Fog Creek

Help Desk in FogBugz – Webinar


This video covers setting up a basic help desk in FogBugz. This includes mailing customers, creating snippets, searching and using AutoSort.


Let’s go over some of the topics we’re going to discuss today. We’re going to talk about how to set up a basic help desk in FogBugz. There are more advanced ways to do this. We’re not going to cover all those today given our short window. We’re going to email some clients and customers. Then we’re going to create and use some snippets in FogBugz. We’re going to do a little searching, especially using due dates. We’re going to end up in a basic sense leveraging FogBugz autosort.

Before we start using FogBugz I wanted to cover the key parts to any help desk, at least in my opinion. The most important thing that comes to mind for me is a help desk has to be a way for your customers and your clients to contact you via email. It’s also a great way for you and your colleagues to collaboratively respond to that customer or client, especially in a timely manner. The last thing that FogBugz has a bonus on is that it helps you close the feedback loop between your customers and your developers. FogBugz allows you to do all those things pretty quickly and pretty simply.

Let’s talk about what a help desk workflow looks like in FogBugz. We can see here on the diagram on the left we have your clients or customers. They’re going to send in an email to you here and it’s going to end up in FogBugz. FogBugz is then going to turn that email into a case which we see here on the far right. The case then gets assigned out to a support member. That support member can if you follow my mouse here can end up making notes on the case, any other updates, pass the case around to other team members, and most importantly respond directly to the customer from this case.

One of the things that I’d like to emphasize is that the case records the entire history of this customer’s problem, so if a problem needs to be escalated for example it’s really simple to do because the history is all in the case right there. Of course once you reply in the case the customer will get your response email.

Let’s get started here. I find it helpful to envision a scenario to match our use case here. Let’s say we have a fictional service that we’re calling Whysk. It’s a product created by Misty River Software. The product is a simple car sharing application for both mobile and web. We’re getting a lot of customers now and it’s starting to get really difficult for us to use Gmail just to work with our customers. We decided we needed something better and we chose FogBugz.

Obviously the first thing we need is a FogBugz On Demand account. I’ve already created one for us to use here on the presentation. That’s what you see here. That’s that window here. When you create an automated account the first user is the admin user of FogBugz. This is who we’re logged in as here. If you haven’t seen FogBugz before the first page you’re going to see is usually this page here, it’s going to be a list of cases of some kind matching some default search. You’ve heard me mention the word case several times here. A case is really the base unit of FogBugz. You can call this a ticket or an issue or whatever is appropriate in your organization.

Let’s talk about what the interface here can do for us. The cases button at the top will bring us to our current search. The drop down to the right will bring us to our saved filters. We can then use the search box here to do any ad-hoc searches. On the far right you’re going to have a gear icon if you’re an administrator. You can configure all your FogBugz-wide settings there and on the far right you’re going to have your avatar. That’s going to allow you to configure most of your personal settings. There’s several other things on the screen but we’re not going to cover those today.

Again, back to our scenario, Whysk just hired Julie to help deliver great customer service to our ever expanding customers. The first thing we’re going to do is add Julie as a user to FogBugz so that she can start getting acquainted with it and start helping our customers. We’re going to go to the gear icon and click users. I’m going to click add new. I’m going to type in Julie’s name and then her email address. The next thing we’re going to do is just choose the normal role and click add user. When you click add user she’s just going to get an email in her inbox outside of FogBugz that’s going to have a link in there and it’s going to allow her to set her password. I’m going to bypass that email step here just for the sake of time and I’m going to manually set her password.

Let’s go back to our cases in FogBugz by clicking the FogBugz tab. The next thing. So we have a user. That’s great. That’s going to help us with customer support. The next thing we need is a way for FogBugz to receive these customer inquiries that we’re getting. This could be again help desk or problem tickets, whatever types of customer inquiries we have or that you plan on handling. At FogCreek for example we receive both our help requests with our products, as well as our sales inquiries within FogBugz within the same email address.

We’re going to get started by adding the Whysk help at address. That’s where our Whysk customers can email us when they have a problem. To do that we’re going to go now to the gear icon and click mailboxes. You can see from this list here that I’ve already added this account for us for the sake of time. To add your own you would just click add new mail account here. As long as your email system has pop3 or IMAP access you can add the account. But I do want edit the mailbox for Whysk here.

