Help Desk is a SharePoint site template, implementing help desk and knowledge base functionality. The site template uses a combination of built-in SharePoint capabilities, extended through the use of a set of Infowise components.
The template allows you:
- Create service tickets by monitoring an incoming email account or manually.
- Assign multiple tasks to each ticket and track their progress.
- Resolve the issue and receive customer approval through email.
- Automatically create knowledge base (KB) articles from the resolution steps documented in tickets.
- Manage frequently asked questions.
- Monitor resolution time of tickets.
Using the Site
The site uses regular SharePoint lists to store and manage data. No external data storage or custom interface is implemented. This allows you to easily modify the way the site functions, using just your browser.
Setting up Email Import
The service ticket can be generated automatically and/or manually. To generate a ticket automatically, customers simply need to send an email to the help desk email account, a ticket will be automatically created from that email.
You would want to set up a dedicated mailbox to be used to receive support calls. It’s highly recommended to set up a domain user and mailbox to be used for both outgoing and incoming emails, this is required for the closure confirmation loop to function properly. This functionality allows you to automatically request approval from the customer to close the ticket. The customer can then reply to the request email with Yes/No answer, the ticket is then automatically closed or re-opened based on the response.
- Set up a user in your Active Directory (such as example\helpdesk)
- Set up a mailbox for the user (such as email@example.com)
- In Exchange, delegate the Send As permission on the help desk mailbox to the application pool account of the SharePoint’s web application running the solution. That will allow you to set up alerts to be coming from the help desk account.
Next, change the From account of the 3 alerts configured in the system to the help desk account.
- Go to the top-level site of the site collection
- Click on Infowise Smart Alert Pro Administration.
- Check “Allow manual entry of From address”
- Save the page
- On Site Action menu click on Infowise Smart Alert Pro
- For each of the three Service Request alerts under Existing Alerts (you might need to switch to the user under which you ran the solution installer):
- Click on Edit
- Expand Recipients section
- Replace the From account with the email address of the help desk
- Click on Update at the bottom of the page
The alerts will now appear to be coming from the help desk account and user replies will be automatically imported into the system.
Next you should set up the email import functionality.
You need to provide the name of the email server (Exchange or POP3), the username and the password. Enter the help desk user credentials you’ve just created. You can also optionally use SSL (secure socket layer) encryption and you might want to delete the email from the server once they are imported.
- Email protocol – choose POP3, Exchange 2003 and earlier (WebDAV) or Exchange 2007 and later (Web Services). Your email server must support the chosen protocol.
- Mail server – enter machine (e.g. mail) or fully-qualified domain name (e.g. mail.example.com) of the email server. Check with your domain administrator what format is more suitable for you.
- Port – unless your email server uses non-standard port, you do not need to change this setting.
- User name – depending on your server configuration, enter domain\username or email address of the recipient (the mailbox you are setting up to receive service requests).
- Password – enter the password of the mailbox user. Both user name and password are stored in an encrypted format.
- Use SSL – if your server requires that, choose to use web traffic encryption.
- Delete messages from server – optionally choose to delete messages once they are imported.
Once you’ve successfully configured email import, you should remove the web part from the page.
Managing Service Requests
Service Requests list contains your ticket data. It contains all the tickets, regardless of status: new, engaged, resolved and closed. The list contains the following columns:
- Customer – user reporting the issue. When generated from an email – sender of the email.
- Service Request – free text name of the ticket (up to 255 characters). When generated from an email – subject line of the email
- Request ID – auto-generated service request ID, you might want to modify the template used to generate the ID.
- Details – full details of the request. When generated from an email – body of the email.
- Priority – low, normal or high priority. This column can be used to your discretion and does not affect the automatic work process
- Status – the status field contains the following options
- Initiated – new ticket, not yet assigned to any of the service personnel
- Engaged – assigned and current in progress
- Resolved – marked as resolved, a notification is emailed to the customer and an approval is awaited
- Closed – ticket closed in accordance with customer’s approval
- Service Representative – user responsible for managing the ticket
- Assigned To – user responsible for handling the service issue itself (may or may not have access to the Help Desk system).
- Comments – resolution steps and comments. Each time the ticket is edited a new comment may be added and a history of previous comments is visible.
- Resolution Date – date when the issue is resolved
- Tasks – task associated with the ticket. You assign an unlimited number of tasks that need to be completed for the issue to be resolved. You will not be able to mark the ticket as Resolve while it still has open tasks.
- KB Article – indicates that the ticket served as a basis for a KB article. This column cannot be edited directly.
- Related Articles – choose other article related to the current one.
- Keywords – assign existing or create new keywords to help searching the system.
The Service Requests list forms use two distinct tabs, one for entering initial ticket data and one for documenting the resolution step. One the first tab is accessible when creating new tickets.
There are additional ribbon buttons (clickable columns in SharePoint 2007) to provide easy access to various lifecycle steps of the ticket.
- Engage – sets Assigned To to the current user and sets Status to Engaged
- Resolve – sets Status to Resolved and sends a confirmation request to the customer. You will not be able to press this button when the ticket is not in Engaged state or there are open tasks assigned to the ticket.
- Create KB Article – generates a new KB article using ticket’s title (Service Request field value) and the content of the Comments field. Then you will be able to edit the article as you see fit, without affecting the ticket itself.
Managing Ticket Tasks
Each ticket can have one or more tasks. You can assign tasks to different users and provide different title and due date to each task. Tasks are added from within the service request itself and are managed from within the requests.
The Request Tasks list contains the following columns:
- Title – name of the task (up to 255 characters)
- Priority – task priority: Low, Normal or High
- Task Status – color-coded status of the task
- Not Started
- In Progress
- Waiting on someone else
- % Completed
- Assigned To – person responsible for the task
- Description – free text description of the task
- Start Date – current or future start date of the task
- Due Date – estimated completion date
Only when all associated tasks are marked as Completed can you mark the ticket as Resolved.
Managing Knowledge Base
The knowledge base uses the SharePoint wiki library. Each article is a separate wiki page and can be generated either manually or from an existing ticket. KB articles can have keywords assigned to them, as well as the underlying Request ID.
Managing Support FAQ
The Support FAQ helps you manage a list of common questions and answers. Each question can have keywords assigned to it to help making information retrieval easier.
The Help Desk has 3 pre-configured position-specific homepages:
- Service Rep Home – lists tickets awaiting to be assigned, those owned to the current user and those assigned to the current user. It also lists the open tasks assigned to the current user.
- Knowledge Mgr Home – lists recently created and recently modified KB articles, tasks assigned to the current user and popular keywords
- Service Mgr Home – displays tickets by status, by customer and by resolution time, lists tasks assigned to the current user. Also displays a chart of number of tickets by resolution time.
- Ticket is generated manually or from an email
- Ticket is examined by a service rep and assigned to him/herself or some other support personnel member
- Resolution steps are documented in the comments
- Tasks are generated and assigned to different users. These users receive an email from the system.
- Once all tasks are completed and the resolution steps executed, the ticket is marked as Resolved. An email is sent automatically to the customer, requesting approval to close the ticket. The customer is instructed to reply with the word Yes or No.
- The customer’s reply is automatically imported into the system
- If Yes, ticket is closed
- If No, status is set to Engaged, Resolution Date is cleared and the ticket requires additional steps.
- At any point you can create a KB article from the ticket by clicking Create KB Article from the ribbon or the context menu. You will still need to clean up/edit the article afterwards.