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IP.Nexus Dev Update - Handling Support Requests

Posted by Mark , 18 June 2010 · 1,242 views

In our previous blog entry, we showed the front end for submitting support requests.
In this entry, we'll show how staff members deal with support requests from the Admin CP.



This is what the support listing in the Admin CP looks like:
Attached Image
Staff members can select which departments and statuses to show using the filters at the bottom. Of course, only the departments they are allowed to access are shown.
Support requests are sorted by the date of the last reply, ignoring any replies made by the same member (so if a member replies to their support request with more information, they remain in the same position in the queue).

If there are any requests you are tracking or are assigned to you, buttons will appear at the top to allow you to view these requests, regardless of your current filter settings.
Support requests you are tracking or are assigned to you are marked in the list with an icon.

You can set the status on multiple requests at a time by selecting the checkbox for each one and using the dropdown menu at the bottom. For example, if you see duplicate tickets or spam.


This is what the request screen looks like:
Attached Image

The box at the top indicates the properties of the request. When you mouse over any of these, they will change to a dropdown menu allowing you to change them. After selecting an option, it will immediately be saved.
The box below this indicates the package associated to the request. If the request is in a department which requires an associated package and there isn't one, or it isn't the correct type, an warning will be shown:
Attached Image
Attached Image
When you change any of the attributes, such as department, the status of this will be updated via AJAX.
If the associated package has custom fields or subpackages, clicking on the package name will reveal this information:
Attached Image
You can change the associated package by clicking the link which will show a list of all the user's packages - the currently associated package will be highlighted:
Attached Image

You can reply to a request using the box at the bottom. At the same time as replying, you can edit any of the attributes.
You can also select a stock action, which will automatically fill in the reply and select the appropriate attribute values for you. You can then customise these or send the reply.

You can add a hidden note to a request by pressing the button at the top, which will display a popup for you to type your note:
Attached Image
The note will be displayed inline in the request:
Attached Image
Notes only show to staff members in the Admin CP - the customer will not see them.

You can control who is notified of replies to the support request using the "Notifications" tab at the bottom.
This is handy if the customer requests another person to be CCd on replies.
Attached Image




Looks well thought out :)
    • yotamb likes this
Will there be a similar section on the public side for staff members who do not have ACP access?

Will there be a similar section on the public side for staff members who do not have ACP access?


No. You can use ACP Restrictions to only allow access support requests if you so desire.

The reason for this being other things, such as customer information, is also in the ACP. We did experiment with having front-end management desk but it was very annoying since in order to do anything you had to go into the ACP anyway.
Food for thought:

- Allow us to save different filter states (which then any staff member can easily select with a click)
- Add an option so when a incoming email has a CC that CC is automatically added to the ticket notifications as well
- If there is a CC on the email display it somewhere on the reply

"Support requests are sorted by the date of the last reply, ignoring any replies made by the same member (so if a member replies to their support request with more information, they remain in the same position in the queue)."

I assume this can be changed? If not, definitely a must have option! Often we get an email that says "I'll send you x in a bit" and then the "a bit" turns into 2 days and by then if the ticket doesn't bounce back up when a new reply is made it will be hard to figure out there was activity in it since then.

---

Also I don't see priorities anywhere, I assume this isn't in yet? This is a really important feature for any busy help desk as urgent requests must be at the top of the queue, always. If not different priority levels perhaps at least a "this is urgent" checkbox on the ticket that a client can check and which will bump the ticket to the top?
Looking good as per usual, now just copy over the IP.Nexus Ticket Weighting pl0x :P
    • yotamb likes this

Food for thought:

- Allow us to save different filter states (which then any staff member can easily select with a click)
- Add an option so when a incoming email has a CC that CC is automatically added to the ticket notifications as well
- If there is a CC on the email display it somewhere on the reply

"Support requests are sorted by the date of the last reply, ignoring any replies made by the same member (so if a member replies to their support request with more information, they remain in the same position in the queue)."

