Setting up custom workflow in Helpdesk (tutorial)

A workflow is a combination of interconnected actions associated with a large common task of processing customer requests according to company's business process. Depending on how you have your business organized, you may need to set up one or more workflows as described below.

Adding new state

  1. In the left-hand sidebar, find section ADMIN → WORKFLOWS, and add a new workflow.
  2. To add a state, click on New state.
  3. Enter an arbitrary name; e.g., New. The state name should denote what is currently happening to a request and what can be done with it.
  4. Enter an ID for your state using letters and digits. Even though you will hardly ever use state IDs in your everyday work, we recommend that you use well readable IDs; e.g., new in this example.
  5. Pick a color to display requests in this state, which may be convenient when working with large request lists.
  6. Decide whether your clients should requests in this state in their Customer Portal and switch the corresponding option on or off.

Adding a source

Click on New source → Email (or Form) to add a news source. A source is the specific method of receiving support requests from your clients. You can connect multiple email sources (mailboxes) and web forms within one workflow. Each source can have different setup.

In each source's settings, whether Email or Form, you will find section "Forwarding request to workflow". Use it to select the initial state which must be assigned to newly received requests. In this example, select state New. Save your changes.

Now you should see something similar to this picture on your workflow setup screen:

This setup means that all requests received via the connected email address will be displayed in Helpdesk app marked as New.

Adding action "Comment"

Let us add a simple action "Comment", which will allow a user write text comments to a request in Helpdesk backend.

  1. Click on New state name to open its properties and click Add action in the popup dialog.
  2. Enter action name; e.g., Comment.
  3. An ID will be automatically generated based on the entered action name, which you can edit to your liking; e.g., add_comment. Note that you will not be able to change this ID afterwards.
  4. Enable fields which you want to have available when performing this action upon customer requests. In this example, it is enough to select the Text field.

  5. Click Save.

Look how the new action's name will appear on the workflow setup screen, in the New rectangle state area.

Adding action "Reply to customer"

Imagine that we want to write a response to customer's query and send our text as an email message. This should also be accompanied by changing the request state; e.g., to Processed, so that it is easier to distinguish it from other, new requests in a large list.

First of all, add another state called "Processed" similar to the "New" state we added before. Pick a different color for processed requests; e.g., grey.

Open New state dialog again and click on Add action, because we want action "Reply to customer" to be available for new requests. Do the following on the action-adding screen:

  1. Enter action name: Reply to customer.
  2. Enable fields Text and Attachment. This will allow you to enter a reply to a customer request and to attach one or more files to your message.
  3. In action setup section After this action is submitted, select option Forward request to state and select target state Processed. This will mean that a request will change its state from New to Processed when you execute action "Reply to customer".
  4. In section Customer, enable option Available for viewing only. This is the desired access level for this action in the Customer Portal, i.e. your clients will only be able to see their requests in this state and will not be able to reply to them.
  5. In section Messages, enable option Send an email message. This will open an additional settings area. In field To select Client.

    Other options in this area you may leave unchanged. They allow you to create good personalized email letters to clients which you can learn to modify later.

After adding request state "Processed" and action "Reply to customer", workflow setup screen will look as shown below:

Adding useful functionality for team work: discussions and user assignment

It is not always possible to provide a complete response to a client request. Complex issues may require attention of several specialists.

To add this functionality to your workflow, first add state Discussion. Pick blue color for it to easily see requests that are being discussed in the common request list.

Now add action "Discuss" to previously created state New. In the settings of the "Discuss" action, enable field Text for arbitrary comments, and field Assignment, which will allow you to select any user to be in charge for processing a request.

Specify below that execution of this action must transfer a request to state Discussion and choose the same (blue) color for the action button so that it matches that selected for the target state.

This kind of color coding of actions and states is quite convenient, because it makes request colors associated with certain actions and states, and thus reduces the number of mistakes.

In section Customer select option Not available. This way you hide all your internal discussions from clients in their Customer Portal.

In section Messages enable option Send an email message, in field To select Assigned user. Automatically sending an email message to an assigned user will help quickly inform him or her of the new assignment.

Upon adding of this new state and action, the workflow setup screen should look as shown below:

State Discussion looks like a deadlock in this workflow, because there is no action pointing from this state to anther one. What actions would you want to execute when a request is in the Discussion state? Why not choosing the same actions which you can execute when a request is New, i.e. "Comment" and "Reply to customer".

Since you already have these actions available in one of the states of your workflow, it is very easy to add them for other states; e.g., for Discussion. To do so, click Add action in the Discussion state rectangle. In the popup dialog, select both of these actions, and save your changes.

Selected actions' names will appear in the action list for Discussion state on the workflow setup screen.

Giving a customer the option to re-open a closed ticket

Now we have only one deadlock state: Processed. No actions can be executed when a request is in this state. Let us add here an action which will allow a client to send you an additional question if he is not satisfied with your last response.

  1. Click on Add action in Processed rectangle.
  2. In popup dialog Add action, select Create a new action.
  3. Enter the action name; e.g., Re-open.
  4. Enable field Text, which a client will use to type his comments or additional question.
  5. For option Forward request to state, select state Discussion.
  6. In section Customer, select Available for viewing and execution, because it is the customer whom you create this action for.
  7. At this state you may skip setting up email messages associated with this action. Save your changes.

Here is what the workflow setup screen should look like:

We do not have any more deadlock states, in every state there is at least one available action.

Changing the order of action buttons

The order of actions shown on the workflow setup screen defines the order in which actions' buttons are displayed on a request-viewing page. It may not be very important, but intuitively most of us would place most frequently used buttons closer to the left side.

For example, if action Discuss is the most used one in the New state, then you may want to move it to the top of the available action list. To do so, click on the gear icon in the state rectangle, and drag&drop action names to re-order them as desired.

Editing action settings

While using the system, you wil probably want to change something about the existing actions. To do that, simply click on their names in actions' rectangles on the workflow setup screen.

In our example, let us change the color for action "Reply to customer" to red, to make it more noticeable. Here is how the workflow setup screen is changed after this update:

Note that the color of action Reply to customer become red for both states it is available for, i.e. New and Discussion. It is actually one action, even though it is shown as available for several states, and its settings are accessible via any of those states.

However, the order of actions is different for those two states. We showed you above how you can change the order of actions within state New, and it is already updated on the last picture above. And it has remained unchanged for the Discussion state, where we made no changes.

Design of request-viewing page as defined by workflow setup

Let us see how a request sent by a client may appear in Helpdesk, if it is captured by the workflow we have just set up. To check that, we may send an email message to the address associated with an email source in our custom workflow. The received message is automatically converted into a request in the New state.

The request subject is displayed in the top left-hand corner of the request-viewing page. Action buttons are shown in the same sort order which we assigned to them in this state's settings dialog.


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