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WebAsyst Help Desk Manual

WebAsyst Help Desk Manual

Table of Contents

WebAsyst Help Desk at a glance

How to begin

First of all you have to "tell" the WebAsyst Help Desk application how to receive customer requests. There are two basic methods of receiving requests.

Method 1: via email. Your customers simply send their inquiries to a certain email address (or several addresses), and their requests will automatically appear in WebAsyst Help Desk. The operating principle of this method is similar to that of a regular email client; e.g., Outlook or Thunderbird. Messages are transferred from the mail server using the POP3 protocol and appear in the WebAsyst Help Desk request list.

Method 2: via a web form. Your website visitors complete a simple form specifying their name, their email address to receive your response, request subject, and the text of the inquiry, then click the "Send" button. The message will be added to the WebAsyst Help Desk request list.

Setting up email addresses

WebAsyst Help Desk allows you to create an unlimited number of email addresses for customer requests. To add a new address open section "Settings -> Email boxes" and click the appropriate link on the right.

You can use two types of email addresses with WebAsyst Help Desk:

Type 1: internal email address based on a domain name of @youraccount.webasyst.net, e.g., support@youraccount.webasyst.net or help@youraccount.webasyst.net. Such an internal email address can be created only by users of the WebAsyst Help Desk online services.

Type 2: external email address located on any other mail server; e.g., @yahoo.com or @gmail.com.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to use only one Help Desk application or one email client (Thunderbird, Outlook, WebAsyst Mail) per mail box! Before setting up a mail box in WebAsyst Help Desk, ensure that no other mailing software is connected to it. Failure to follow this advice may result in the inability of WebAsyst Help Desk as well as other email clients to correctly fetch new mail.

Complete the following fields on the email address settings page.

"Name & Email" tab

Name will be used as the sender's name in your replies to customers' requests.

Email: the email address you are setting up.

Language: this language will be assigned as the default language to all new customers who send their first request to this email address. If you provide support to a multi-lingual audience, this setting will allow you to attach different email addresses to different languages; e.g., support@yourcompany.com can be attached to the English language and support@yourcompany.de — to German. The former of these addresses can be published on the English version of your company's website and the latter one on the German version. Customers who send requests to support@yourcompany.com would be considered English speakers and their "Language" setting would be automatically assigned the "English" value. This will make their personal online accounts appear in the same language.

Incoming mail server. This settings group is available only for external email addresses (see type 2 above). Here you must specify the following connection parameters of the mail server.

My mail server: POP3 or IMAP (the IMAP option is temporarily disabled in the current version).

Server and Port: These values are usually provided by the administrator of the mail server where your email address is hosted. The port number is most often 110 for regular connections and 143 for secure SSL connections.

Username: is almost always the same as the email address; the password is that which you use to connect to the mail box.

"Signature" tab

The signature is added at the end of each message which you send in response to customer requests from this address. As a rule, it contains the name and postal address of your organization, the telephone number of the support service, etc.

You may also add special template variables to the signature which will be automatically replaced with their actual values; e.g., the MY_NAME variable will be replaced with the name of the WebAsyst Help Desk user (support operator) who is sending a reply to the customer and the REQUEST_LIST_URL will become a link to the customer's personal online account.

Tip: Add links to your knowledge base and help section to the signature section so that customers can find useful information and answers to some questions. This will allow you to significantly reduce the number of queries sent to you by your customers.

"Receipt" tab

The receipt is an auto-response which is sent to the customer after he/she has sent a new request to this email address.

After a new request is received, it is immediately assigned a unique number, and a notification is sent back to the customer. Such a notification (receipt) is not a required option, but it is advisable to utilize this option if your response time ranges from several hours to several days. Otherwise a customer may think that his/her request has been lost and will probably re-send it.

You may specify the estimated time of response and add useful links to the text of the receipt.

It is also recommended to specify a separate email address in the "From" field (e.g., noreply@your_company.com which you do not use for incoming mail) so that a reply of the customer to the receipt does not generate new requests in the queue.

Note: Please keep in mind that the address which you decide to specify in the "From" field must exist on your mail server. If it does not, automatic receipts will be rejected as SPAM and will not be delivered to customers.

"Anti-spam" tab

To protect yourself from SPAM, enable option "Send automatic confirmation request on messages received from unknown addresses".

