Explore Email Ticketing System in Outlook

AssistMyTeam Helpdesk add-in is engineered as an email ticketing system, designed around the email capabilities of Outlook. The following topics discuss some of the important features.

Email ticketing system for Microsoft Outlook

Your team members all use Outlook extensively – all day, every day for email communications, appointments, contacts, tasks etc. When they have relied that heavily on the Outlook system, why not let them support tickets in Outlook, without ever leaving Outlook? When you have your address books, mailboxes and public folders stored on a central Exchange server, why would one want to use another unfamiliar, expensive apps with external database, just to log in tickets?

The AssistMyTeam Email Tracking System exists as a Helpdesk add-in in Outlook in personal and team edition. It extends your Outlook as an ideal system to collect, track and resolve trouble tickets from emails while sharing this information with your entire team, all with ease. By adding ticketing functionalities and automation in Outlook, the Helpdesk system enables support agents to work with support request in the same way they do with emails.

Moreover, Helpdesk add-in leverages your existing Microsoft resources such as MS Exchange server, Internet Information Server (IIS), Active Directory etc. Hence, no specialized skills or software or training are required.

Email ticketing system inside your Outlook

Raise tickets from emails, phone calls, webforms 

You can raise tickets from emails, appointments, tasks, phone calls, web forms etc. and are available instantly to all your team members. Additionally, the ticketing system automatically extracts sender information from email and saves it to the caller list in the database for CRM purpose.

Automating email ticketing in Outlook

When a service request is received, it needs to be converted into a trouble ticket. But in a typical service desk environment where the email is the main medium of correspondence, there is a feel of a ‘disconnect’ between the technicians and the ticket tracking system. The reason is that some one has to manually create and log in new ticket from the email. This can be a major overhead for the helpdesk when it is dealing with considerable emails traffic. As a consequence, response time to issues may increase, affecting the overall performance of the helpdesk.

To overcome such situation, the helpdesk add-in can intercept incoming emails to automatically generate tickets. It also populates contact information, issue description of the ticket. Default problem category, technician or service level (SLA) are also automatically assigned to the ticket.

Understanding the ticket form in Outlook

The ticket form in Outlook displays information related to the issue, caller, technician, and problems in an intuitive way. Information is categorized into different sections such as time spent, email history, notes, assets, custom fields and related cases that technicians can easily navigate and access upon. Relevant buttons are available in the contact fields for making quick correspondence such as email, phone calls or simply sending SMS.

Managers can assign multiple technicians to a particular ticket if the scope of the problem extends beyond the capability of a single technician. The add-in will automatically send out notification messages to the assigned technicians once the ticket is assigned or a due date is specified or changed. Optionally, it can also add a due date appointment or task to the personal mailbox of the technicians.

From within the ticket form, a technician can quickly browse, preview and select a knowledge base article or a canned response, before sending it to the caller. When logging in a new ticket from a phone call, you can choose an existing caller, either from the caller list or from global address list (GAL). And that populate the caller information in the ticket such as address, phone number, company etc.

The ticket form organized in sections

Consolidated conversation of a ticket

Most tickets cannot be closed within a single e-mail and response. Feedback from the caller and suggestions from stakeholders often occur over multiple request-response emails. Moreover, different members from the support teams may provide resolutions, during the course of the request. So, in practical scenario, a ticket might have various e-mail versions of the resolution steps, making it cumbersome to get a complete picture of responses and resolution.

With the conversation threading feature, the email ticketing system captures the complete course of the conversation chronologically, from all communications received or sent. This includes those automated notifications sent to caller and technicians in due course. The end result is a consolidated view, where all the responses to a ticket are collated together. It also filters out redundant and repeated conversations, to present only the relevant communications.

Consolidated Conversation of a case in Email ticketing system

This consolidated conversation feature eases the task of an email ticketing system and minimizes repeating what has already been done, while keeping support team members to stay on the track. Another advantage is, it allows the technician to quickly glimpse through the thread and get a complete overview on the responses in chronological order, something which is hard to extract from viewing multiple email responses.

Automatic assignment of agents to a ticket

Why worry and take the extra manual steps to assign new tickets with an appropriate technician? Deciding and choosing a technician to attend to a ticket can be a bit of work for managers. This not only increases response time, but also delays resolution to the problem. Would not it be nice if the email ticketing system can automatically assign ticket to the appropriate technician who has the relevant skill to resolved it?

Our Helpdesk add-in uses intelligent logic to determine which technical support operator is assigned to a new ticket. For example, manager can assign a default technician to each caller in the callers list. And this allows for automatic assignment of that particular technician when new service request comes from the specific caller.

