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.
December 06, 2012 · 3 min read

Using Planio Help Desk (Part 4)

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

In our final installment of the Using the Help Desk series, we'll talk about how to use your own custom e-mail address in the Help Desk and also look at how to turn your Help Desk templates into FAQ Q&A entries!

As you recall from Part 3, the power of the Help Desk was finally revealed in terms of its ability to fully automate the customer interaction experience. Default headers, footers, and selectable templates — coupled with the built-in E-mail Drop Box capability — combine to make Planio a powerful helpdesk solution.


The Custom E-mail Address

You may have noticed that the default e-mail address assigned to your projects, robust though it is, may be a bit aesthetically-challenged... yes, even we have to admit that dropbox+greyhawk+da0f+documentation-project@plan.io isn't exactly the most appealing of addresses.

Thankfully, our developers were well-aware of this potential obstacle and have implemented a custom e-mail handling feature that enables you to integrate your own e-mail address with your Planio project.

Here's a walkthrough of how to do it:

  1. Take note of your project's e-mail drop box address (it is provided on the Issues List interface).
  2. Configure your e-mail account (e.g., support@yourcompany.com) so that it automatically redirects all incoming e-mail to your project's drop box address.
  3. In Planio, navigate to your project, click Settings, and then Help Desk.
  4. In the From email address field within the Sending emails section, enter your custom e-mail address.
  5. In the From name field, enter the name from whom all e-mails will be sent.
  6. Note: This field can also make use of Planio's built-in variables, such as {{current_user.name}}, {{current_user.firstname}} and {{current_user.lastname}}.
  7. In the Tracker for emails|tasks|notes fields, select a tracker to automatically assign to e-mails, tasks, and notes. This is entirely optional — you can also proceed with default selections.
  8. Click Save.

What happens now? If you configured and used "support@yourcompany.com", for example, then every e-mail sent to that address will automatically become a new project issue. In addition, all replies sent via the issue detail interface will also be sent from the support@yourcompany.com address.

In short, the bulky default project e-mail address will never be seen by your customers — they will only interact with your custom e-mail. The process will be seamless and work behind-the-scenes. You can now use your project to manage all of your custom support e-mails... or any other type of e-mail you wish (e.g., feedback@yourcompany.com, projectname@yourcompany.com, and so on)!


Serving Double Duty: The Help Desk Template

In addition to their role as selectable body text when creating a reply, Help Desk templates can also serve a double duty as Q&A entries on your project's FAQ page.

Here's a walkthrough:

  1. Create a selectable template (see Part 3 for full instructions).
  2. In the FAQ Question field, enter a frequently asked question — the template body will serve as the answer.
  3. In the For all projects field, select the check box to indicate that the FAQ question should be placed on the FAQ page for all projects — leave unselected if the question applies only to the project.
  4. Click Save.

Assuming that your FAQ will not be an internal resource, our next step is to make sure that your FAQ is publicly-accessible and easy to find:

  1. If this is the first FAQ you've created, a new FAQ tab will appear for your project.
  2. First, we will make your project public: Navigate to your project and click Settings. Under the Information tab, in the Public field, select the check box to make your project accessible to Planio users who are not members in this project.
  3. Click Save.
  1. Next, we need to ensure that "Non members" (i.e., users in your Planio who have an account but are not members of the project in question) and — optionally — "Anonymous" users (i.e., users who have no user account in your Planio) have permission access to the "View FAQ" setting: Navigate to Administration and click Roles and Permissions. Click Non member and, in the Help Desk section, select the View FAQ check box.
  2. Click Save and repeat the process for the Anonymous role.
  1. Lastly, if you would like anonymous users (who have no user account in your Planio) to be able to see the FAQ, we need to modify an authentication setting: Navigate to Administration, click Settings, and then click the Authentication tab. In the Authentication required field, de-select the check box to turn off the authentication requirement. This ensures that your customers can navigate directly to the FAQ page and not a log on screen.
  2. Attention: Please make sure that the other settings in your Anonymous role are configured properly. Allowing access without authentication means that anyone on the Internet can access the public projects in your Planio.
  3. Click Save.

Your FAQ section is now accessible to the public.


Facilitating FAQ Accessibility

In order to make your FAQ more accessible to your users, you may wish to include links to the FAQ page within your Help Desk templates (e.g., Default Auto-reply). Planio supports this through the use of variables; some useful ones include:


For those of you who missed the first few posts, you can view parts 1-3 via the following URLs:


Was this series helpful? What other Planio functionality would you like to see discussed? Tell us about it via a comment below. Feel free to share a Like and Tweet as well!

Brian survived a typhoon, an ingrown toenail, and an odd yearning for dark chocolate... and that was just this week! Join us next time for the further adventures of our Blogger-in-Chief.