Incident Management in Outlook
Introducing Helpdesk add-in for Outlook
- Convert emails to cases, assign to technicians in Outlook
- Chronologically arrange email communications on a case in a single thread
- Automatically process incoming support requests to cases
- Automatically notify alerts on helpdesk events
- Import callers/technicians from local address book or GAL
- Centralized helpdesk administration
- Schedule appointment, assign task in technician’s mailbox
- Assign and enforce Service Level Agreement on support cases
- Deploy any number of custom fields
- Asset Tracking and Management
- Integrated statistics – Reporting, Charting, and Data Analysis
- Technician Web Access (TWA) – site through which remote technicians can work on support cases with a browser
- Customer Web Service (CWS) – site through which end-users can submit, escalate, withdraw, reopen or check status on their support cases online. Include a self-service web knowledge base
- Integrated knowledge base in Outlook and on the web
- Seamless Integration with Microsoft Outlook (2010, 2013, 2016, 2019)
- Can be use with a public folder or a shared mailbox
- Additionally store cases in a SharePoint list
If you and your helpdesk staffs rely on emails via Outlook as your primary support mechanism, chances of some requests getting lost in the cluttered Inbox are high. Fact is, without the proper organization and tracking capabilities in Outlook, one finds almost impossible to know when a problem has been resolved, who is currently working the issue or when the caller replied etc.
Moreover, Outlook itself is highly optimized for personal email exchange, due to which it often falls short when it comes to providing a complete history of an event over time. For example, when an email has been forwarded on to another helpdesk technician, the original technician loses insight into the progress. This has a serious implication, i.e., in its original state, Outlook simply lacks the automation, reporting, reminders, and workflow to manage a support ticket request, which is critical for helpdesks looking to optimize and uniformly improve support staff and customer interactions.
Helpdesk add-in overcomes these limitations by extending your Outlook as an ideal platform to collect, track and resolve trouble tickets while sharing this information with your entire team, all with ease in Outlook. It brings all of help desk functionalities and automation and seamlessly integrates with the easy workflow of Outlook, thereby allowing users to work in the same way they do with emails. Apart from emails, it can also integrate with fixed phones, Skype or SMS and supports relaying helpdesk response over these communication channels too.
More importantly, it can automatically process incoming support request emails to support cases, assign relevant technicians, enforce service level, set due date and send automated notifications, thereby cutting the overhead of manual tasks significantly while making it easier for team to work flexibly. The inbuilt knowledge base besides acting as an effective knowledge sharing medium, helps in improving the average ‘First Call Resolution’ timing significantly, as technicians find resolution to problems quickly. With the asset management and tracking module, technicians can easily view every problem and incident ever reported on a specific asset.
- Work on support cases in your Outlook as if you would work on emails
- Single enterprise-wide view of support cases, callers and problems
- Little or no training requirement on the part of your support technicians
- Centralized data storage on Microsoft Exchange – enable collaboration
- Common point-of-call for your end-users
- Automate support request logging and notifications – no manual tasks
- Always in communication loop via automated email/messaging
- A self-service knowledge base that act as first level support
- Higher productivity and increased “up-time” for support staffs
- Organized state of cases means faster tracking requests
- Identify problem areas and increase helpdesk efficiency
- “Do more with less” – affordable one-time fee with enterprise license
how it works
Helpdesk add-in makes working on support requests very easy by seamlessly integrating the process of submitting, assigning, tracking and fulfilling support requests all inside Microsoft Outlook.
After the managerial tool is installed, helpdesk administrator will be given a choice of database options where all the settings, templates and other helpdesk data will be stored centrally. Database options include Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SharePoint, SQL Server, Microsoft Azure (cloud SQL server).
Helpdesk administrator defines drop-down lists such as technicians, callers, problems, assets, as well as emails and SMS templates, predefined replies, messaging options, web access etc. With these global settings, manager can streamline the behavior on how all technicians work on support cases in Outlook.
Administrator can also set the manager add-in to monitor any number of mailboxes and email folders, for automatic processing of incoming emails to support cases. This process cuts the overhead of manually generating support cases from emails, thus diverting valuable human resources to resolving the case.
The Agent tool consists of an Outlook add-in that has all the logic and functionalities of the helpdesk application. Each technician of the helpdesk who would work on support cases needs to install the Team Helpdesk Agent tool.
After a successful install, you will see that additional menus, toolbars or ribbons are added in the explorer and inspector windows of Microsoft Outlook.
(Note: Apart from the managerial tool, helpdesk administrators also need to install the client tool if they have to work on support cases themselves).
An end-user experiencing technical challenges can self-service the answer to their problem by accessing the web-based knowledge base (through the Team Helpdesk Customer Web Service site).
If a solution is not found, the end-user requests for support by sending an email, by making a phone call or simply, by filling a web form. These support requests are then logged and converted to cases in Outlook.
Further details and drop-down lists (such as the classification of problems the request falls into) can then be set, by a supervisor or manager.
Typically, a manager or senior technician assigns the best technicians to the case for fulfillment of the service and speedy resolution. Furthermore, in the helpdesk settings, administrator can link and associate individual technician to a caller, or to a problem type such that when a new support request email is received, if there is a match between technician and the caller (read as sender), or if a problem type is found in the email subject, the associated technician will get assigned automatically to the case.
Assigned technicians then get notified through an automated email or SMS. Optionally, the due date of the case is entered into the personal calendar of the technicians’ mailbox.
The assigned technician then proceeds to fulfill and resolve the case, either in Outlook or via Technician Web Access (TWA). Helpdesk manager may enforce a Service Level Agreement (SLA), set due date and other deliverables on the particular case for the assigned technicians, for quality check purposes. Further correspondence to the caller might follow (in the form of emails, SMS, phone calls). All activities related to the case are logged and technician can fill time spent and assign additional technician if needed. Relevant asset information and fixes related to the case can be accessed and tracked right from the case form itself.
The caller then can escalate, withdraw, reopen or simply track the history of their support cases online with Caller Web Access (CWA).
Alternatively, caller can reply back to email from the helpdesk and the response automatically triggers an escalation on that particular support case. If a response from the caller on an existing case is received, the concerned technicians are notified automatically. If the case has been resolved, Team Helpdesk automatically re-opens and marks it as an ongoing case.
Certain pre-defined Outlook views can be used to track the progress of cases. Once every parameter of the caller’s request has been fulfilled, a case be is closed. The closed case is then moved to the Resolved Cases folder. At the same time, the caller gets notified automatically on the closure of the case.
A closed case can be a good source of future reference and technician can create a new knowledge base entry based on the case. It is then available in the list of articles under the integrated knowledge base, categorized and sorted, ready for your technicians to draw from when similar issues arise. Helpdesk administrator can publish these articles on to the Customer Web Service site for providing first level support to potential support requests from end-users.
To identify problem areas and increase helpdesk efficiency, senior management runs the statistical tool from time to time, collecting valuable intelligence and trends and generating meaningful reports.
For day to day knowledge of the helpdesk, they can generate summary reports to get appraisal on the current happenings on the helpdesk and track recent cases generated, worked, closed or reopened.
Over time, the Team Helpdesk folders (in Exchange) will be accumulated with support cases mostly resolved ones. Helpdesk managers can either archive the old case items to a PST file or can export the case data to an external database such as Oracle, SQL or Access. Archiving periodically keeps the exchange folder from getting too big and unwieldy, which could cause Exchange/Microsoft Outlook performance to slow down.