Default technician associated and linked to a company
Companies list

Default technician associated and linked to a problem type
Problems list

Another way of dynamic assignment is by associating a particular mail-enabled public folder or mailbox with a technician. With this, tickets generated out of emails would automatically have the associated technician assigned. As a consequence, the ticketing system can send out notification emails and SMS, to the assigned technician automatically.

Default technician associated and linked to a mailbox
Automatic email monitoring in the ticketing system

Manager can also associate a default technician to each problem type in the Helpdesk problems list. And when end-user submits a new support request via web form, the add-in will automatically assign this associated technician of the chosen problem type. Hence, with certain association of problems and callers prior, managers can always get the right agent on the job.

This automation allows managers to get rid of manual assignment, and helps to improve the efficiency, and response time of your helpdesk team.

Keyword search to find the relevant tickets

You have a repository of tickets. As the number multiplies, finding the right information at the time of need is crucial for any email ticketing system.

You can search the tickets that meet a user specified criteria or keywords. Any occurrence of these keywords are searched in all fields, including the description field. A variety of search parameters are available to help you find your tickets easily and quickly. You can also limit the search to your assigned tickets only by choosing ‘My Cases‘ scope. You can directly reply to existing ticket, or send a KB, or re-open, close (mark complete) or print or export tickets to files.

Search tickets panel of Helpdesk add-in

Each ticket in the search result is color coded to reflect the current state of the ticket such as if it ongoing, completed, over due or has breached SLA. Now, you can easily recognize which tickets require the utmost attention, and plan actions and allocate resources accordingly.

Lastly, you are free to choose which particular fields/columns show up in the search result and report. Just click the ‘Fields’ button, and choose the columns to include.

Send SMS from the ticket

Short Message Service or popularly known by its acronym as SMS, is used by billions of people and is the most pervasive use of data on mobile phones. SMS is convenient and cost effective for a number of reasons. When compared with the cost of airtime for voice calls or wireless web access, SMS is a real bargain and messages are immediately delivered directly to your phone.

Our email ticketing system supports SMS messaging just as it supports emails. SMS alerts can be automatically dispatched to callers or technicians based on certain helpdesk events. For example, when ticket is resolved or when it is assigned to a technician.

There are two ways in Helpdesk add-in to support SMS messaging:

1) Using Skype (version 2.5 and above).
If technicians have Skype installed and has credit, the Helpdesk add-in can set to send SMS directly through Skype. This functionality is done programmatically, which means, Skype is seamlessly integrated with Helpdesk add-in. The technicians won’t even notice the Skype is being used during the whole process of SMS messaging.

Use Skype to send SMS to callers/technicians in Email Tracking System

2) Using an Email to SMS Gateway service.
If you have an Email-to-SMS gateway service, you can set the email ticketing system to route SMS alerts to the mobile device of callers/technicians.

Use SMS gateway to send SMS to callers/technicians in Email Tracking System

Automated Alerts

Automatic email notification and SMS alerts are essential for keeping callers and technicians abreast with the progress and status of a ticket.

Email ticketing system offers a whole lot of notification options for different helpdesk events. For instance, when a ticket is created, changed or resolved, or when a technician is assigned to the ticket, or when the due date has lapsed etc.

Automatic emails and SMS alerts are send out directly when a relevant event occurs. And the whole exercise is transparent to the technicians. Technicians are not even required to be working on the tickets folder. In fact, as long as Microsoft Outlook is running, the Helpdesk add-in is active. That is, it is processing requests and automated tasks, such as, sending out notification emails and SMS alerts.

Automatic notifications of Email ticketing system

Remote access to tickets

The Internet is about empowerment, ease-of-use, reach and affordability. It is about making communications and operations easier and more open. Our email ticketing system in Outlook provides an easy web access interface for technicians to work on support tickets. The benefits for such as web based front are many.

Technicians Web Access site

The web access site is an AJAX enabled ASP.NET 2.0 application and provides a rich set of tools and interactivity with the live data in the exchange folder. Technicians with valid web access rights will be prompted to enter user credential when logging in to the website.

Tickets available on the web access site

Each technician can choose to access only their tickets, or load other tickets based on a search criteria such as case ID, caller or other technician. Existing email replies from the caller can be read, replied or forwarded, all from the comfort of the web browser.

Most of the functionalities available to technicians via Outlook are also available on the web access. Create new ticket, work on existing ticket and close, re-open or delete ticket directly from within the web access form.