I assume this can be changed? If not, definitely a must have option! Often we get an email that says "I'll send you x in a bit" and then the "a bit" turns into 2 days and by then if the ticket doesn't bounce back up when a new reply is made it will be hard to figure out there was activity in it since then.

---

Also I don't see priorities anywhere, I assume this isn't in yet? This is a really important feature for any busy help desk as urgent requests must be at the top of the queue, always. If not different priority levels perhaps at least a "this is urgent" checkbox on the ticket that a client can check and which will bump the ticket to the top?


All good ideas, will see about adding for 1.1.



Looking good as per usual, now just copy over the IP.Nexus Ticket Weighting pl0x :P


Trust me, in practice, it's not that great ;)
The only thing that I dislike about IPB, is that most of the settings that I'd like to be in a so called ModCP all need to be accessed through AdminCP such as this...
    • Blind Bandit likes this

The only thing that I dislike about IPB, is that most of the settings that I'd like to be in a so called ModCP all need to be accessed through AdminCP such as this...


You can build your own ModCP using ACP Restrictions, and control exactly what you want them to have access to.
    • Nick² and Mark like this
Photo
Blind Bandit
Jun 18 2010 07:04 AM

The only thing that I dislike about IPB, is that most of the settings that I'd like to be in a so called ModCP all need to be accessed through AdminCP such as this...


I agree. I know most don't want to give ACP access out to a lot of people. Even if restricted it doesn't make sense when a mod cp would work a lot better. No need to give ACP access to everyone to get anything done. That and really isn't their already enough going on in the ACP?
    • Nick² likes this

The only thing that I dislike about IPB, is that most of the settings that I'd like to be in a so called ModCP all need to be accessed through AdminCP such as this...

This is IP.Nexus, which is an add-on for IPB, not IPB itself.
You want your customer information (support info, addresses, billing info, etc.) secured behind the AdminCP. Trust me.
    • Nick², Mark, ørret and 1 other like this
Good job. I love everything about this application.

You want your customer information (support info, addresses, billing info, etc.) secured behind the AdminCP. Trust me.

True. Well, its just something I dislike. It doesn't stop me from using IPB and any other great services yall offer. It isn't like there is better software like IPB out there anyways... :]
I've got a couple of suggestions based on my experience with Kayako.

1. Last Reply

The last reply info you have there is essentially useless. In a busy support desk, noone cares when the last reply was, they care who it came from. Ideally you'd have "x replies, last replied to by xxxx". You could also use a mouseover to indicate when the last reply was (Kayako uses a whole seperate column called "Last Activity")

2. SLAs

I assume Nexus will support SLAs. If so, there should be a column indicating how long until the ticket automatically escalates. If Nexus doesn't support SLAs and escalation, it needs to. This will be a dealbreaker for the larger support desks.

3. Additional Recipient Types

You currently support having a user who is CCed all replies. This is a good start, but ideally there should also be a recipient type for a third party who should be able to contribute replies to the ticket as well (for example, a technician from the user's hosting company who can add a ticket reply when asked configuration questions). Kayako also supports BCC, but I'm not entirely convinced of the value of that.

4. On-click AJAX Update of Ticket Details

This one's hard to explain, so I'll use pictures. In Kayako, if I click on a ticket field in the ticket view screen, all of the fields that are modifiable change to editable fields, and a submit and cancel button appear. This allows me to change the details of the ticket. Here's before clicking:

Posted Image

and after clicking:

Posted Image

I also still insist that there should be a desktop application to allow ticket management as it is much more efficient for staff users. It also opens the door for live support options to be eventually integrated.
    • Nick² and Kfir like this
IP.Nexus is cool but the skin does not match the business theme.

IP.Nexus need a new skin so its look like commercial site.

I've got a couple of suggestions based on my experience with Kayako.

1. Last Reply

The last reply info you have there is essentially useless. In a busy support desk, noone cares when the last reply was, they care who it came from. Ideally you'd have "x replies, last replied to by xxxx". You could also use a mouseover to indicate when the last reply was (Kayako uses a whole seperate column called "Last Activity")

2. SLAs

I assume Nexus will support SLAs. If so, there should be a column indicating how long until the ticket automatically escalates. If Nexus doesn't support SLAs and escalation, it needs to. This will be a dealbreaker for the larger support desks.