There’s a lot of configuration options for this email. You can see that on this page. We can set up an email to generate a due date within the case automatically. We can also set up an automatic reply so that customers receive an email back saying that we’ve received their request. There’s a whole lot other more options here for us. We’re not going to go through all of those today either.

The most important thing I wanted to point out that we are covering today is sort messages here. Right now we’re going to select FogBugz autosort and the project is inbox. This project is where FogBugz will automatically sort those emails into different areas. This can be pretty handy when you’re using one email address for different purposes. Like I mentioned earlier at FogCreek we use it for help and sales and we use one email address to do that. We can do that by taking advantage of autosort.

The other thing I mentioned earlier was that customer is going to get an automatic reply. This is configurable. You can turn that off as well. We’re going to customize this default auto reply, just a little bit. We’re going to remove the full name place holder and replace it with The Whysk Team. The list of place holders for the mailbox is available here as well as their descriptions. You can take time to read that later if you’re looking for something specific.

The next thing I want to focus on is the due date. Right now you can see that we have the automatic tab selected. What this is going to do is automatically put a due date for any incoming email for us. I’ve already set one hour here because the request that we’re getting in for Whysk help is from customers who maybe might be stranded, they’re trying to get a car to go somewhere, or they’ve already have a car and they can’t get somewhere.

We want to make sure that we respond quickly. Your actual due date may vary – one day, two days, four hours, so really set this up to reflect the needs of your business. For example at FogCreek we reply to customers in one business day so that would be seven or eight hours on this here for us. Just click okay, save those changes for us.

The next thing I want to do is look at setting up snippets. Since Julie and myself are going to be working on the same team here at Whysk we want to share some common messaging we’re using with our customers to save ourselves some time. We’re going to use FogBugz snippets to help us with that. Go to the avatar and go to snippets. What I’m going to do is I’m going to edit the permissions here and allow Julie to manage the snippets as well so that she doesn’t have to ask me to do it every time she wants to add or edit something. So that’s taken care of there and then we can click cases to return to our list of cases.

Now that we’ve got Julie set up lets log in as her. I’ve just switched windows here to log on prompt. Again this is Julie’s first time logging in, so she’s going to get the list of cases and it’s going to match the default search which is here the first 50 open cases. Let’s start looking at some of these customer inquiries. What we’re going to do here with these inquiries is we’re going to modify this filter a little bit at the top here. Then we’re going to sort the cases so that FogBugz learns how to sort them. Then we’re going to respond to the cases.

The first thing I’m going to do is make sure I’m in the inbox project because remember that’s where our Whysk help mailbox is putting cases or turning those emails into cases. That inbox filter here is a default filter provided by FogBugz. This is where all those cases are getting put for us. You can obviously set up your own project, as many projects and mailboxes as you need. Since we’re using due dates of that one hour we want to make sure we’re looking at the right thing here. We’re going to do that by modifying this filter, so we’re going to click refine it further. We’re going to expand due and then we’re going to choose today.

That’ll automatically adjust our filter to have any cases that are due today. Then we want to make sure we see the due date in our list here. We’re going to click due and then just drag this out to expand it. We can see that we have a due date of not too far in the future. We modified this filter. If you think you want to return to this filter as it is at some point later or even share this filter with your team you can definitely do that. You’d use the save button here to save your filter.

Let’s get going with autosort here to train autosort. The first thing we’re going to do is we noticed that in our filter we have stuff sorted by area and that we have cases in the default area called undecided. The undecided area is a special area in FogBugz. This is used when FogBugz doesn’t know what to do with the case yet, what area it belongs to. If we look at this case here we can see that we got an incoming email today. FogBugz then tried to sort it but it says training is in progress and then it assigns it to somebody.

We’re just going to click edit on this case here and tell FogBugz that we want these cases in the not spam area. Then we click this little arrow here on the top just to go to the next case in the list without having to return the list. We can see the same thing. We got an email in, training is in progress, and it’s assigned to admin user. We’re going to click edit and change this to not spam and then click our case’s button to return back to our previously used search. This has the due today filter that we used. We move things. Now you can see that the area is different here, cases in not spam.

Next thing we need to do is as Julie, Julie is going to decide that right now everything is assigned to admin but admin is not going to do any work so we need to make sure that someone does the work here. We’re just going to bulk edit these and click assign and Julie’s just going to assign those to herself. Now Julie has cases assigned to her. We’ve sorted those cases.