Any message from an unknown address will be treated as suspicious and an automatic confirmation request will be sent back to the sender. Such a request may contain a special link which must be clicked to confirm the sending of the request. To add such a link, ensure that the confirmation request contains the REQUEST_CONFIRM_URL variable. Add instructions for your customers, if necessary.

Enabling the anti-SPAM protection is not necessary if you employ other efficient means of protection or if you have published your email address on a website with limited access which is only visited by registered users.

Similar to receipts, it is advisable to send confirmation requests from a special email address like noreply@your_company.com.

Setting up web forms

Apart from email addresses, you can also receive customer requests from a request-sending form on your website. The form contains four fields: "Your name", "Email address", "Request summary", and "Request text". A request sent using such a web form will appear in the common request list of the WebAsyst Help Desk application — together with the requests sent by email.

To create a web form, open section "Settings -> Forms" and click "Create a new request form". A default web form will be immediately created and can be published on your website by one of the following methods (presented to the right of the form preview area).

Simple link to the form. It is the easiest way to publish the form. A click on this link will open a new browser tab with the form.

HTML to embed in website or blog (method 1: iframe). A single line of code will allow you to embed the web form in any page of your website or blog. The drawback of this method is that you cannot fully control the appearance of the form, because only a limited set of design customization parameters is accessible on the web form settings page.

HTML to embed in website or blog (method 2: javascript & form). The option for web developers; it allows you to apply any changes to the web form design and implement custom data pre-processing.

Customizing web form

Click the "Customize" link above the form preview area. The following adjustable properties are available to you:

Form name at the top is displayed only to you and is not visible to website visitors.

"Fields" tab

All four fields are required; their names are editable.

Enable the CAPTCHA option to protect yourself from SPAM. This will add an image with several digits to the bottom of the form; website visitors will have to type those digits into a special text field to successfully send their request.

"Appearance" tab

Caption is displayed at the top of the form. Change other design options if necessary: caption text and background color, sizes, caption of the sending button. These changes will only affect the appearance of the form if you decide to publish it as a link or as iframe (see description above) and are not applicable for the javascript & form publication method because all styles and sizes are already available to you in the code.

Select the language in which diagnostic and/or error messages and field captions will be displayed to users.

"After submit" tab

Choose the behavior of the web form after a visitor sends a request to you:

Stay on the form page and display this message. The message specified in the text area below will appear on the page after a request has been sent.

Redirect to another page. Enter the URL of the page to which a website visitor will be redirected after sending a request.

Email box from which return messages will be sent. Select one of the email addresses which you have set up in section "Settings -> Email boxes". Since the web form is not connected to any email address, this setting will allow you to specify the address from which replies will be sent to customer requests received from this form. The signature, the receipt, and the anti-SPAM protection feature which have been set up for the selected email address will be also applied to such requests.

Receiving and viewing requests

All messages received at the email addresses and submitted using web forms set up in the Settings section appear in a common request list. Each request is assigned a unique number.

The request list is automatically updated once a minute; therefore, you do not have to refresh the web page to view newly received requests. You may update it at any time by clicking the "Refresh" link above the request list. After doing so, all new messages will be retrieved and displayed in the request list.

In order to view the contents of a request, click its title in the request list. Depending on the way you prefer to work with customer requests, you may choose the most convenient view mode from those listed below.

  1. Request contents under the list. This is a default view mode. The list is always visible above the request contents at the page top.
  2. Request/list. In this mode you can see either the request list or the contents of the selected request at one time. In order to expand the request-viewing area and hide the list, click the "Expand" icon in its top-right corner. The "Expand" icon will be replaced with the "Minimize" icon. You can click to return to the previous (default) view mode. The "Close" (cross) icon in the top-right corner of the request-viewing area allows you to hide the request contents and display only the request list.
  3. Request in a separate tab. To view a request in a new browser tab, click the appropriate icon [картинка] in the right-most column of the request list or in the top-right corner of the request-viewing area.

Request and customer details

At the top of the request-viewing area the customer's name is displayed. Click it to display an extra area with more information about the customer such as email address or contact number. To edit those details or add new information about the customer, use WebAsyst Contacts.

Note: If WebAsyst Contacts is not installed in your account, you can install the software in the "Account" section (if you are using WebAsyst online services) or purchase WebAsyst Contacts as PHP scripts and install them on your server. See more details on our website at: http://www.webasyst.net/contacts/.

Under the customer's contact information, there is an area where you can add and view notes about the customer.

