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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.
October 31, 2012 · 3 min read

Using Planio Helpdesk (Part 1)

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

Last week we talked about some fairly awe-inspiring Planio functionality with the E-Mail Drop Box. Creating an issue by e-mailing with your smartphone? Yeah, cool stuff.

This week we're going to up the stakes. We're pushing the chips forward and going all-in. For today, my friends, we'll talk about... <dramatic drum-roll>... the Help Desk.

Imagine taking the E-Mail Drop Box and injecting it with superhero DNA. This is Dr. Banner turning into The Incredible Hulk -- a transformation on a significant scale. You get the idea.

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The Help Desk

The Planio Help Desk feature turns Planio into a highly-efficient customer communications solution that operates within a project management framework. It enables your customers to directly interface with your team within Planio's issue-based infrastructure. Planio's core strengths are not compromised, as the integration between the Help Desk and Project Management is as configurable, flexible, and seamless as Planio's other features.

As this is a fairly detailed subject, we'll break down the content into 3 or 4 parts. Today we'll start with a discussion of how the Help Desk feature handles incoming customer e-mails.

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Customers and Planio: The External E-Mail

Remember last week we mentioned that each project is assigned its own unique e-mail address? Well, in addition to empowering your team members to manage issues using e-mail, we can also enable your customers (i.e., people who do not have a Planio account) to create issues via e-mail. "How does that work?" I hear you ask... check it out:

When a customer sends a message to your project's unique e-mail address, several things happen:

  1. The customer receives an automatically-generated reply: The content of this reply is 100% configurable -- it can say whatever you want it to say. If you plan on creating a project that is dedicated to handling Customer Support issues, for example, then maybe your auto-reply will read, "Dear <name>, thank you for contacting us. A member of our team will be in-touch within 24 hours..."
  2. A new project issue is created: This is the E-Mail Drop Box technology at work. The new issue is created in the same way as an internal email-generated issue (i.e., e-mail subject = issue subject, e-mail description = issue description, etc.).
  3. Planio analyzes the e-mail address and, if needed, creates new records: Is the e-mail from a known sender? If not, then Planio creates new contact and company name records based on the e-mail's syntax. If it is known, then Planio automatically associates the issue with the correct record.
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Help Desk Preparation

Before we look more closely at the last point (Planio's e-mail address analysis capability), we need to make sure that (a) the Help Desk is turned on and that (b) the Help Desk features are enabled for the role we'll be working with (this is done by an Administrator).

First, to turn the Help Desk on, do the following:

  1. Browse to a project.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Planio Apps.
  4. In the Help Desk field, select the check box to turn the feature on.
  5. Click Save.
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Next, if you are an Administrator, be sure to specify Help Desk permissions for the role(s) you're implementing in Planio. Here's a walk-through showing how to turn on Help Desk features for a role:

  1. Click Administration.
  2. Click Roles & Permissions.
  3. Click a role -- in this example, we'll select "Manager."
  4. In the Help Desk section, select all appropriate permissions.
  5. Click Save.
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Intuitive E-Mail Handling

Here's a graphical view of how Planio automatically creates a new contact and company record for the first-time receipt of an external e-mail:

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Here's a closer look:

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By the way, don't worry if you receive e-mails that don't quite fit the mold (e.g., XYZgary279xx2@gmail.com). Planio uses sensible defaults and fallbacks are in-place -- it's also easy to change the record at any time.

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A Sneak Peek

As mentioned, the Help Desk is a fairly comprehensive feature within Planio. So much so that its functionality cannot be contained within one mere blog post!

Here's a sneak peek at Part 2 onwards...

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Imagine handling all of your help desk requirements from a web-based interface... your organization can, feasibly, be anywhere in the world. How do you feel about a portable corporate entity? Or distributed international teams? Share your thoughts and insights in a comment below. Also, feel free to send a Like and/or Tweet if you enjoyed today's blog post!

When not playing with his daughter's new remote-controlled toy truck, Brian enjoys eating Italian food and learning how to use his Mac... <Coming full-circle: my first computer, circa 1985, was an Apple /// ... then I became a Windows user for 27+ years... and here I am using an Apple again. Talk about being a prodigal son!>.

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