Brian Sheehan
As a Technical Writer and Blogger, Brian enjoys the challenge of bringing concepts to life via the written word. He is a big fan of project management, technology, and cheeseburgers.
November 15, 2012 · 4 min read

Using Planio Help Desk (Part 3)

Update: We’ve created a new video and text tutorial on the Help Desk app that you can see by clicking here.

Today we'll pick-up where we left off in Part 2 and discuss how to define some useful Help Desk settings. These steps will typically be done by your organization's Planio Administrator.

First, we need to navigate to the correct location within Planio:

  1. Navigate to a project.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Help Desk.

How to Create Header, Footer, and Auto-Reply Templates

All templates are simply blocks of text that can be accessed from within Planio's Help Desk functionality. Help Desk templates have several uses within Planio, including:

The first template we will make will be a default header, after which we'll proceed to a default footer and an auto-reply.

Creating a Default Header

  1. After navigating to the Help Desk interface, in the Help Desk Templates section, click New Help Desk template.
  2. The New Help Desk template screen appears.
  3. In the Title field, enter: Default Header
  4. In the Content field, enter the introductory text that will be used to preface your customer replies. Here's an example:

Dear {{contact.name}}:

Thank you for your e-mail.

  1. You'll notice that, below the Content field, there is a listing of all the variables available for use in your messages. By entering a variable (such as the {{contact.name}} mentioned above), you enable the Planio system to retrieve information based on a specific situation. In this case, we'll be displaying the full name (first & last) of the person who sent an e-mail to the project.
  2. In the FAQ Question field, leave it blank for now -- we will discuss the FAQ functionality in Part 4 of this series.
  3. In the For all projects field, select the check box to indicate that this template should be available for use in all projects. Leave unchecked to use this template in only this project.
  4. Click Save.
  5. The new template (Default Header) will be listed in the Help Desk Templates section.

Creating a Default Footer

Next, follow the above instructions to create a default footer -- simply title the template "Default Footer". Your text might look as follows:

Best regards,


This variable enters the name of the current Planio user. Remember to save the template when done.

Creating an Auto-Reply

The auto-reply does exactly as the name implies: when implemented, the text will comprise the body of an automatically-generated e-mail that is sent to anyone who sends a message to the project.

As above, follow the instructions to create an auto-reply with a meaningful title; "Default Auto-reply" works nicely. The text can be as simple or as complex as your needs require... here's an example of an auto-reply that makes creative use of variables:

Dear {{contact.name}}:

We hereby confirm that we have received your message. We will make every attempt to reply to your e-mail within 24 hours.

Subject of your request: {{issue.subject}}

Case ID: {{issue.identifier}}

You can access the current status of your request via this link: {{issue.tracking_uri}}

The variables listed above do the following:

There are lots of other fun things you can do with variables, such as including links to FAQs... but we'll save that particular subject for a future post! After saving these three templates, you'll see them listed in the Help Desk Templates section as follows:


Implementing the Header, Footer, and Auto-Reply Templates

  1. To "turn on" your new templates: In the Header field in the Special Help Desk templates section, select the name of your header template (in this example, we used Default Header).
  2. In the Footer field, select the name of your footer template (i.e., Default Footer).
  3. In the Auto-reply field, select the name of your auto-reply template (i.e., Default Auto-Reply).
  4. Click Save.

Usage of the Header & Footer

Like the auto-reply template, header & footer templates are automatically used by the Planio system after they are implemented (as above). You probably saw them in action back in Part 2 but, if not, here's a re-cap:

  1. Navigate to a project.
  2. Navigate to the externally-generated issue's detail screen (i.e., click on an issue's subject on the Issues screen).
  3. Click Update.
  4. Below the Notes section, select the Send this note via email check box.
  5. The header & footer will appear.

How to Create a Selectable Template

Next we will create a selectable template. These kind of templates can increase your productivity significantly, as they enable your teams to quickly respond to frequently asked customer questions without having to manually enter full replies (if needed, text can always be added or edited to a selected template for customization purposes).

  1. As with the default templates above, navigate to the Help Desk settings interface and click New Help Desk template.
  2. In the Title field, enter any title that is appropriate for the template you are creating. In this example, we'll create a "Forgot Password" selectable template.
  3. In the Content field, enter applicable text -- feel free to use the rich text editor and variables to take full advantage of Planio's messaging functionality. In the graphic below we entered some basic instructions as they relate to retrieving a lost password.
  4. Although we'll discuss the details of Help Desk's FAQ-creation capability in our next post, we'll include a sneak peek here. Notice in the graphic below that we entered the FAQ question, "I have forgotten my password. How do I retrieve a new one?". By entering content here, we are telling Planio to include this template in our customer-facing FAQ screen for support purposes.
  5. Click Save.
  6. The new template appears in the Help Desk Templates section.

Usage of a Selectable Template

  1. Navigate to a project.
  2. Navigate to the externally-generated issue's detail screen (i.e., click on an issue's subject on the Issues screen).
  3. Click Update.
  4. Below the Notes section, select the Send this note via email check box.
  5. In the note's drop down menu, select a template to include as the body of the message. Modify/customize the text, if necessary.
  6. Click Submit.
  7. The reply will be sent to the customer.

The finished product:


In our final Help Desk post we'll explore the usage of the FAQ functionality and also look at how to specify a custom e-mail for your Help Desk needs!

Do you use Planio's Help Desk functionality? If so, tell us about your experiences in a comment below. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share a Like and Tweet!

Brian enjoys fishing, biking with his daughter, and eating burritos. He also enjoys fishing with his daughter and eating burritos while biking. As you can see, it's a very complicated situation.