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AssistMyTeam Helpdesk add-ins are engineered and designed from the ground-up using the latest Microsoft technologies and keeping into consideration, the usability aspect of Outlook that many of us are already familiar with. Attention to detail is a central philosophy, and is tightly engraved on every bit of Helpdesk add-in processes and user-interfaces.

The following topics discuss some of the important aspects of Helpdesk add-in, and how these aid helpdesk technicians and managers in performing their tasks productively and efficiently to support ever-growing issues/queries from end-users:

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 Outlook, why not let them support tickets or calls 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 application with external database, just to log in tickets?

Our Helpdesk add-in extends your Outlook as an ideal platform to collect, track and resolve trouble tickets while sharing this information with your entire team, all with ease. By adding help desk functionalities and automation in Outlook, our Helpdesk add-in enables technicians and 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, and hence, no specialized skills or software or training are required.

Support Cases can be generated from diverse source such as incoming emails, appointments, tasks, phone calls, web forms etc. and are available instantly to all your team members.

Support cases generation can be automated by allowing the Helpdesk add-in to monitor any number of mail-enabled public folders or shared mailboxes. This is particular useful when you have a dedicated support mailbox account (for example support@yourcompany.com).

Additionally, caller information can be automatically scanned and saved to the caller list for CRM purpose.  

When a service request email is received, it needs to be converted into a trouble ticket or service work order. In 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 a technician has to manually create and log in new support case from email and this can be a major drawback if there is considerable emails traffic. It can increase response time affecting the overall performance of the help desk.

Our helpdesk add-in can be configured to intercept incoming emails from any number of shared mailboxes and mail-enabled public folders and automatically generate support cases out of the emails. Processed emails then can be moved to another folder or can be moved altogether to the Helpdesk email history folder. Contact information is automatically populated and the summary and description fields are filled in. If a default problem category or type, technician and service level (SLA) are associated with this monitored folder or mailbox, Helpdesk add-in would automatically assigned the values for these fields to the newly generated case.

The support request form in Outlook is especially designed to log in new case and view existing ones in the Outlook folder. Information catering to the case, caller, technician, problems etc. are laid out in a very intuitive way.

There are various sections in the form such as time spent, email history, notes, assets, custom fields and related cases that technicians can easily navigate and work upon. Contact fields are accompanied by relevant buttons for making quick correspondence to the contact such as email, phone calls or simply sending SMS. Fields such as problem category, type, status and department are available in drop down format (configurable by the helpdesk manager) so as to limit the choice the technician can select for such fields.

Managers can assign multiple technicians to a particular case if the scope of the problem extends beyond the capability of a technician. When setting due date of the case, the assigner can choose to lookup for an appropriate schedule in the technician’s calendar (can be personal or a public calendar). Automatic notification messages (either via email or SMS) are sent out immediately to the concerned technicians once the case is assigned or a due date is specified or changed. Optionally, a due date appointment or task can also be added to the personal mailbox of the technicians.

From directly in the case form, a technician can quickly browse, preview and select a knowledge base article or predefined reply and insert a relevant solution directly to the case problem description or make a quick reply to the caller. When logging in a new phone case, an existing caller, either from the caller list or from global address list (GAL) can be selected and it will automatically populate all other available caller fields such as address, phone number, company etc.

Most support cases cannot be closed within a single e-mail and response. Feedback from the caller and suggestions from the respective technicians 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 support case 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, Helpdesk add-in captures the complete course of the conversation chronologically, from all email communications received or sent (including those automated notifications sent to caller and technicians in due course). The end result is a consolidated view where all the responses to a support request are collated together. Redundant and repeated conversations are filtered out to present only the relevant communications.

This eases the task of the helpdesk 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 and resolution applied to the particular support request, something which is hard to extract from viewing multiple email responses.

Why worry and take the extra manual steps to assign new generated cases with an appropriate technician? Deciding and choosing a technician to attend to a support request can be a bit of work for helpdesk managers. This not only increases response time, but also delayed resolution to the problem. Would not it be nice if the helpdesk system can automatically route support request 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 service request case. For example, help desk manager can assign a default technician to each caller in the Helpdesk callers list, thereby allowing for automatic assignment of that particular technician when such new service request comes from the specific caller.

Default technician associated and linked to a company

Default technician associated and linked to a problem type

Another way of dynamic assignment is by associating a particular mail-enabled public folder or mailbox with a technician, such that, support cases generated out of incoming support request emails from that particular folder or mailbox, would automatically have the associated technician assigned. As a consequence, the Helpdesk add-in will send out notification emails and SMS, to the assigned technician automatically.

Default technician associated and linked to a mailbox

Manager can also associate a default technician to each problem type in the Helpdesk problems list, so that when end-user submits a new support request via web form, the Helpdesk add-in will automatically assign the associated technician of the selected problem type. Hence, with certain association of problems and callers prior in the Helpdesk lists, help desk 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.

So you have a repository of support request cases logged into an exchange folder. As the number of logged cases multiplies, finding the right information at the time of need is crucial for helpdesk team.

Search the support cases in the ongoing and resolved folders for cases 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 predefined to help you find your cases easily and quickly. You can also limit the search to your assigned cases only by choosing ‘My Cases‘ scope. You can directly reply to existing case, or send a KB, or re-open, close (mark complete) or print or export cases to files.