On the upper right of the request-viewing area, the number and the current status of the request are displayed. Click "show details" on the right to view additional information about the request: creation date, method of receiving (by email, from a web form, or from the customer's personal online account), and the name of the assigned user.

Request history

Apart from the text of the customer's request, the request-viewing area also contains the entire processing history of that request: comments, forwarding, previous replies to the customer, reopening of the request by the customer, etc.

By default the request processing history is displayed chronologically: latest actions are added at the page bottom. If you desire to change the order of the request history, choose the "newest entries first" option from the "Sort request history" drop-down list.

Customers' orders in your online store

If you are using WebAsyst Help Desk together with WebAsyst Shop-Script in your account, then you can view information about customers' orders in your online store in the right-hand pane of the request-viewing area. To view the list of his/her orders in Shop-Script, click the "Orders" link; to view full details of the current order, click its number.

Processing customer requests

The main purpose of request processing is to provide a reply which will be fully satisfactory to the customer.

If the request is simple and responding to it does not require additional consultations or referring to additional resources, simply click "Reply", enter the text of your reply and send it to the customer. The processing history of such a request is simple: after receiving, it was assigned "New" status and a single action "Reply" was taken, resulting in the change of its status to "Closed".

Very often the situation is more complex. The correct answer may not be obvious and may require consultations with specialists or a search of information in a help system or a knowledge base. During its "lifetime" a request may be forwarded several times for consultation with specialists (who can send back their replies by email or add them as comments), replied to by support operators, or reopened by operators or the customer, who can also supply additional information at any time.

To ensure correct handling of such complex requests, WebAsyst Help Desk assigns comprehensive statuses to all requests and offers various actions to users which can be performed in certain statuses.

Request statuses

Each request always has a specific status. The status of a request reflects its position in the processing procedure. The possible request statuses in WebAsyst Help Desk are listed below with a brief description.

New: all newly received requests are assigned this status.

Discussion: requests forwarded for consultation to other users.

Closed: a reply to this request has been sent to the customer or the request has been closed without a reply.

Reopened: this status is assigned to closed requests which have been opened again. A request can be reopened for the following reasons: the previous reply is not satisfactory to the customer; or a partial reply has been sent to the customer and the remaining request requires additional attention. A support operator (user of WebAsyst Help Desk) may also reopen a request if the previous reply was later found to be incomplete or inaccurate.

Canceled: the customer has revoked his/her request in the personal online account.

Deleted: requests deleted by a WebAsyst Help Desk user.

Waiting verification: requests from "unknown" email addresses which have not been verified by their senders (such verification is offered to customers as a special link with the enabled "Anti-spam" setting).

Request statuses are marked with different colors for their better visual differentiation.

Actions on requests

Changing a request status is not an independent operation. The status can only be changed after a certain action is performed on a request. In WebAsyst Help Desk, actions are permitted for requests in certain statuses as described below.

Reply: send a reply to the customer; applicable for open requests in statuses "new", "discussion", and "reopened".

Forward: forward a request to another user for consultation or discussion; applicable for open requests in statuses "New", "Discussion", and "Reopened".

Change assignment: specify the name of the user responsible for providing a response to this request; applicable for open requests in statuses "New", "Discussion", and "Reopened".

Add comment: add a text comment to the request processing history; applicable for open requests in statuses "New", "Discussion", and "Reopened".

Close without reply: change the request status to "Closed" without sending a reply to the customer; applicable for open requests in statuses "New", "Discussion", and "Reopened".

Reopen: open a previously canceled or closed request by assigning it the "Reopened" status; applicable for requests with the "Closed" status.

Delete: move a request to the "Trash" folder; applicable for requests in all statuses except for "Deleted".

Restore: restore the status which a request had before deletion; applicable for requests with the "Deleted" status.

Accept to process: assigns the "New" status to requests which have not been verified by their senders; applicable for requests in the "Waiting verification" status.

Remove forever: completely delete a request from the database; applicable for requests with the "Deleted" status.

To perform the required action on a request, click the appropriate button in the toolbar at the top of the request-viewing area. Basic actions are available as separate buttons. Other actions are hidden as a drop-down menu under the "more actions" button.

Read below to learn how to perform these actions in WebAsyst Help Desk.

Replying to the customer

Click "Reply" in the toolbar at the top of the request-viewing area. This will open a text area with the signature set up in "Settings -> Email boxes" for the email address to which the customer had sent his/her request. Your reply will be sent to the customer from the same address.

