30, head upstairs to the onsite café to have a coffee and some breakfast before starting their day at 10:00am. Whilst this was acceptable at Lonely Planet it often meant that if a customer started their day at 8:00am they’d had to wait up to 2 hours for someone to acknowledge they’d received their call for help.

With the ink still drying on the sale of Lonely Planet we knew the time was right to make changes to the services the IT department provided to the business. We wanted to be a high performing, customer focused team that provided world class IT services for our customers. What better place to start that transformation than with the team that works closest to the customer – the Service Desk. Unfortunately however we didn’t have much money to spend so we had to focus on the quick wins that would have a big impact.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share those wins with you in detail and in doing so give you an insight into how we transformed our Service Desk from a Toyota to a BMW.

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