A ticket as seen in the web access site

Knowledge base from tickets

A knowledge base repository acts as an effective knowledge sharing medium, boosting support productivity by leveraging collective knowledge and providing invaluable KB Articles to support technicians in a snap! It also helps in improving the average ‘First Call Resolution’ timing significantly, as technicians find resolution to problems quickly.

Our email ticketing system includes an inbuilt Knowledge Base folder that allows your team to document best practices and solutions to common problems. So, when you recognize a repetitive support issue, easily convert that resolved ticket as a knowledge article. And it is then available for reference by your team members or even by your end-users.

Knowledge base articles in Email Ticketing System

It is very easy to use the knowledge base in Outlook. A Question and Answer format is used to intuitively display KB items. Each item may have any number of file attachments associated, rich-text elements, and hyperlinks to other web pages. All items are tagged with a related problem category and problem type, so it is easy to find a particular resolution at time of needs.

When deploying the Customer Web Service (CWS) website, the same internal knowledge base articles are published to the website. Consequently, customers experiencing technical issues can self-service the answer to their problem through the web-based knowledge base. Once on the Knowledge Base web interface, end-users may click through the tiered problem categories and types to find articles they are looking for. Self-Service articles may also be searched via keywords.

KB Articles from the customer web service site

Customer web site for submitting tickets

Customer service has taken center stage recently in response to highly competitive market conditions and an improved understanding of the true value of a customer. Successful organizations are using the Internet to gain competitive advantage by offering customers the ability to perform post-transaction activities online. By doing so, are improving customer satisfaction, strengthening their value propositions, and gaining deeper insights into customer’s needs.

Email Tracking system provides webforms for both customers and agents.

Customer Web Service site for Helpdesk add-in

The Customer Web Service (CWS) is a collection of ASP.NET server-side application files that cater to the helpdesk end users on the web. It consists of a structured support request submission web-form, a ticket status querying form and a self-service knowledge base.

Ticket form in Customer Web Service site

The CWS site also includes an exclusive Caller Web Access (CWA) feature with which existing callers can login, to track the progress and status of their tickets. They can also submit new requests, withdraw, escalate ongoing tickets, or re-open closed tickets. This provides self-served information exchange in matter of seconds. More importantly, this relieves the helpdesk from diverting valuable time in replying to non-critical emails back and forth. These instead help the helpdesk to concentrate on its critical goals and missions.

Ticket status web form

IT Asset Tracking 

Associating problems and incidences with actual hardware and software inventory is crucial to maintaining proper preventative incident management and finding the core problem to repetitive issue or problem that is plaguing a large group of end-users.

Email Tracking system provides a means for the technician or the customer to create a hard-link between a troubled asset and a ticket.

The asset management panel provides a centralized repository for all of your organization’s hardware and software inventory. An asset may be cataloged and categorized by Asset Types. All the asset fields except for the asset name can be re-titled to adapt and take any of your organization’s intrinsic properties of inventories such as association with Make, I.P. Address or Model information. This provides invaluable information directly from trouble ticket to the technicians resolving the issue.

Technicians can easily view every problem and incident ever reported, on a specific asset. In Outlook, the ticket form has a special tab for assets, that not only shows the asset details, but also relevant tickets that are associated with the same asset problem.

Asset tracking fields in the ticket form

Helpdesk reports

Managers can generate summarized reports on tickets based on different time interval. And these reports provide an overview about when tickets are logged, due, worked and closed over a period of time.

Reporting tool in Email Ticketing System

With the inbuilt OLAP tool, managers can analyze the tickets in multidimensional view (in grids, charts and graphs) and extract mission critical information and intelligence that will enable better decision- in your helpdesk and organization.

OLAP statistics tool in Email Tracking System add-in for Outlook

Use helpdesk specific Outlook views to make sense of tickets

Outlook views are powerful way to organize tickets through grouping, sorting and filtering. Email Ticketing System extends the power and flexibility of Outlook views to provide better intelligence and understanding on information when it is required the most!

Based on different needs and scopes, technicians can switch to any pre-defined ticket view. For example, one type of view groups ticket items by problem category, another type of view by ticket status and so on. Email ticketing system provides more than 30 pre-defined views.

Tickets grouped by problem category and further by problem type:
Outlook view grouped by Problem Categories

Tickets grouped by technicians:
Outlook View grouped by Technicians

These Outlook Views can be modified to suit the team’s taste and fields requirements. If you are an Outlook expert, you can even create new views and publish them, for all your team in the folder. All Outlook views are organized in a way that they bring out some sense out of the tickets – patterns, associations, occurrences or dependencies.

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