Let’s go to Julie’s My Cases and take a closer look here. Let’s pick this one here. Earlier we mentioned the due date. You can see that here on the left of the case. This is again set automatically by the mailbox setting we made earlier. You can also see that Julie made some changes to it here in the history of the case.

Let’s reply to our customer Jane here who is being a bit vague about what’s not working. Since I’m Julie right now I don’t quite understand the problem that Jane’s reporting. Pretty straightforward. What we’re going to do here is just paste in a response here I’ve already complied for us. I just pasted that in there and normally I would type it but we don’t want to sit around and watch me type all day. We’re just going to say, “Hey Jane, thanks for writing us. I’m not sure I follow the issue. Can you elaborate?” Then we’re going to click send and close. What this does is it’s going to send the email out and then mark the case as closed.

Let’s go back to that case one more time. Let’s look at that email I just sent out. Notice the email subject here. Now has case 14 in it. That’s really important because as long as Jane replies to an email with case 14 in the subject to Whysk help here it’s going to automatically get appended to this case. That makes things really easy to follow all in one place.

Now let’s check out our other case here. This case is from Bob. He’s just saying that he’s having trouble adding a new car to be able to be reserved. Let’s reply back to him here. Fortunately I’ve done some homework for us already and that’s definitely a bug, so I’m just going to paste in a response I’ve precompiled for us just to save us some time. You can see here that instead of me typing all of these words I just pasted it for now. But he’s found a bug and we filed the case. We’re going to get it fixed. Thanks for letting us know. I’m going to click send and close.

I want to go back to that case again, scroll down. You can see my email I sent out. What I sent out there looks pretty reusable, doesn’t it? It’s probably something that when we have a new product, we’re probably going to have bugs. It’s probably something that we want to easily do without any typos, that we can just fire off. This is a great candidate for a snippet.

What we’re going to do here is just go as Julie, we’re going to go to avatar, click snippets, and under snippets for everybody, this is really important because you can also have personal snippets, right now we want this snippet available for everyone and we’re going to create a snippet called bug and we’re going to put in, I’m going paste in some precompiled text here for us. You’ll notice that the text is mostly the same that I sent to Bob except for the first name and my first name in curly brackets. This are special place holders that FogBugz considers and FogBugz is going to swap out information with those place holders from what it can obtain from the case that you’re working with.

You can find out more about the snippet place holders by going to the snippet page and clicking on snippet place holders. There’s quite a few of them there for you. Click okay. Click cases to go back to our cases. We don’t have anything new there except this intro case. We can ignore that. But if we go back to the inbox we can see that there’s another new case in the not spam area. Let’s take a look at it.

This is the case from Jane. Let’s scroll down. There’s my email to her about asking for more information. Here’s her email back to us. She’s added a new car. It does not show up available for the reservation and what gives. This sounds pretty close to Bob’s issue. What I can do is I can assign this to Julie who I currently am right now like this. However, if you click reply it will automatically assign it to you. So it saves you some steps.

What we’re going to do here is assign this here so that if anyone else is looking in the inbox this case is going to disappear from them so they won’t work on it. We’re going to click reply on her latest email from Jane. Then this is a great opportunity for us to use that bug snippet we used earlier. I’m going to type the word bug and then I’m going to hit the back tick character which is usually to the left of your number one on your keyboard, and this is going to automatically fill everything out for us. I don’t have to type anything except for the word bug and that one character, just like that. Notice it put Jane and Julie in there instead of those curly brackets, first name and my first name. Then we can click send and close, so that email is gone. We check the inbox. No more cases left.

Let’s go back to that case with Jane one more time. I mentioned the due date on the left before but there’s also the correspondent. The correspondent is really useful as well because it hyperlinks parts of the email address. You can click the first part and see all the emails from Jane. It automatically does this filter for you with the correspondent, so you can see Jane sent in quite a few of emails that seemed to be titled the same. Now if we click the second part of the email for example we can see all the emails from anybody with, so we can see here that Bob and Jane have been emailing. is obviously a very generic address, but if you have a company domain there you’d be able to quickly see how many emails are coming from a certain company.

The other thing that you can do here is you’ll notice it’s also a filter. You can search within these cases for something. The same options that we covered before, maybe the due date, there’s several other options.

That’s about it for our very basic help desk in FogBugz. We’re working with inbox filter. We added a new user. We configured our mail box. We also started to train FogBugz autosort to put stuff into the not spam area. We also added a new snippet called bug.