Note: If the request was received from a contact form on your website, your reply will contain the signature of the email address associated with that web form.

Click "Copy" if you need to send a copy of your reply to other recipients. Note that the main recipient (your customer) will see the addresses specified in this field. If you would like to avoid that, use the "BCC" link instead of "Copy".

The text editor offers various text formatting tools and buttons to insert links, images and to directly edit the HTML code of the message. The button at the bottom of the text editor allows you to attach a file to the message.

When the text is ready for sending, click "Send".

Forwarding requests to other users

If providing a response to a customer request requires the attention of several people, the request can be forwarded to other users. Click the "Forward" button to forward a request. In the request-forwarding form specify the email address of the recipient, enter your comments, and attach a file, if necessary.

Note: Messages forwarded to other users and the resulting replies or comments are added to the request processing history, but are only visible in the internal WebAsyst account. They are not sent or displayed to customers.

When you forward a request, its unique number is added to the subject of the email notification which is sent to the person the request is forwarded to, e.g., [ID:15677]. When replies to such emails are received, they are automatically added to the processing history of the same requests. The person to whom you have forwarded a request can simply click "Reply" in his/her email client and send a message to the support operator, and this reply will appear in the request-viewing area of WebAsyst Help Desk.

Changing assignment

Every time you reply to a customer request or forward a request for consultation you automatically become the assigned user of that request.

In addition to automatic assignment, WebAsyst Help Desk allows manual assignment for any open request. Changing assignment may be useful, for example, to the manager of the support service.

To change assignment for a request, click "more actions" and select the "Change assignment" item. Select the desired user name in the pop-up area, enter a comment and click "Assign".

Note: If it is necessary for the assigned user to receive email notifications of new assignments, enable the "Is notified on request assignment" option in his/her access rights for the WebAsyst Help Desk application.

Adding comments to requests

Adding a comment to a customer request is useful when a person who is not involved in the actual response needs to provide important details concerning the subject of the request.

In order to add a comment to a request, click the "more actions" button and select menu item "Add a comment". Enter your comment in the provided text area, attach a file if necessary, and click "Add".

Closing requests without a reply

Sometimes customer requests do not require a reply; e.g., some of your email addresses are set up to receive voicemail messages from your answering machine, or when a customer has replied "Thank you!" to your last response, and additional reply is necessary.

To close a request without a reply, click the "more actions" button and select menu item "Close without reply". The request will be automatically assigned the "Closed" status; no notification will be sent to the customer.

Deleting requests

To delete a request, click the "more actions" button and select menu item "Delete". Deleted requests are assigned the "Deleted" status and are moved to the "Trash" folder. Only two actions can be performed on such requests:

  1. Restore: the request is assigned the status which it had before deletion.
  2. Remove forever: the request is completely removed from the database.

To completely remove all requests from the "Trash" folder, use the "Empty trash" link on the right above the request list.

Request search

Quick search lets you find requests by customer name or by request number only. Simply enter or paste a name or a number in the text field at the page top and click "Search".

With the advanced search you can find requests by customer name and email address, and by the contents of replies and the accompanying messages forwarded to other users. You can also search requests by specifying the name of the user who replied to requests or performed other actions, such as forwarding or adding comments.

Customer's personal online account

Each client who has sent a request to WebAsyst Help Desk receives access to his/her personal online account. The account is automatically created when the first request is received from the customer. The URL of the online account of each customer always remains unchanged.

To communicate the URLs of the online accounts to your customers, add the REQUEST_LIST_URL variable to your signature in the email box settings (see the "Settings -> Email boxes -> Signature" section). In your replies to customers' requests the variable will be replaced with the URLs of the appropriate customers' online accounts.

Another way to inform your customers of the address of their accounts is to add the  REQUEST_LIST_URL variable to the receipt (auto-response) which is sent back to the customer when his/her request is received (see "Settings -> Email boxes -> Receipt").

If you have enabled the "Anti-spam" option, customers who have sent their first request will receive a confirmation with a special verification link. That link is created using the REQUEST_CONFIRM_URL variable which must be added to the text of the confirmation message (see "Settings -> Email boxes -> Anti-spam").

In the personal online account a customer can view the list of his/her requests, their numbers, contents, statuses and receipt date/time as well as editable contact information of the customer. Customers can use their online accounts to send new requests or reopen previously closed ones.