Time Period: Choose a time period from the followings under which the search will be confined:
Supported filters – Any, Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow, This week, Last Week, Next Week, This Month, Last Month, Next Month, This Year, Last Year, Date Range…, On

Report Type
: Choose a report type from the predefined ones below:
Supported Filters:
Cases Created
Cases Resolved
Cases Ongoing
Cases Worked
Cases Due
Cases Response Date
Cases unassigned
Cases lapsed – Due Time
Cases lapsed – Response Time
Cases with SLA Breach – Due Date
Cases with SLA Breach – Response Date
Cases with no Due Date
Cases with no Response Date
Cases with no Service Level
Cases with no Caller

Search By: Further refine the search by filtering through keywords or using one of the following helpdesk fields – Technicians, Status, Problem, Service level, Caller, Department, Company, Priority, Origin, Assets or Author.

Group By: You can choose to group the cases either with: Technicians, Status, Problem Category, Problem Type, Service level, Caller, Department, Company, Priority, Origin, Assets or Author.

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

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

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.

Hence, due to the various advantages, it is no wonder that our Helpdesk add-in supports SMS messaging just as it supports emails! SMS alerts can be automatically dispatched to callers or technicians based on certain help desk events such as when case is resolved or when a case 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.

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

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

Our Helpdesk add-in offers a whole lot of notification options for different helpdesk events such as when a case is created, changed or resolved, or when a technician is assigned to the case, 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 Cases folder. In fact, as long as Microsoft Outlook is running, the Helpdesk add-in is active i.e., it is processing requests and automating various helpdesk tasks such as sending out notification emails and SMS alerts.

The Internet is about empowerment, ease-of-use, reach and affordability. It is about making communications and operations easier and more open. It is why Team Helpdesk for Outlook provides a web access interface for technicians to work on support cases. The benefits for such as web based front are many.

For remote technicians who cannot access and work on support cases in the public folder or shared mailbox, Team Helpdesk provides them with an easy web interface accessible through a web browser on the internet.

The Helpdesk web access 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.

Each technician can choose to access only their cases, or load other cases 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 case, work on existing case and close, re-open or delete case directly from within the web access form.

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 Helpdesk add-in includes an inbuilt Knowledge Base folder that allows your helpdesk team to document best practices and solutions to common problems. Any support case is eligible to become flagged as an KB item and thus, a technician recognizing a repetitive support issue can easily flag a resolved case as a knowledge article.

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 so that end-users and customers experiencing technical challenges can self-service the answer to their problem by accessing 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.

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, and by doing so are improving customer satisfaction, strengthening their value propositions, and gaining deeper insights into customers needs.

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 support case status querying form and a self-service knowledge base.

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 support cases. They can also submit new requests, withdraw, escalate ongoing support cases, or re-open closed cases. Allowing callers to have access to their helpdesk cases through the comfort of a web browser, not only provide self-served information exchange in matter of seconds, but also relieves the helpdesk staffs from diverting their valuable time in replying to non-critical calls and emails back and forth with the callers. These instead help the helpdesk to concentrate on its critical goals and missions.

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.

Our Helpdesk add-in provides a means for the technician (in Outlook and web) or the customer (via web form) to create a hard-link between a troubled asset and a case.

The asset management module within the Helpdesk add-in 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 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; providing invaluable information directly from trouble case to the technicians resolving the support request.

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

With the integrated Online Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) tool, helpdesk managers can analyze the support request data 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.

With summary reports, managers can generate summarized reports on support cases based on different time interval – today, yesterday, this week, this month, last month, this year, last year or own date range. Summary reports provide an overview about when cases are logged, due, worked and closed over a period of time.

The inbuilt statistical tool in Team Helpdesk system allows displaying support cases data from your exchange folders to multidimensional data structures in grids, charts and graphs and support most common operations such as pivoting, drill down/slice and dice, filtering etc. This gives managers a unique opportunity to analyze their helpdesk data – slice and dice performance data to seek opportunity, drill down into trouble spots  to reinforce and strengthen policies.

It also provides various inbuilt reports specific to Helpdesk cases. managers can also easily create and save their user-defined reports for future references. Any report, chart, grid or graph can be saved to PDF, images, web pages or printed.

Therefore, in addition to providing a mechanism to resolve customer issues, our Helpdesk add-in gives senior IT managers with statistical information and understanding that aid in the decision-making process concerning the whole of help desk, and the organization as a whole. With such arrays of information, the organization can re-engineer their help desk processes, reinforce resources and forecast problem areas and exploit all these factors for competitive advantage.

The Outlook views are the primary interface with which most technicians will scan through for relevant cases when they work on the Helpdesk folders. Views are powerful way to organize  support cases through grouping, sorting and filtering. Hence, it is no wonder that our Helpdesk add-ins extends the power and flexibility of Outlook views to help desk 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 cases view. For example when, the problem category-problem type view is very useful when we want group cases on line of problems in hierarchical tree, so that it is easy to have a summarized information as which problem type has the maximum and minimum cases. Similarly, a manager can have a generalized information on the case life span (e.g, the day it was created to the day it was resolved) in a timeline view by choosing one of the calendar view. By default, our helpdesk add-in provides more than 30 views, catering to all help desk requirement scenarios and scopes.

Support cases grouped by problem category and further sub-grouped by problem type

Support cases grouped by technicians

The Helpdesk 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 Helpdesk views are organized in a way that they bring out some sense out of the cases – patterns, associations, occurrences or dependencies. But sometime, a technician would want to refine the view by means of keyword search on any fields. With the simple and advanced search options available with Helpdesk add-in right in Outlook, you are never handicap from the finding the right information in right time.