3. Additional Recipient Types

You currently support having a user who is CCed all replies. This is a good start, but ideally there should also be a recipient type for a third party who should be able to contribute replies to the ticket as well (for example, a technician from the user's hosting company who can add a ticket reply when asked configuration questions). Kayako also supports BCC, but I'm not entirely convinced of the value of that.

4. On-click AJAX Update of Ticket Details

This one's hard to explain, so I'll use pictures. In Kayako, if I click on a ticket field in the ticket view screen, all of the fields that are modifiable change to editable fields, and a submit and cancel button appear. This allows me to change the details of the ticket. Here's before clicking:

Posted Image

and after clicking:

Posted Image

I also still insist that there should be a desktop application to allow ticket management as it is much more efficient for staff users. It also opens the door for live support options to be eventually integrated.


All great ideas.

For point 4 though - this is basically what Nexus does but there is no "Save" button. It saves as soon as you change a field. From my experience with our support desk, I feel things like changing the status shouldn't take more than a couple of clicks.

I'm also not sure I agree with the point about the desktop application. More and more applications are being moved to web applications - this is probably a conversation for another day but given that creating a desktop application would be such an undertaking, I'm not sure if it really adds any value in todays technology world.
A live chat solution could easily be a web application.

IP.Nexus is cool but the skin does not match the business theme.

IP.Nexus need a new skin so its look like commercial site.


I would assume any company running their entire business from Nexus would customise the look to match their branding. It of course uses IP.Board's template system so this is easy to do.

I'm also not sure I agree with the point about the desktop application. More and more applications are being moved to web applications - this is probably a conversation for another day but given that creating a desktop application would be such an undertaking, I'm not sure if it really adds any value in todays technology world. A live chat solution could easily be a web application.


While I don't need support tickets in a desktop app (although that would be great, even if it was just a little notification when a ticket is created or updated), a live chat desktop app is almost a must. Unless I'm on the forums at that moment, how am I going to know if there's a live chat request? Sure, it can play a sound or something right in the page, but that's far from a good notification. Looking at both LiveHelp Messenger by Stardevelop and LiveZilla - two of the leading standalone self-hosted live chat solutions, they both have a desktop application with some very nice features. I'm sure this will be better covered in a later blog post though, so I'll wait up until then and reiterate my thoughts.

While I don't need support tickets in a desktop app (although that would be great, even if it was just a little notification when a ticket is created or updated), a live chat desktop app is almost a must. Unless I'm on the forums at that moment, how am I going to know if there's a live chat request? Sure, it can play a sound or something right in the page, but that's far from a good notification. Looking at both LiveHelp Messenger by Stardevelop and LiveZilla - two of the leading standalone self-hosted live chat solutions, they both have a desktop application with some very nice features. I'm sure this will be better covered in a later blog post though, so I'll wait up until then and reiterate my thoughts.

I think from a business perspective, there would be people scheduled during certain hours to answer the chat requests, instead of it being 'unmanned' until someone needed to chat.

Don't get me wrong though. I would be wonderful to have a small program/notification to pop up so you know that there's a new issue/chat request. Perhaps doing nothing more than alerting you of that and clicking on it would take you to the first/oldest notification. That way if there are two or more people at the same time, you obviously go to the first instead of the newest.

I think from a business perspective, there would be people scheduled during certain hours to answer the chat requests, instead of it being 'unmanned' until someone needed to chat.

Don't get me wrong though. I would be wonderful to have a small program/notification to pop up so you know that there's a new issue/chat request. Perhaps doing nothing more than alerting you of that and clicking on it would take you to the first/oldest notification. That way if there are two or more people at the same time, you obviously go to the first instead of the newest.


Correct, but there are also small businesses that don't have a constant flow of support tickets or chat requests. For example, the developers of a small program may be the only people who answer support tickets and chat requests since the company only receives an average of 5 support tickets and 2 chat requests per day. This is where that sort of desktop app would be very useful.

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